Pictured Above: Members of Brazilian Baptist Church gather for a photo after Sunday evening worship on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Pastor Marcos Andrade says he did not set out intentionally to reach Haitian families; it all happened by God’s guidance.
Andrade is bi-vocational, and when he is not pastoring Brazilian Baptist, he is driving for Uber. During one of his trips, he met a Haitian family that needed to go to the hospital with a sick family member and they asked if he would drive them.
Andrade not only drove them to the hospital but also stayed with the family at the hospital while they waited. As they sat around waiting and talking, Andrade told them he was a pastor and invited them to visit the church. Happy to hear that he was a pastor, they told him that they “loved to go to church.”
It wasn’t long before the family visited the church, and they stayed. Soon, the family told other Haitian friends about the church, and those friends started attending also. Members of Brazilian Baptist joke that most people attending today were also “just visiting” once but ended up staying permanently.
Haitian Marie Lucie is a mother of three who lived in Brazil for ten years. During that time the family attended church, and her children—the youngest being born in Brazil—practiced their faith in Portuguese. They knew worship songs and read the Bible in Portuguese. Their heart language was Portuguese even if their culture remained Haitian. Lucie says that her children prefer to go to a Portuguese-speaking church even though they speak Creole, English and Spanish.
“When we came here, we missed the warmth and community we experienced while we went to church in Brazil, and we were able to find it here at Brazilian Baptist,” she said.
“In South Florida the time has come that churches can no longer afford to focus exclusively on reaching people with the gospel that only look like them or speak their language. People from all ethnic and racial backgrounds live together,” said Al Fernandez, southeast regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention.
“The Brazilian Baptist Church of Delray is an example of a new church that is focused on reaching the diaspora and impacting its entire community. I am grateful to God for church planters like Marcos Andrade who are expanding the kingdom of God to all people.”
Lucie, like many other Haitians following the 2010 earthquake that rocked Haiti, immigrated to Brazil in search of better opportunities for her and her family. In 2012, as a response to the increase in the number of Haitians claiming asylum in Brazil, the government opened an opportunity for Haitians to regularize their status through humanitarian visas. As of 2020, the Haitian population living in Brazil was estimated to be around 143,000.
In 2021 when unemployment rates and the cost of living in Brazil climbed, Haitians were on the move again, making the perilous trip through the South American forests to the U.S. border.
‘God is the One bringing us all together as one.’
On a Sunday evening this May, the church met for its Sunday worship service at First Baptist Church of Delray, sending church for the young congregation. Pastor Andrade played an acoustic guitar; a young man played percussion on a box drum, and another one played the piano while the multicultural, multigenerational church sang hymns in Portuguese. The group of about 30 spent time after the service fellowshipping over coffee and cake. There was no separation of groups; no one was left out of the conversation.
“We really are all a family, and God is the One bringing us all together as one,” said Andrade. “God is showing me and guiding me to be everyone’s pastor, to love them each and minister to each person where they are and as they are.”