Monday, September 21, 2009

Nilson Fanini --- Mission was His Mission

Nilson Fanini passed away last Saturday in Bedford, Texas. He was in the US to celebrate the birth of a baby to his dear daughter. When I learned of his illness and subsequent death, I remembered the spiritual legacy God has carved out through his life.

Fanini was the long time pastor of First Baptist Church, Niteroi, Brazil, a missional church long before the term had ever become a buzz word. Dr. Fanini’s life and vision had global impact via ministry that radiated out from Primeira Igreja Batista to the favelas of Niteroi, where the poorest of the poor lived. Through ministries of early childhood education and family medical clinics, the impact of Fanini’s vision was felt in his city.

His church developed training processes and theological education for church planters. Fanini believed in starting indigenous churches among the various people groups of Brazil and throughout the nations. A man of vision and wisdom, Fanini was called upon to provide guidance and leadership to Baptists around the world through the Baptist World Alliance.

The thing I remember most clearly was his response to a question I posed in his office a few years ago when he graciously hosted group of pastoral leaders from Texas who spent a week observing and learning strategic mission insights that God had given Fanini. In a season when churches were being encouraged to develop their own mission statements, I asked Dr. Fanini, “What is the mission of First Baptist Church?” He paused for a moment, looking somewhat taken aback, and responded, “God’s mission is our mission.” Well said.

Fanini died in Texas. He ministered in Brazil. He touched the world. But His passion was the Kingdom of God. Please join me in praying for the family of Dr. Nilson Fanini. A memorial service will be held this Saturday at Iglesia Bautista Getsemani in Fort Worth, Texas where my friend Julio Guarneri is pastor. How appropriate, Fanini’s memorial service will be held in a church whose Kingdom vision is as big as the world!

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