Written by Courtney Mathos, OGTC Intern in Bolivia
In Latin America, Brazil and Peru have the highest number of COVID-19 cases, respectively. With soaring case counts come more restrictions and longer quarantines. But there is a marked difference in how the leaders of Brazil and Peru have responded to the virus.
Peru’s president, Martín Vizcarra, has responded swiftly and decisively to the pandemic, using the military to enforce a lockdown and nightly curfew. Peru is currently entering its sixth week of quarantine with over 16,000 cases and 400 deaths. Millions of Peruvians are without work and money and are being forced to decide between hunger and homelessness. Many are trying to leave the capital city of Lima to return to their families and rural homes, where they have more support. Because of this mass exodus, the riot police have blocked a major highway and even thrown tear gas into crowds of people trying to leave the city.
In direct contrast, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, was seen joining an anti-lockdown protest this past Sunday. The president told the protesters that they were patriots for defending individual freedoms. While at the protest, Bolsonaro was seen not wearing a face mask or following social distancing rules. He has repeatedly defied medical guidelines, called the virus “a little flu,” and fired his health minister in the midst of over 43,000 cases of coronavirus and a death rate that is now over 2,500 people. While medical officials have emphasized that Brazil has yet to reach its peak of COVID-19 cases, Bolsonaro has continuously stressed the economic suffering caused by the lockdown and his desire for restrictions to end.
While Brazil and Peru’s presidents have taken different stances against COVID-19, one thing is true in both situations: there is a strong need for the gospel in these countries. Brazil has had over 2,500 deaths, and Peru has had over 400. There are many more dying that have never heard the gospel, and the people that are alive are fearful and hopeless. They don’t know the true God that can do the impossible and protect and provide, even in the midst of a pandemic. They don’t have true hope or assurance of Heaven because they haven’t put their faith in Jesus alone. Now, more than ever, there is a huge need for the gospel in Brazil and Peru. Will you consider these countries? Will you pray about going as a missionary to Brazil or Peru?