Project Sertao II
In 1998, in obedience to the words of Jesus, the office of the Secretary of Evangelism of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPIB) in partnership with The Outreach Foundation and the Synod and Presbytery of Northeast Brazil, initiated the Sertão Project. The objective was to reach the people of the Sertão region, the dry hinterlands of the Northeast, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to plant IPIB congregations.
The first phase of the project was completed in 2006 after five congregations were planted in the cities of Caicó and Cruzeta in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, São Mamede and Malta in Paraiba, as well as the organization of the “mother church” in the city of Patos, Paraiba. During these years (2000-2006) the Sertão Project staff’s goal was to preach and carry out in practical ways a holistic Gospel - the whole Gospel for the total person and for all people. Social projects were developed which addressed some of the needs of the local communities: cisterns were constructed; a preschool was established; and a water purification system was installed in the preschool for community use.
The second phase of the Sertão Project was initiated in January 2007 in the cities of Pombal, Sousa, and Cajazeiras in the northern part of the state of Paraiba. These cities are the hub of the region. Commerce is relatively strong, giving reasonable availability of doctors and medical clinics, private and public schools, and universities. The mission fields of these three locations have much to celebrate: numerical growth; spiritual growth within the church community; leadership training; knowledge of the denomination; discovery of larger areas of service; awareness of God’s mission.
The Sertão Project, because of the scarcity of rain, continues the work of cistern construction in rural areas. The cisterns have a capacity to supply water for a family of five for a period of eight months. The construction team consists of a trained bricklayer and the receiving family that must learn not only about the building of the cistern but how to maintain it and to treat the water.
Another vital project in the Sertão, the vacation mission project, is carried out during the school vacation season in January and February. For ten years this program has proven to be effective. The most recent was held in the cities of Pombal, Sousa, and Cajazeiras. Young people and adults from IPIB churches come from the states of São Paulo, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, and Pernambuco. This year the number of participants, 40 in all, exceeded expectations.
On the first day before beginning the work of evangelism, the group received orientation about the religious realities of the Northeast. They were also given the opportunity to become acquainted with one another. Undergirded with prayer, the participants spent ten days evangelizing through visits to homes with families who cordially opened their doors to them. Worship services were held in homes with music, choreography, drama, testimonies, and preaching the Good News. Special activities such as Bible school, hospital visits, and soccer tournaments were held.
At the close of this mission visit, a worship service of gratitude to God took place. The service included music unique to the Northeast led by a musical group from the city of Natal. Rev. Maxmilliano Alex Fonseca e Silva, coordinator of the Sertão Project, reflected on this service in these words, “We saw tears in the eyes of the participants who regretted seeing us come to the end of their visit, but there were also tears of joy and gratitude to God for this rich mission experience.”
Rev. Max, in a recent article of the monthly magazine of the IPIB (O ESTANDARTE) stated, “For the staff of missionaries who work in the Sertão, this tenth year of the vacation mission project was most encouraging. All the participants who came to be a blessing returned touched, transformed, and passionate about the Sertão. Let’s do it again in 2013!”