By Carl Stagner
The Holy Spirit wasn’t waiting until Easter to do something big in Brazil. Over the weekend leading to Palm Sunday, a spiritual retreat took place at Maloquinha, the Church of God farm and retreat center in Itaituba. Initial reports indicate forty-eight people surrendered their lives to Christ by the conclusion of the experience at several churches across the Amazonia region of Brazil. The ongoing harvest of produce and poultry at Maloquinha is only matched by the latest harvest of souls. Far more than a church campground or conference center, this Church of God-owned property is giving life to Brazilians in a variety of unique ways.
Originally developed by the Catholic church, the Church of God acquired Maloquinha over forty years ago. Besides a farm—yes, a farm—the 1,100-acre property is home to a small hotel, cabins, restaurant, and a variety of recreational activities, including fishing and swimming. As a ministry, the property is open to the public and has become a well-known getaway for churches, families, newlyweds, and those celebrating birthdays. Cattle are raised there for both milk and meat, and a variety of milk-based products, such as cheese and butter are sold onsite. The staff of Maloquinha, primarily Church of God people, also raise fish in ponds on the property and collect eggs from roughly six hundred chickens. Not only do the regional Church of God congregations take advantage of the facility for retreats, but also funds generated by Maloquinha are returned to the community for such projects as the church-operated medical clinic and after-school care. Maloquinha certainly isn’t your typical Church of God campground!
Before they could find housing, Jonathan and Beth Todd, missionaries for Global Strategy to Brazil, enjoyed staying at Maloquinha. Their role in Brazil, focused on leadership development, is vital to the Church of God in the region. God has continued to add to his church as people continue to come to Christ, but the demand for theologically trained pastors has also increased. Between one and three congregations are being planted each year, so the Todds have come alongside the seminary to address the need for new leaders. The Palm Sunday closing service at Central Church of God was an opportunity for Jonathan and Beth to witness firsthand the growing need for leadership development. It’s a good problem to have!
“God is moving in Amazonia, and we are rejoicing with our brothers and sisters here!” Jonathan says. He also reports incredible attendance at the service, which is why it had to be held outside. Partly because Amazonia daytime conditions can be sweltering, worship services aren’t held on Sunday mornings, but instead in the evenings. The Central Church of God has a capacity of about three hundred, but extensive growth has led the congregation to construct a new facility, expected to open by the end of the year. In the meantime, the gathering took place in the church’s outdoor pavilion to accommodate the crowd of well over a thousand.
Through testimonies about what God had done through the retreat, and inspirational singing and preaching, Palm Sunday at Central Church of God was only one example of how the Church of God in Amazonia is in the midst of a plentiful spiritual harvest.
To learn more about the unique ministry of Maloquinha, read Jonathan’s blog post. To learn more about Jonathan and Beth Todd, and to discover ways to support their ministry, visit www.chogglobal.org/team/jetodd/ or call 800-848-2464.