The neo-Pentecostal movement continues to gain influence in Brazil. In January the nephew of the founder of the Universal Church of the Reign of God was elected as mayor of Rio de Janeiro. The Universal Church, as it is commonly referred to, has a horrible reputation for corruption and money laundering. The founder became a billionaire as a result of the movement. In keeping with their neo-Pentecostal beliefs the church espouses the prosperity gospel.
We deal with the fallout from this movement on a constant basis. They prey upon the poor, peddling their false gospel. They commonly tell people that whatever they give the church, God will give back double. People who have next to nothing eagerly give all that they have hoping for a blessing. When the blessing does not materialize their lack of faith or obedience is blamed. When our church planters enter these communities, people are understandably skeptical and unwilling to hear anything from another “church”.
We have had church planters work in a community for a year before anyone would entertain the idea of coming to a worship service. The community simply did not trust that we were genuine. Once we build trust, however, our approach is in stark contrast to the prosperity swindlers. Our church plants give food and ask nothing in return. We visit homes and pray, asking nothing in return. We provide school supplies and medicine, and ask nothing in return. The Universal Church and others like them take all they can get and offer little more than bad theology and blame when the desperately sought blessings do not materialize.
This is not a problem unique to Brazil. The poor around the world are preyed upon by peddlers of the prosperity gospel. The only solution is doctrinally sound, Bible teaching churches serving in these communities. Yet, few western organizations focus on church planting among the desperately poor. To my knowledge, Living Bread is the only organization whose sole focus is comprehensive church planting in the poorest communities in the world.
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Patrick Hubbard has an extensive business and ministry background. He worked in the hospitality industry as a General Manager and as a Regional Manager. Along with his wife Bárbara, he is part owner of Freegrance Products LLC, a social enterprise seeking to empower women to escape poverty and avoid human trafficking. Patrick and Bárbara are also the founders of Living Bread Ministries where they have committed almost thirteen years to comprehensive ministry among the global poor. He has also served as a staff member of a local church. Patrick holds a BS in Religious Studies and a MA in Global Studies from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing a MBA from Old Dominion University.