By Danny Meyer
In May 2016, Vineyard pastors and members from all over Brazil welcomed Vineyard representatives from the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. to a moving conference celebration as the Vineyard churches of Brasilia were released to become their own Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC) in Brazil.
Luke Huber, the founder of PAZ Mission, first introduced me (Danny) to ministry in Brazil in the mid-1980s. I have returned each year to build relationships with what started out as just a handful of independent churches along the Xingu River (a tributary of the Amazon). These young churches exhibited great passion for evangelism and church planting, and they carried a special affinity toward the Vineyard Movement. Eventually they and others became affiliated with the Vineyard. Meanwhile, in southern Brazil, Bob Fulton and some other Vineyard pastors and leaders were establishing relationships with a variety of pastors in that region. There was little similarity or relational connection between the Vineyard Churches in the north and the south however.
For a number of years, because of the differences between northern Brazil and southern Brazil, and because it was not the same Vineyard people who invested and ministered in those regions, there were two Brazil Partnerships. Roger Williams led the Brazil Partnership in the south, and I led the one in the north. It became very apparent in the last decade that if there was ever to be an indigenous Brazilian AVC, there needed to be a common vision for the whole country with one leadership team being served by one U.S. Partnership.
Mark Fields, the Missions Coordinator for Vineyard USA, gathered key pastors from both the north and the south in order to begin the building a single indigenous team. I have to confess that after attending one of those early gatherings I thought to myself, “It is going to take a real miracle to create a unified vision.” The distinct personalities and cultures, not to mention the striking socioeconomic difference between the north and the south, looked impossible to reconcile into a single functioning body of believers.
Apparently, I had forgotten two things our God does best: work miracles and bring unity among His people.
Each year since those initial meetings, there has been a gathering for northern and southern lead pastors. Usually three or four days of this time together focuses on spiritual formation and soul care, and then a small portion of time is set aside for strategic planning and the formation of organizational structure. It was wonderful to see that as men and women fixed their eyes on Jesus, drew near to him, and renewed their affection for him, bonds of love developed among these individuals.
In this process I learned that building vision, setting strategy, and developing organizational infrastructure are not the most important priorities when planting churches or starting a national movement. Instead, the suitable soil for God to plant Kingdom seeds were hearts in love with Jesus, His Church, and His ever-increasing Kingdom.
Over the last few years leading up to their release, even though we all experienced ups and downs in the Brazil Partnership, there was a clear shift as pastors changed their thinking patterns from “my church, my role, and my purposes” and took up the calling of “our regions, our country, and God’s purposes.”
In May 2016, as I watched Milton be released as the first National Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches Brazil and Elba Dolan released to work with Milton overseeing the Northern Amazon Region and its Vineyard churches, my heart was full of gratitude for what the Lord has allowed me to observe over these many years. The Vineyard Movement in Brazil is alive and thriving with over 100 churches spread from the remotest parts of the Amazon to the largest cities in southern Brazil. The Xingu Mission has done a wonderful job in planting churches and raising up leaders, and now the Brazilian Partnership has the privilege of coming alongside the indigenous Brazilian Leadership Team as they take responsibility to plant churches and raise up new leaders.
Danny Meyer grew up in a Jewish home outside New York City. In 1971 he had a powerful encounter with the Lord that turned his life upside down and inside out. He and his wife Penny married in 1974 and moved to Columbus, Ohio where they planted a home church. That home church merged with some other home churches and in 1997 joined with the Association of Vineyard Churches and became Vineyard Church of Columbus. Danny served as the Senior Associate Pastor at Vineyard Columbus until 2002 when he and Penny planted Vineyard Church of Delaware County. Danny has served as an Area Pastoral Care Leader since the 1990’s and has been now been serving as the Regional Leader for West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and much of Ohio ("Great Lakes East") since 2013. Since the mid 1980’s Danny has been very involved in missions, with a primary focus in Brazil. He serves as one of the leaders for the Vineyard Brazilian Partnership. Danny and Penny have three grown children and four grandchildren.