Did you see the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil?
As expected, they put on a beautiful show. I liked how they focused on how Brazil relates to the world. We got to see representations of how the world made Brazil, how Brazilians transform global culture for their use and how Brazil’s struggling eco-system and struggling economy reflect global realities.
Highlights for me included the artistic portrayals of the contribution of Africans who came to Brazil involuntarily as slave labor
and the art in the portrayal of Japanese immigrants and their contribution.
Just as during the first two days, I am trying to share things that the Olympic coverage might not tell. In today’s theme–Brazil is the world–I want to call attention to the connections between Brazil and the Arab (not necessarily Muslim) world. Some say that there are more Lebanese living in Brazil than in Lebanon. Brazilian fast good includes kibe, esfiha, shawarma, not just hamburgers and chicken nuggets. And I am told that Brazilian food is easy to get in Beirut. The two best hospitals in São Paulo are fruit of migrants from the Ottoman Empire: Hospital Einstein (where our daughter Angela was born) is a Jewish Hospital. Hospital Sirio-libanés has Arab roots. Before 1948 the lines between the Jewish and Arab communities was not very clear. Even today a web-site carries on the difficult tradition of telling their shared story. https://judeusarabes.wordpress.com
If Brazil has been made with the help of Arabs and Jews since the beginning of the 2oth Century, Brazilians are also interested in Israel and in the Arab countries. And the spiritual perspective that runs so deep in Brasil helps inform that interest.
As a Brazilian form of evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity has grown, and has involved many Arab Brazilians, Brazilians have reached out into the Middle East. And Brazilian experience helps shape how Americans think about Christian mission in the Middle East as well. Ed Smither is a professor of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University and he has written a book that is used here, but that is about Brazilian missionaries and how they live as Christ followers among Muslims.
If you are interested take a look at Ed Smither’s Brazilian Evangelical Missions in the Arab World.