Tucked away on a quiet street in Campinas, Brazil, is a seemingly abandoned lot. But 11 years ago God gave a dream to several visionary leaders to build a state-of-the-art international ministry center on that hillside. Today, the dream is becoming reality.
In January, leaders from The Back to God Hour (BTGH) joined the Portuguese ministry team and key members of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil to break ground on that abandoned lot for a new international ministry center.
“God has blessed The Back to God Hour,” notes Director Bob Heerspink. “He has allowed us to do wonderful things in Christian media.
“One of the places we’ve seen great growth has been Latin America. Now God is opening the door to a new initiative that is going to impact not only Latin America but also our media witness in other parts of the world.”
In 1969, BTGH began Portuguese broadcasting with a single radio program from the island of Bonaire. A tiny seed was planted with that first program, recorded by Rev. Wilson Ferriera. But from that tiny seed came remarkable growth.
Rev. Celsino Gama, a student of Rev. Ferriera, became the BTGH’s director of Portuguese ministry in 1979. Production moved to a remodeled house in Campinas; from there the ministry blossomed into radio, television, print, telephone, and Internet outreach.
In 1999 The Back to God Hour began experimenting with production of Spanish television programming in Campinas. Soon the Brazil office was handling most of the Spanish production. It was more effective to do Spanish radio and print distribution as well as Internet and follow-up ministries from Brazil.
As these ministries expanded and response to the Portuguese and Spanish media outreach grew, the ministry outgrew its space. The new facility in Campinas will move BTGH into possible new cooperative partnerships with other ministries, says Rev. Gama.
MacKenzie University, a Presbyterian graduate and post-graduate school in Campinas, and the Presbyterian Church of Brazil have already committed to ministry and financial partnerships.
Donors in North America have given more than $900,000 in cash and pledges. The goal is to raise the remaining $200,000 by the end of May in order to complete the center by the fall of 2009.
“The vision for what we can do [from the new facility] continues to grow,” Heerspink adds.
“This is not just about a more spacious building,” he emphasizes. “What we do in ministry—every program we produce, every piece of equipment we buy, every facility we occupy—is meant to spread the gospel and disciple people for Christ.
“We are confident that these facilities will open doors to new programming, stronger partnerships, and greater impact of the gospel through media work.”