Brazil is a country of contrasts, but its global influence should not be underestimated. First, Brazil is the economic engine of South America. To impact South America with the Gospel in the fullest sense, it makes sense to start with its largest country and most urbanized areas.
The two largest city centers in Brazil are Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Both are considered “global cities.”Sao Paulo is the second largest city in the Americas, larger than New York, Los Angeles, and Buenos Aires, and second only to Mexico City. Globally, Sao Paulo is the 4th largest city in the world (estimated 18 million). Sao Paulo’s GDP dwarfs the rest of the cities in South America. It is a business city, not unlike New York in many ways, except that it is in the developing world. It is the
city “that works.”
Rio de Janeiro is known for its famous beaches. It is considered the cultural capital of Brazil. In some ways, it is the city “that plays.” Rio ranks 20th in the world’s population, with about 11 million people. Rio is larger than London, Paris, and Hong Kong, and is the 4th largest city in the Americas. Brazil was selected to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the first to be held in South America.
Brazil is growing rapidly. As the only Western country in emerging markets (BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India, China) it has recently received much in terms of foreign investment and development. Brazil has an abundance of natural resources at its disposal, as well as energy independence. Brazil is poised to become a major global player as it moves from third-world to a developing nation to a first-world country.
One can see the contrast clearly among the people. Literacy rates are improving, and a burgeoning middle-class has arisen. This creates a new opportunity for urban gospel-centered churches. For Americans who have a heart for urban missions and global church planting, this may be a new paradigm, as Brazil is changing. For it reflects a deep contrast to the traditional mission to Brazil – going to the Amazon jungle.
Traditionally thought of as a reached country, Brazil has a unique mixture of reached and unreached areas. The reached areas tend to be in the south and more of the unreached in the North (Amazon) and the interior of the Northeast. There are still people groups in Brazil that have not heard the Gospel and have no Gospel witness or evangelical presence. Reaching the global cities with the Gospel is the most effective way to reach the smaller cities and rural areas, as Rio & Sao Paulo have the influence, power, and resources to impact the country significantly.
—from Restore Brazil