Hello, my name is Joel Kearney, and I have been a missionary here in Brazil since January 2021. I am serving with a local ministry called "JOCUM Eugênio", a branch of Youth With A Mission.
The Brazil You Don't Hear About
When you think of Brazil, you might picture the beautiful Atlantic coastline or the extensive Amazon rainforest. But did you know there’s a large region of Brazil that is mostly arid, full of red dirt and even cactuses? I sure didn’t until God called me here!
The backlands of the Brazilian Northeast are full of diverse communities, including groups of indigenous peoples and ancestors of African slaves. Much of Brazil’s rich history and culture, especially here in the Northeast, is rooted in the sertão. Countless of these rural villages do not have missionaries, churches, or any ministry presence. Less than 1 of 100 people in the sertão have received the gospel message, making it the region with the most unreached people in all of Brazil. And many communities that have heard the name of Jesus have been shared a confused gospel message, mixed with false teachings, bribery, or a slew of other religious figures and practices. There is a great need for evangelism and discipleship in interior Brazil.
The call of the Christian in the Great Commission is not merely to profess the name of Jesus in a location and move right along; it’s to make disciples. Evangelism and discipleship are certainly quite a process, but a beautiful one! It requires sacrifice, investment, and humility. This world is full of relationships that need restoring, cycles that need breaking, and lives that need healing; what a privilege it is that God chooses to use us as part of that redemption process.
I daily see deep consequences of extreme poverty, trauma, poor education, malnutrition, false spiritual practices, alcoholism among other addictions, paternal abandonment, and countless other effects of living in a broken world. But the sertão is also full of the kindest people you’d ever meet, many of whom are deeply searching for truth and hope. There are many so tired of hearing lies, and it is wonderful to see them meet Jesus — the only real Way, Truth, and Life.
When I meet the people of the sertão, I feel a sense of love, compassion, and a longing to serve — a result of Christ’s love at work in us. My desire is that we continue to see change and healing through the hope of Christ in communities invested into by churches, missionaries, and ministries. And as disciples are made, that they be filled with love for their neighboring communities, to go forth and make more disciples. After all, we are blessed to then be a blessing, and no candle loses even a speck of its flame in lighting another. Who better to reach those in other interior Northeast Brazil communities than those who were personally shaped by it and, through discipleship and the work of the Holy Spirit, have experienced the life-changing, transformational power of the cross.
Please pray that God continues to use His children to share the hope of Christ with those in the backlands of Northeast Brazil and for Bible-preaching, well-sustained churches and ministries to be planted there.
As a ministry base, we weekly run four to five evening Bible studies, operate a soccer ministry called "Vida pelas Vidas", hold morning worship and prayer sessions, tutor the kiddos four times a week, lead Sunday evening worship services, and visit the families within our village and the surrounding villages. We run food drives, partner with dentists, eye doctors, etc to run health clinics, receive teams and assist them in putting together kid's camps and a number of other projects and activities. All that we do is to demonstrate the love of Christ, to create key discipleship opportunities, and to glorify God in all we say and do.
Thank you as always for your prayers, partnership, and encouragement! I and our ministry base could most certainly benefit from more ministry partners! May God bless you abundantly beyond what you could ask or imagine.
Please reach out to me with any thoughts, questions, or if you would simply like to connect!
(Facebook and Instagram: joelkearney. Feel free to ask for phone number as well!)