Brazilian village church grows stronger despite persecution

It came down to choosing a job or Jesus for new believers Leo and LouAnne from the Indigenous KDD tribe in northeastern Brazil.  

They worked as schoolteachers in their community when they were summoned to a meeting with 60 community leaders. They gave Leo and LouAnne an ultimatum – either recant and abandon their faith in Jesus or lose their jobs. The leaders said they could not follow Jesus and continue to work at the school. 

“They were angry and hateful toward us,” LouAnne said. “They were saying that we had become traitors and that we were abandoning our culture.” 

“It’s not easy to follow Jesus, but I’m certain of one thing – I don’t want to quit now,” Leo added. “Persecution is biblical and now we’re experiencing it.” 

Ritual and symbolic elements are on display during a tribal celebration. The KDD people live in 15 small villages in Brazil’s interior region. IMB Photo

People in the meeting looked to LouAnne to see if she was willing to give up her job for her new faith. She answered them saying, “Leo and I decided to follow Jesus together and we’re going to continue to follow Jesus together. I’m not going to turn my back on Jesus or on my husband.”   

The couple lost their jobs.  

After the meeting, some of their students came to them in tears and embraced them. 

“On the one hand we feel sad to be hated for our faith and to have lost our jobs, but on the other hand we feel happy on the inside, knowing that we are standing firm in our faith in Jesus,” LouAnne said. 

To make ends meet, Leo has been doing other types of work like farming. Also, members of the church help provide for them and their children. Despite the struggles, Leo and LouAnne decided not to litigate or retaliate against the leaders of their community or the school. They want their community to see how Jesus changed them. They want people to know that no matter what they suffer, following Jesus is worth any sacrifice. 

Community leaders also banned the International Mission Board’s team from the village. Leo told the leaders, “You can ban them from coming in, but the [gospel] seed has been planted in us and you can’t take that away!”   

“… the [gospel] seed has been planted in us and you can’t take that away!”

When Leo shared this news with some of the other KDD believers, they responded in agreement. “That’s the truth!” one believer said. “They can’t take the seed of the gospel away from us. Our enemies can threaten us, but the seed is going to grow! Now we just need to stay strong and not give up. Let’s pray and ask God to make us strong and help us make this seed grow!”  

Instead of weakening the church, persecution strengthened the faith of believers in the KDD tribe. 

“Even though we have been banned from returning to the villages, the Indigenous believers are still meeting and studying the Word together every week and encouraging one another in the faith,” a worker among the KDD people said. 

You can help strengthen this Indigenous church of new believers through prayer: 

  • Pray for God to provide jobs for Leo and LouAnne so they can support their family. 
  • Pray for God to use Leo and LouAnne’s bold witness to bring glory to His name and to grow His church among the KDD. 
  • Join the KDD believers in praying for God to make them strong and help spread the gospel seed in their community. 

Some names may have been changed for security reasons.