Brazil becomes second-largest Christian missionary exporter in the world

Brazil is sending the second highest number of missionaries to the rest of the world, according to the director of a Global Christianity study organisation.

Of 400,000 global missionaries that were sent to foreign countries in 2010, Brazil sent 34,000, second behind the United States, which sent 127,000.

The statistics were presented by Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Interestingly, even though the United States sends the most missionaries abroad, it is also the country that receives the most foreign missionaries as well, with 32,400 foreign missionaries arriving to the US in 2010 – the majority of whom come from Brazil.

Beaten only by the United States, Brazil has the second largest Protestant population in the world. The South American country also has a huge number of mission organisations, of which Jovens Com Missao (Youth with Mission) alone has 16,000 people providing missions to 150 countries.

The American missionary tradition began in the United States 200 years ago from a church in New England. At that time, five young men became ordained as Congregational missionaries and set off on cargo ships to India as the first organised group of American missionaries to travel overseas.

Christians credit the first missionaries, Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann Hasseltine Judson, with laying the foundations of the American missionary tradition. The Judson family arrived in Burma in 1812.

In February, the US celebrated the 200th anniversary of the couple's journey in Massachusetts.

According to Dana Robert, the author of "Christian Mission: How Christianity Became a World Religion", by the year 2000 about two-thirds of the world's Christians came from countries where western missionaries worked a century earlier.

Robert added that over recent decades there was an explosion of interest in mission work among Christians from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The author believes that volunteer missionary work has increased due to the globalisation of communications and transport, and through what can now be accomplished by the internet.

"Today, somebody sitting at home with an Internet connection can virtually set up a mission," said Robert.