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Central Brazil America First Independent Baptist Church Plant in the Paraiba Valley By Ed Johnson Growing up in Brazil as an MK (missionary kid), I was able to see firsthand the great spiritual needs and the countless opportunities for sharing the Gospel in Brazil. So at the age of twenty, I was thrilled when God called me to go back to Brazil as a missionary. I count it a true honor and privilege to be able to serve our wonderful Savior in Brazil. of Brazil and anywhere the dart landed would be a good place to start a church. He is right! The need is so great in Brazil. As my family and I were praying, we visited several different cities and locations. Everywhere we went my heart broke as I saw the desperate spiritual needs and the multitudes of souls going about as sheep without a shepherd. Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, is in desperate need of more Gospel-preaching churches. It is true that Brazil is a very religious country—you would be hard-pressed to find an atheist. It is also true that there are churches everywhere and “evangelical” churches are growing like wildfire. But real Gospel-preaching churches are few and far between. These other so-called churches are teaching a works-based salvation and a prosperity gospel. They provide entertainment and a “positive and an emotional experience with God” but forget about the life- changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Coming back from one such trip in 2011, we found ourselves spending the night in the Paraiba Valley. That is when God began showing us the needs as well as the opportunities of this region. The Vale do Paraíba, as it is called in Portuguese, is in southeastern Brazil, consisting of over 3.3 million inhabitants. It is located along the major highway Dutra and sits in between the two largest and most important Brazilian cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Because of its strategic location, it is an industrial hub for many large companies such as Ford, Volkswagen, LG, and Johnson & Johnson. It plays a very important role in Brazilian economics. As we were praying for God´s direction on where to start a church, I heard a veteran missionary who had been involved in many church plants in several different regions of Brazil say that one could throw a dart at a map 18 There are approximately 58 municipalities in the valley; one is Taubaté, a rapidly growing city with a current population of 300,000. It was