A Race of a Different Kind – Brazil’s 6400 Meters

Sep 8, 2016

The world turned its eyes to Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games. Athletes from around the globe gathered to unleash amazing feats of human speed, strength, and stamina. Medals dangled from the necks of those who are able to cover 100, 800, 5,000 or 10,000 meters the fastest.

In Brazil’s capital city of Brasilia, another group of global participants have gathered to join a race of a different kind — this one oddly enough covering a distance of 6,400 meters. Here, Christians from around the world come to Bridges International Church, hoping to preserve its meeting place of the last 40 years, by purchasing an 80 x 80 square meter property. At a current cost of roughly $2.5 million and having only until the end of the year to raise the funds, this race will be a sprint to the finish.

The genesis for Bridges was birthed 40 years ago out of the vision of a few international Christians who saw a need for an English-speaking church in Brazil’s new capital.  Diplomats, company executives, international students, and their families began streaming into Brazil’s new capital from all over the world.  Foreign embassies and international schools were established throughout the city, and yet today, while Brasilia is home to more than 140 embassies and a large international community, Bridges remains the only dedicated English-speaking church in Brasilia.

Anyone who visits Bridges Church is quickly taken by the multi-cultural make-up of its worshipers. Comprised of many different cultures, colors, and countries, those attending Bridges today come from nearly 40 different nations. It is amazing to see how people are so vastly different and yet so completely one.  Pastor Dave Bollenbacher attributes this to the shared needs that all people have regardless of their background. “We are created to know God, and so we share a common desire to love God and love people. We are also created for community, and being in a different country, away from one’s family, language, and friends, Bridges provides a place where people can share life.”

One of the biggest challenges facing Bridges is the transitional nature of its members, as people rarely stay at the church more than two or three years before moving.  Yet this is also one of its greatest blessings. Bollenbacher, who himself has lived and served around the world for more than 20 years, loves that the church, aptly called Bridges, is becoming a center for sending “missionaries” to people and places around the world. “In the past I have been dedicated to going to the nations to share the good news of Jesus Christ. At Bridges the nations are coming to us. We invest in these people for the season that they are here, and when their countries, companies, or careers say ‘go’, we send them to the next stop in their journey, empowering them to live and love for Christ.”

Bridges has grown significantly in the last few years. Tents have been erected to accommodate people having to sit outside the simple brick building each Sunday, and an additional worship service has been added to accommodate the people. As the church body has grown, however, its church building has not. This is in part due to the church’s focus on investing in people not property and to build up the Body not buildings.  In April of this year, however, the church was notified by its longtime partner, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, that they would be selling the church property for $2.4 million.  If the church wanted to purchase it, they would need to do so by year’s end.  Though raising such a large sum in a short time might seem impossible, Bridges felt they needed to trust God and at least try to secure this place of worship for generations to come.

For a transitional church of just a few hundred, the challenge can seem daunting, but Bollenbacher likes to simplify the task: “The fact is we need to purchase 6,400 square meters of property at a cost of approximately $400 per square meter. The challenge that we are presenting to Bridges Church and friends of Bridges is: How many meters can you “buy” in order to invest in the people and praise of God?” Bridges is trusting, that through the generous gifts of those inside and outside the church, that there will continue to be a place in Brasilia to invite English-speaking worshipers of Jesus Christ from all around the world.

“We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1 GW) If you would like to partner with Bridges International Church in their “6,400 meter race”, tax-deductible gifts can be sent to International Baptist Church Mininstries (IBCM) (designate Bridges International Church).  Visit IBCMWorldcom for giving options.  Contributions can also be sent through the IBC Office.

If the current church site cannot be secured, all gifts will be used toward the establishment and expansion of a suitable church site in Brasilia.

Thank you in advance for the generosity of your prayers and gifts. Bridges Church is encouraged to be running this race with you!

Dave Bollenbacher

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