Introduction / History
The nation of Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. Despite its relatively small size, about the size of the US state of Maine, Portugal was a world power from the 15th to early 19th century. Over 250 million people speak the Portuguese language. Most Portuguese speakers now live in Brazil. The independence of Brazil 1825 led to the decline in power and status of Portugal. Portugal's two main African colonies, Mozambique and Angola, became independent in 1975 after years of war.
Since the 1980s, Portugal's economy has been steadily improving. Portugal is a member of NATO and the European Union. Leading industries include banking, agriculture, fishing, wood pulp, mining, and tourism. Portugal is the leading cork producer in the world. Large deposits of lithium have been discovered in Portugal. Lithium is used in batteries. Due to a low birth rate, the Portuguese government is offering economic incentives for middle and upper class, educated Portuguese speakers to return to Portugal.
Since the days of their empire, Portuguese people have emigrated to regions all over the world. By far, Brazil has been the leading nation to receive Portuguese people. Other nations with large Portuguese populations include the USA, South Africa, Venezuela, Argentina, and Canada. Guyana is home to a smaller number of Portuguese people.
In the late 1400s and the 1500s, poor Portuguese came to Guyana to work on sugar plantations. By 1845 most of them had moved on to the more lucrative retail trades. Many were small business owners. Though they were best known for the rum trade, Portuguese businesses also sold goods made of leather, glass, wood, and metal. Others owned bakeries. By the late 1800s and 1900s the Portuguese were prominent in sports, music and drama.
What are their lives like?
Family life is important to the Portuguese. They are very loyal to family members, and it makes them uncomfortable when they cannot see family. This situation often happens when they live far from home.
Though they enjoy a leisurely meal or cup of coffee, the Portuguese are also hard-working and enterprising. Those who move out of the country as a common laborer often bear children who will take on a profession or start a business in the new country.
What are their beliefs?
The large majority of native Portuguese identify are members of the Roman Catholic Church. The small percent of Evangelicals is slowly increasing, and the gospel is moving among the Portuguese all over the world. The majority, however, are baptized, married and buried in the Catholic Church. Their faith is not an active part of their lives with only a small percentage attending mass on a weekly basis. They are becoming more secular.
Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have much in common including beliefs in the deity of Christ, the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible. Evangelicals disagree with Catholics with regard to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the practice of praying to Mary and the saints. There is also a disagreement regarding the role of works in salvation. Evangelicals say that salvation is by faith in Christ alone while many Catholics believe that works are necessary for salvation.
What are their needs?
The Portuguese must see that their nominal, traditional religion will not result in the forgiveness of their sins or a meaningful, fulfilled life. Biblical Christianity is a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ, not merely a tradition or system of laws and morals.
Ask the Lord to send Spirit-filled missionaries and Bible teachers to the Portuguese in Guyana.
Pray for a Christ-centered revival in the Roman Catholic Church that will result in Portuguese Christ followers discipling others.
Pray many Portuguese priests and bishops come to know a personal, love relationship with Christ and teach it during mass.
Pray the Portuguese will listen to radio and TV programs which teach the way to know Christ in a living, biblical way.
Text source: Joshua Project