Sergio Danon began pioneering our work in Rio de Janeiro last April, but we wanted to wait until we were officially registered to tell you about it. Praise God, Jews for Jesus is now officially in Brazil!
You may remember reading about Sergio and Alexia in our May 2001 newsletter. Sergio grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in Rio de Janeiro, but both his parents became believers when Sergio was 16 years old. Four years later Sergio also came to faith after a term in the Brazilian Army. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. Sergio is also a graduate of the Seminßrio Teol=gico Betel (Bethel Theological Seminary) where he studied theology and was ordained. He and his wife, Alexia, have two boys, Israel (7) and Gabriel (4). Their desire to reach the Jewish people of Rio with the gospel led them to explore Jews for Jesus. The Danons are currently our only missionary family in Latin America.
Among Rio’s 12 million people, about 50,000 are Jewish. It is truly an international city where you can meet people from every country and race. The people there (including the Jewish community) are more eclectic than in Spo Paulo, more open to challenges and new ideas.
Rio’s population is also increased by the many tourists who come to enjoy its natural beauty. The slogan of the city is Wonderful City” and as Sergio says, “I’ve never seen a more beautiful place anywhere in the world. We have beaches, forests and mountains all within a short distance. Can you imagine it?” Before you pack your bags to move there you should know that during the summer, the temperature rises to 110¦, even 115¦. But the average temperature is about 85-90¦. Just perfect! (At least for a Brazilian…)
The spiritual climate can also be difficult at times, as many people here practice a form of “magic” known as “santeria.” We know that such things are of the devil but many people here are tempted to know their future or control some aspect of their lives through this deceptive power. Please pray for the Danons as they encounter this kind of spiritual warfare.
There are many issues when pioneering a new missionary branch, but the most vital aspect of any Jews for Jesus branch is finding Jewish people who are spiritually seeking and open to personal visits for Bible study. Since the Danons came to us from Rio, Sergio had already been witnessing to some Jewish people there before he began his missionary training. Luiz G. was one such Jewish man who had visited Sergio’s church in Rio two months before the Danons moved to New York. Sergio witnessed to him a few times and kept track of him during training. He was sad when he heard Luiz had stopped going to the church, then rejoiced to hear that he returned and was baptized. When the Danons returned to Rio, Sergio began discipleship studies with Luiz. Luiz is growing in faith, has told his rabbi that he is now a believer in Jesus, and is already willing to use all his knowledge of the Jewish community in Rio to reach them for Christ. He’s planning to start doing street evangelism with us and has told Sergio about areas where he didn’t even know there were Jewish people! Please pray for Luiz’s continued growth and willingness to help us in Rio de Janeiro. Pray for the Danons’ morale, as it can be lonely being a one-missionary branch so far from the other missionary families.
Sergio’s father, Joseph, also discovered a very small synagogue where four of the members say they believe in Jesus, though they have not confessed Him openly. They seem happy that Jews for Jesus has begun a work in Rio, and are even willing to refer others to us who might be interested in Jesus. Please pray for their spiritual growth, and that God will give them the courage to follow Him openly. And please pray for Sergio to meet many more Jewish people who want to hear more about Jesus.
Last, but certainly not least, please pray for Sergio as he leads our Behold Your God Rio campaign during August and September 2003. If you are interested in helping, please let us know!