Monday, September 30, 2013

Missionary Work in Brazil and the NSA

Whether good, bad or indifferent, some policies of the United States government affect missionary work in foreign countries.  The NSA, a U.S. spy agency has been accused of spying on President Pena Nieto of Mexico and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil (“Report: NSA spied on Brazilian, Mexican presidents”) as well as Mexican and Brazilian companies.  Rousseff in particular has expressed anger over the program, cancelling an October state visit to the United States and accusing the United States of  violating human rights and breaking international law in her opening remarks at the United Nations (“At U.N., Brazil's Rousseff blasts U.S. spying as breach of law”).  The spy policy may harm missionaries directly and indirectly.

The Brazilian government could enact policies that make it more difficult for U.S. missionaries called to serve in Brazil more difficult to obtain.  Rousseff is a passionate politician who was imprisoned by the Brazilian military government for her participation in a Marxist group aiming to overthrow military rule.  Like Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, her mentor, the founder of the Workers’ Party to which she belongs, and the man she followed as president, her rhetoric is more leftist than her policies.  Hopefully her pragmatic approach to governance will outweigh indignation caused by the NSA.

The NSA spy program could make Brazilians more hostile to a church headquartered in the United States and its missionaries from the United States if Brazilians associate the Church with the NSA policies.  As a missionary in the Argentina Cordoba Mission (1976-78) I occasionally saw a “Yanqui go home” graffiti spray painted onto a wall and I was often asked about U.S. policy but few thought of missionaries as representatives of the government.  We were blessed.  I pray that Brazilians will conflate U.S. government policy with the gospel.   

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