CHAPTER VIII. THE GOSPEL TRIUMPHANT.

It is often claimed that the progress of the gospel is slower and more difficult in Catholic countries than in outright heathen lands. Such statements can be answered only by an appeal to the facts in the case. What are the facts? The Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has been conducting operations in Brazil for about thirty years. It has been doing work in China for more than sixty years. During all the time since work - was opened in Brazil, the Board has had about three times as many missionaries in China as it had in Brazil, with the result that at the present time we have 9,939 members of our churches in Brazil, as against 9,990 members of our churches in China. We have worked less than half as long in Brazil and with one-third of the missionary force. Last year with a missionary force one-third as large in Brazil as it was in China, there were 635 more baptisms in Brazil than there were in China. There were 1,534 baptisms in China and 2,169 in Brazil. The same sort of comparison between our work in Italy and Japan would make the same showing. This is not to make a prejudicial statement concerning the work in any field. We make it simply to show that the gospel does succeed remarkably in the Catholic countries. The fact is, the rate of progress is far greater in the Catholic country than it is in the heathen land. The gospel does succeed in Catholic countries. What is said here of the work of this one Board can he laid just as truly of the others.

It was our privilege to witness some remarkable demonstrations of the power of the gospel while we were in Brazil. About 3:30 o'clock one afternoon we arrived in Genipapo in the interior of the State of Bahia, after having ridden since early morning upon the railroad train through a mountainous country which, with its tropical vegetation, held our keenest interest. We were met at the station by some members of our church, who escorted us to the home of Polycarpo Nogueira. Mrs Nogueira is a very devout Christian. Some years ago she learned that her mother had embraced Christianity. Mrs. Nogueira set out upon a journey of 130 miles on muleback to her mother's home for the purpose of taking out of her mother's heart her belief in the gospel. She succeeded in shaking her mother's faith and also the faith of her brother. She now determined to prepare herself to combat this Baptist teaching which was spreading over the country. She marked passages of Scripture which she proposed to use against the Baptists. But when she used them she grew ashamed because she became conscious of the fact that she had misapplied the Word which she then gave deeper study. The Word of God took hold of her own heart and she in turn was converted. Her first thought was concerning her mother and brother 130 miles away. Again she took the long journey on muleback in order to lead her loved ones to Christ. She was able to re-establish her mother's faith, but to this day her deep regret is that her brother does not believe.

We had a great service at the church that night. The crowd was so large that we held the services out in the open. Seven stood to confess their surrender to Christ. The good deacon of the church was so thoroughly in the spirit of the occasion and in such sympathy with me that he declared he could understand my English. He really seemed to catch it before the missionary could interpret it.

On the following day we reached St. Inez, the station at the end of the railway, and spent the night in a poor excuse of a lodging house called the Commercial Hotel.

At 7 o'clock on the following morning, which was Sunday, we started on horseback for Arroz Novo, an excellent country church fifteen miles away. A young brother named John Laringeiro (John Orangetree) had brought horses for us. Before his conversion he was an arch persecutor, and since he has become a Christian he has been called upon to suffer even more bitter persecution than he ever inflicted upon others. He is struggling to care for his mother, and as the pastor of the church at Rio Preto, he is a most acceptable gospel preacher.

It was a fine ride into the country, over hill and mountain and deeply-shaded valley. After we had ridden about half the length of our journey several brethren from Arroz Novo (New Rice) met us to escort us to the church. A mile or two further we were met by another company, who swelled the number of our dashing cavalcade to about twenty-five. It was dashing, too, for they were hard riders. It was a very joyous and cordial reception committee. Finally we rode into sight of the church, winch is located on a high hill commanding a grand panorama of the mountains. As we approached we saw two long lines of people standing facing each other in front of the church. The men were on one side and the women on the other - about 600 of them. As we rode up the congregation sang a hymn to give us welcome. We dismounted when we reached the end of the two lines and walked down between them to the church. Now it is the custom in Brazil upon festal occasions to strew the meeting place with oleander and cinnamon leaves and to throw rose petals and confetti upon those they wish to honor. These good people observed this custom generously that day. A wide space of the ground in front of the church was strewed with leaves, and they showered such quantities of rose petals and confetti upon us that we were beautiful sights by the time we reached the door.

We entered the very creditable church building into which the people now poured until every foot of space was occupied. There was hardly room left for me to make gestures as I spoke. It was ten o'clock. The people had been present since four engaged in a prayer meeting. We began the service immediately. The Spirit of the Lord was upon us to preach the gospel. Afterward we called for those who wished to make confession of their faith in Christ. We pushed back the people a little bit in the front and the space thus made vacant was immediately filled with those who wished to confess their Lord and Savior. We saw that others wanted to come, so we asked them to stand where they were. All through the audience they rose. Then began the examination of these candidates. Numerous questions were put to them by the missionary and the pastor of the church. Sometimes as many as twenty-five or even more questions would be asked an individual so great was the care exercised in examining those who wished to become members of the church, and what impressed me most was the fact that after every question they could think of had been asked, they would ask if anyone present could endorse him. Whereupon someone, if he could recommend the candidate would, after a brief speech of endorsement, make a motion to receive him.

Over to my right rose a young woman who was the most beautiful woman I saw in Brazil. Her name was Elvira Leal. She had been favorable to the gospel for some time and had suffered cruel persecution from her father. The tears streamed down her face as she spoke, saying, "You know my story and what I have been called upon to endure for the gospel's sake, but this morning I must confess the Lord. I cannot resist the Spirit longer." I learned that her father, in order to force her to give up her faith, had dragged her across the floor by her hair. He had brandished his dagger over her heart, threatening to take her life; he had forced her to break her engagement to be married to the young preacher, John Larinjeiro, who had brought the horses for us; he had declared he would kill both of them rather than to allow them to marry, and at the time we were there she was compelled to live in the home of a neighbor, so violent had become her father in his opposition to her adherence to the gospel. That morning, however, she said though she knew it involved suffering, she would follow her Savior at whatever cost.

By the time the missionary had finished examining this woman, a man had crowded near to the front and indicated that he wished to say something. It was John Larinjeiro's brother. He said that for two years he had been impressed with the gospel, but because of the persecution in his own home he had held back. When years ago his mother had been converted, he went to persuade her to give up her religion. Persuasion failing, he persecuted her severely. She finally told him that his efforts were of no avail because she could not give up her faith in Christ, yet if he would take the Bible and show her where she was wrong, she would give it up. He secured a gospel circulated by the priest and also "The Manual of Instructions for Holding Missions" and both of these confirmted his mother's faith, and he had no more to say. The Word impressed itself upon his heart and he became sympathetic to the gospel. Then trouble arose. His father-in-law, he said, had threatened to take his wife and children from him and to put him out of his own home. His wife had persecuted him and declared she would leave him if he made the confession he desired to make. He said that he did not know what to do, but had come forward to ask us to pray for him. Then the congregation fell upon its face, as far as such a thing was possible, and prayed. I could not understand all they said in the prayers because they were spoken in Portuguese, but so mighty was the presence of the Spirit and so irresistible was the appeal sent up to the throne of Grace that I knew before the prayers ended what the result would be. As soon as the prayers were concluded, the man stood up and said, "News travels quickly in this country. It may be that when I reach home I shall find my wife and children gone, but whatever may he the cost, I cannot resist the Spirit today. I must confess my Lord and ask for membership in the church." Of course, he was received. A letter received from the missionary some months later informed me that the father-in-law had carried out his threat and did take away the wife and children.

Numerous others stood to make confession, and the examination continued far past one o'clock, 'till twenty-one were received for baptism. This marvelous outpouring of the Spirit of Christ enabled us to see with our own eyes the power of the gospel demonstrated in the saving of souls in Brazil.

After the service we went to breakfast in a house near by. The crowd, according to custom, came into the dining room, as many of them as could, to hear the conversation while we sat about the table. The walls of the building were made of mud, the floor was the bare ground, in the corner of the room, surrounded by a mud puddle, stood a water jar, around which the chickens were picking. I kicked a pig out of my way, accidentally stepped on a dog, but nothing daunted, fell to with good will and ate, asking no questions.

After a few hours' ride, upon our return journey in the afternoon, we reached the town of Olhos d'Agua (Fountains of Water) through which we had passed upon our outward journey in the early morning. There is a very good church at this place which has suffered cruel persecution. Upon the doors of every Protestant house in the town have been painted black crosses. They were placed there at night by the Catholics to keep the Devil from coming out. The black cross of derision has become a mark of honor in that community. We were greeted by a splendid audience that night and the gospel again was honored. More than a dozen people accepted Christ and made confession of Him.

I was greatly interested in Brother Raymundo, who is the leading member of this church. Formerly he was a great persecutor. He was an enemy to Antonio Barros, who is now a leading member in the church at Arroz Novo. Barros was converted at Lage, and when he met Raymundo he greeted him, at which Raymundo was greatly surprised. Barros explained his action by saying that he had found Christ and wanted to live at peace with all men. The fact that his enemy should embrace him and beg his pardon greatly impressed Raymundo. Upon the invitation of Barros, Raymundo attended the meeting that night. He was touched by the gospel and was converted. He now had to experience the same persecution he had inflicted upon others. His enemies wrote to the merchants in Bahia and told them that he was out of his mind. So persistent was their persecution that he was compelled to give up his business. His credit was destroyed by these reports. He moved away from Olhos d'Agua, but when the native pastor left the place recently Raymundo returned in order to hold the work together. He now makes his meager living by trading, and through great sacrifice leads the congregation in a very acceptable service.

We returned to St. Ignez by ten o'clock that night, tired and happy over what our eyes had seen and our hearts had felt. It had been a day of triumph for the gospel.

On Monday we started on our journey for Santo Antonio. When we passed through Genipapo we found Brother Polycarpo Nogueira at the station. He had come to ask about a passage of Scripture I had pointed out to him on the night when we stayed in his home We had urged him to accept the gospel and he hesitated. I quoted to him, "Everyone, therefore, who shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him, will I deny before my Father who is in Heaven." Mat. 10:32, 33. He told us about a wonderful meeting held in the church on Sunday, in which one had been converted and many others were deeply interested. He himself was evidently moved upon by the Spirit. May the word we gave him lead him to Christ.

Some hours further on we passed through Vargem Grande, where we have another church. Several people boarded the train to accompany us to Santo Antonio. One of them was Fausto de Almeida. When the ex-priest, Ottoni, visited Vargem Guande some years ago to preach the gospel this man Almeida, with a great crowd of boys equipped with tin cans, met him at the station. This troupe escorted Ottoni to the church and stood outside making as much noise as possible. He offered the ex-priest a loaded cigar, which Ottoni declined with kindly thanks. The minister's conduct was so gentle and kind that Fausto, when he bethought himself, went home in a rage, became intoxicated, and in order to vent his wrath, went out into his back yard and fired his pistols. A little later one of his sisters was converted, and by her good testimony not long after that when she died, he was greatly impressed. Another sister was converted and gave him a Bible, which he read and in which he found the message of Christ. He obeyed his Lord, and in spite of violent opposition on the part of his wife, is today in a faithful and effective way, building up the church at Vargem, Grande.