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Baptists record thousands of decisions in Rio outreach

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (BP)–As the full moon rose over the rim of Maracana Stadium, evangelist Sammy Tippit pleaded with the unsaved among the 50,000 people assembled to accept Christ.
When Tippit led those who wished to accept Christ in a prayer, the voices of those repeating the prayer swept the stadium, one of the largest in the world.
The meeting in Maracana culminated a week-long simultaneous revival effort in which 412 Baptist volunteers from the United States and 150 from other Latin American countries joined 76,000 Brazilian Baptists for a great harvest of souls.
About half the 50,000 people in the stadium stood to register a decision for salvation or rededication, Tippit said. The number of those accepting Christ was unclear.
At least 5,000 other decisions were reported by churches with which 337 Tennessee volunteers worked, according to Terry Sharp, coordinator of volunteers with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Another 5,350 decisions were registered by Tippit’s “God’s Love in Action” group, which fielded 75 volunteers from various U.S. states. International Crusades fielded 150 Latin Americans from Mexico, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as Brazilian volunteers from outside Rio.
The massive campaign covered a territory 100 miles long. The crusade is the most recent example of the International Mission Board’s commitment to proclaim the gospel in partnership and cooperation with national Baptists and other Great Commission Christians.
Testimonies from some volunteers affirmed that God was at work in Brazilian hearts during the crusade.
A man converted during street preaching had been on his way to kill four people and then himself, said Larry Gilmore, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Six people, including an 80-year-old grandmother and her 15-year-old granddaughter, accepted Christ, said Gilmore, who is pastor of the College Heights Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tenn.
“I felt like Peter arriving to preach at the house of Cornelius,” said one volunteer, who explained that many people, knowing the Christians would be visiting, invited others also to be present.
Six people were saved in another home visit, said Truman Herring, pastor of Boca Glades Baptist Church in Boca Raton, Fla. “The person I was concentrating on was the mother. She had real assurance. She thanked me and said she knew Jesus had come to live in her heart.”
IMB missionary Sharon Fairchild coordinated the recruitment and training of 650 translators for the simultaneous crusade, which involved 250 churches in the Carioca Baptist Convention. Fairchild continued to work despite the fact that her son, David, was undergoing surgery in the United States. Her husband, Ray, was with David during the surgery and his mother flew to be with him as soon as the crusade was over.
The governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Anthony Garotinho, granted the Baptists use of Maracana Stadium over a soccer club that wanted to stage a game there at the same time.
Garotinho, himself a Presbyterian, is leading a crusade of his own — to ban the sale of firearms in Brazil. If passed, Brazil would join Great Britain and Australia as the only countries in the world to do so.
As part of an afternoon-long evangelistic meeting, 2,082 rifles, pistols and even bazookas were destroyed with hammers by the governor, other officials and Brazilian schoolchildren, who also released white doves and balloons to symbolize peace.
“Rio, the only arms you need is prayer,” one slogan said.

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  • Wally Poor