When I left Brazil to serve as a missionary in China in the late 90’s, all I wanted was to share the Gospel of Jesus. I knew a few things about missions and even about China and communism, but I did not know much about the church in that nation. One day, as my college ministry team had a day off in the city where we were serving on the Southwest of the country, I walked by a wire art craft store. I could see the beautiful displayed artwork, mostly framed aluminum wire ornaments, Chinese characters and such. Among those, I saw a fish. Actually, “THE” fish – that very one that in the West we refer to as an important symbol of the Christian faith. That’s how the primitive church would identify themselves, by drawing a fish in the sand. There I was, looking through the window, when I was approached by this old Chinese art worker who asked, “Are you a part of the fish?”

Even in my broken Mandarin I could understand totally what he said. Obviously, his question was based on the impression that many in China have – that every Westerner is a Christian. But I confirmed right away. “Yes, sir, I am part of the fish.” He responded with a beautiful smile, saying that he also was part of the fish. He invited me into the store, then called for his daughter, who spoke some English. Using her as an interpreter, he asked if I would like to go to church with them next day. Foreigners were not supposed to visit the underground church, I was told. We could be followed by the police and they would be in trouble. But I was too excited and too curious. The next day I was there at the time he told me to arrive.

We drove for about 40 minutes. He parked his car behind a bush just outside of the highway shoulder and made sure no one could see it from the road. We then walked through a difficult trail for another 30 minutes or more. I didn’t see any houses or anyone on our way. Then we came to a big old grey building that appeared to be an abandoned factory. As we went in, I was shocked! There were more than 200 people there and worship had just started. There was no sound system, no electricity, and not enough seats for everyone. But they were all happy as they sang and worshipped God.

At one time during the service, the pastor called two families up to the front. The first family was composed of a man on his 50’s, his wife, his college-age son and his teenage daughter. He and his whole family looked very sad. In fact, they were devastated. The second family, a young couple carrying a baby, was smiling. I was intrigued, trying to understand what was happening. Was this a moment when the pastor would pray for specific needs of the families? Did the first family just lose a loved one? Was the second family about to dedicate the baby? Since the daughter of the store owner was serving as my translator, I turned to her and asked what was happening. “It’s the Bible ceremony,” she said.

I then noticed that the first family had a Bible, but I was still too naïve to understand what she meant and what was going on. The father of the first family started talking, and said, “This week was the best week of the history of our family.” That made me really confused! “Because the Word of God dwelled in our house,” he continued. I started to get it. “None of us went to work, and my kids did not go to school. My son is the best reader, and he would read out loud to us most of the time. We would read from sunrise to sunset, as much as we had strength. We read the whole New Testament, and the Old Testament from Genesis to Joshua. We are happy that we could have it but sad at the same time. We know that, until every family at the church gets their turn, it will take us at least a year to host the Bible again.”

I was in tears and pain, heart-broken. In my mind I counted the 9 Bibles sitting in my house in Hong Kong, mostly study Bibles that I would use to prepare sermons. It was not fair that these amazing Christians didn’t have even one of their own. I cried, I felt desperate. I told myself and God that I would do whatever it took so that the Christians of China could have access to the Scriptures.

When Nehemiah was told about how broken down the city of Jerusalem was, he was hit. “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Neh. 1:4). That was his calling, out of that specific feeling of injustice and desperation. A calling is when a problem in the world keeps you up at night. And that was the day, in China, 17 years ago, when God called me to serve the suffering church. May this passion and holy desperation continue to burn in my heart, and may the Spirit reveal to all of God’s church in America that we can be a blessing to our brothers and sisters out there. The stable church and the suffering church are all part of the same Fish.


Mário Freitas

International Director

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BRAZIL | Colombo – PR | Headquarters

MORE’s Global Headquarter is located in Colombo, in the state of Paraná in Southern Brazil. From this location we coordinate international projects and provide support to our missionaries.

In Colombo, MORE has a Mission Training School, that is focused on equipping Christians that have the calling to go into missions and help the Suffering Church. MORE also hosts refugees that are unable to stay in their countries due to religious persecution or war.

 

Uganda

In operation since August 2014, MORE Uganda has helped run an ESL School in partnership with a Norwegian organization Refugee Alliance. MORE’s team visits periodically refugee resettlement camps providing support and identifying best ways to implement development projects

 

Southeast Asia

MORE Southeast Asia’s efforts are focused on refugee assistance and resettlement and community development initiatives with local Christians. Our base provides support and refuge to Christians of surrounding nations that are undergoing persecution.

 

Middle East

MORE Middle East started in 2014 with the goal to strengthen the suffering church in the region and to provide support to christians fleeing persecution and looking for refuge. 

MORE has small business initiatives aimed at helping Christians find work and dignity. There is also a dental and medical clinic for the community. MORE’s missionaries do on going visits to nearby refugee camps to provide discipleship and relief. 

 

USA

MORE USA started in 2016 with the purpose to raise awareness about the suffering church with the american church and to build partnerships that will help support MORE’s global projects.

Nepal

MORE Nepal works in partnership with other organizations and local churches. Our team is located in Kathmandu, the capital and visits the interior of the country periodically. MORE’s work has been concentrated mainly in the provinces of Dolakha and Sindhupalchok, which were deeply affected by the 2015 Earthquake.Nosso objetivo é desenvolver projetos que visem à recuperação da agricultura de subsistência – principal fonte de renda destas populações. A partir deste trabalho será possível promover meios de geração de renda para os camponeses por meio do comércio e exportação.

The goal for this location is to develop projects with local farmers to recover their land and subsistence, which is their main source of incone. As a result of this work, MORE believes we will be able to provide more income and support to the local communities.

Italy

Since early 2015 MORE Italy has been providing support to refugee resettlement projects and working alongside the Italian church. MORE Italy’s director has been working with refugee initiatives since 2011.

Our goal is to raise awareness amongst the Italian church to the reality of the Suffering church and the refugees that are arriving at the Italian shores daily.

Haiti

MORE started as a response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010. After the emergency aid that was provided, MORE started it’s base with the focus to develop mid and long term recovering projects around the nation in partnership with local Haitian churches.

MORE Haiti has a Community Development School that is provided free of charge and is a training program to our Small Business initiatives which hold three core principles: financial investment, people development, and discipleship. Our program with those that want to participate in our school and small business initiatives lasts eighteen months. MORE Haiti also has ongoing projects with a local orphanage and a music school (REMIX School) .

Guinea Bissau

MORE Guinea Bissau is working in partnership with House Emanuel, a local orphanage. Our missionaries have been discipling and equipping teenagers and local children, many of which have never left the orphanage compound.

Colombia

More Colombia started in late 2014. Most of it’s efforts are related to Small Business initiative in the rural area. In partnership with local churches MORE has also been providing support to internally displaced refugees that are running away from guerrillas and the internal conflict that has been ongoing for decades.

 

Central Asia

MORE Central Asia is providing support to Christians that are suffering persecution due to local regimes. Our missionaries have been encouraging and discipling local leadership.

 

Sertão

In 2015, MORE started a new base in the northeastern region of Brazil in the deep drylands. In partnership with other missions, MORE has started small business initiatives to provide income and discipleship to families. As a result, a toy factory and a guitar factory are now in operation.