If the Rio Negro Seminary is considered non-denominational, why was the Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira Presbyterian Church found under a denomination?

Although local churches are not affiliated with denominations, the Brazilian Christian community of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira was denominationalized. So when Missionary Kim inaugurated a church in Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, he decided to name the church Presbyterian.

Introduced below are general information about Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, motivations behind and bringing to reality the creation of Presbiteriana Igreja, when and how the first service was held, and in what ways did the church expand  

its congregation:

Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira is one of the biggest towns in the Rio Negro River-Valley. It is located on the border of Brazil where Columbia and Venezuela meet. Everywhere you turn there are picturesque scenes of beautiful mountains and riverbanks, huge protruding boulders, and varying sized islands. The town of Sao Gabriel was formerly one of many uncivilized Indian villages, but approximately 100 years ago, the Brazilian National Guard occupied the land to use for boundary defense. Slowly, the Indian village of Sao Gabriel shrunk to a population size of 10,000. The town became a metropolis for all Indians residing near the area, and today, it has been estimated that about 90 percent of the population in Sao Gabriel are Indians and only 10 percent are Brazilians.


At the start of his ministry, Missionary Kim worked full-time at the Seminary during weekdays, while assisting senior missionaries who were ministering to villages in remote areas. Missionary Kim would travel from village to village preaching, solemnizing weddings, and supervising Consecration Services. While ministering to Indian villages, Missionary Kim was inspired to plant a church to cultivate and consecrate a congregation to God. He formed a church during the preparation of Rio Negro Seminary's construction after the property was purchased in April 1995. Two reasons why Missionary Kim wanted to plant a church: first, when he used to street evangelize, people were always curious about and interested in attending his church and secondly, when the Indians were saved through Missionary Kim's evangelism, there had to be a place where they can meet again in the future.

Everyday for 20 minutes, Missionary Kim drove around in a mini-bus, praying and looking for a perfect location to build the church. Normally, the Brazilians would reside in areas middle of town or alongside river channels, and the Indians in the outer regions. As such, Missionary Kim decided to build the church along the outskirts of Sao Gabriel where mostly Indians resided. In the most opportune time, Missionary Kim was offered a 750 "pyong" (Korean measurement in floor space) land for sale, and with the support of Elder Tae Hyun Kim of Sao Paulo's Dong Yang Mission Church, was able to buy the property. A 6m X 6m house was built for Missionary Kim and his wife, along with a 8m X 10m chapel for the congregation.

On June 25, 1995, Missionary Kim and a congregation of 25 members had their first worship service. With the help of Elder Sang Hyung Kim from Shin Cheon Presbyterian Church in Seoul, two Sunday school classrooms made out of wooden boards were added next to Missionary Kim's house. The classrooms were 2 meters long built with numerous windows, painted walls, and ceilings covered by veneer boards. Classes opened just in the nick of time for Sunday school.

The original members in the adult congregation were all new converts. So for their first service, instead of a typical sermon, guidelines and resource on how Sunday morning services usually proceed were introduced. Missionary Kim's method of evangelism at this time was to simply walk around town with an evangelism pamphlet in his hand, greeting and getting to know people.


Back then, when Missionary Kim was working with New Tribes Mission, he walked an hour each way to his destination point to evangelize from day to day. There were taxis available, but he could not afford it at the time. On his travel-by-foot, Missionary Kim greeted almost everyone he saw, both Brazilian and Indian. Later on, Missionary Kim realized what a huge impact those small greets and interactions had on his ministry. For the poor and rejected, the best method of evangelism is kindness and compassion.

Missionary Kim also evangelized through house visits near his church, familiarizing himself to family members, exchanging casual conversations, and slowly extending Jesus Christ into their lives. Missionary Kim took special care in visiting the sick, always praying for their recovery. Imposed prayer for the sick had an eminent effect on those who were deeply into pantheism. This also worked for the benefit of Missionary Kim's ministry. The same evangelizing method was used in his ministry to rural villages in Korea.

Another way Missionary Kim reached out to the community was by visiting public places such as Military Bases, Hospitals, police stations, Indian boarding houses, and private homes. These private homes are usually lodging clinics for Indians who contract diseases, get bitten by poisonous snakes, or are discharged after being treated at the Military Hospital. The Indians patiently travel on canoes for many days down the Rio Negro River to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira for medical treatment. Missionary Kim built the boarding house especially for village-dwellers who needed to travel up and down town to buy goods at the street markets. Sao Gabriel's Military Hospital uniquely treats both soldiers and civilians in the area. Police stations are used as prisons for Brazilians and Indians alike who commit unlawful crimes. Missionary Kim visited places like these frequently--usually 2 or 3 times a week Monday to Saturday--to pray and have conversations with them.

Due to loneliness and poverty, and as foreigners in the town of Sao Gabriel, the natives' hearts were always open to friendly conversations, and received the Gospel through these short but meaningful conversations. Fortunately, many of these Indians were from Tribes where the Gospel hasn't been reached and miraculously, they served as missionaries to people in their villages. Although the new-born Christians were unable to become church members of Igreja Presbiteriana, every time they made trips to Sao Gabriel they visited Missionary Kim. Currently, worship services are held at these locations where Missionary Kim used to evangelize. Due to his busy schedule, public-area evangelizing is now carried out by church members.

God has steadily blessed Igreja Presbiteriana. The church grew and began to elect church leaders. Eventually, they constructed a bigger sanctuary for worship. Shortly after the inauguration of Igreja Presbiteriana, the first group of Deacons was nominated in February, 1997. For churches in Brazil, votes for Deacon and Elder nomination are cast every 5 years. Three Deacons were appointed that year, one of each from the Tribe of Bare, Takuna, and Baniwa.

The second Deacon nomination was again held five years later on February, 2001. Nominee qualifications were fairly straight-forward: not to rely on familial or social connections but to consider demonstrated faith and diligence in service to the church and at home. The fairness of the nomination made it all the more beautiful. As Missionary Kim led these Christ-exalting nominations, he felt a sense of pride and contentment in being a Pastor for the Indian community. For the second Deacon nomination, a representative from the Tribe of Bare, another from the Tribe of Baniwa, and the third, a national Brazilian brother from the military were appointed. Along with the previous three deacons, more ministry jobs were assigned to these leaders who were now taking on more of the responsibilities Missionary Kim once had. As a result, Missionary Kim was able to lighten his load and concentrate more of his time on the Rio Negro Seminary, which was somewhat neglected at the time because of the church ministry.

The next step for Igreja Presbiteriana was to construct a chapel. As the church grew drastically in September of '99, the service area at the time was unable to contain everyone. Upon making the decision to build a church, a blueprint was drawn with dimensions of 20m X 10m and about 2 stories tall, and offering was collected for its construction. It took the whole congregation 6 months, Saturdays included, for them to lay the ground-work for the foundation. After the 6 months, an expert subcontractor from Sao Paulo took over and began to stack bricks. Although the constructor did all tasks requiring his expertise, faithful church members continued to come out on Saturdays to help. By the grace of God, the church accumulated a total of $40,000 through offering. 90% of the coast was raised through out-of-church support and 10% from the members of Igreja Presbiteriana.


Some of Igreja Presbiteriana's ministries include: evangelism, intercessory prayer meetings, church administration, church planting, free medical and dental examinations/treatments, house building for unfortunate brothers, tutoring services for the illiterate, and weekly visitations to those who are in prison. As Missionary Kim began his ministry at Rio Negro Seminary, he had to give up some of his earlier evangelism work, which he and just a few of the church members were a part of. As of now, some of Igreja Presbiteriana's trusted leaders are taking on this critical role. Every Tuesday, there is a service held at 7:30PM in one of the boarding houses of Igreja Presbiteriana. Service for prisoners at Sao Gabriel's police station are held 3:00PM every Sunday. Private family services at their houses start at 3:00PM every Saturday. And youth services are held every Friday at 8:00PM for those studying at the Agricultural High School, which is only 15 minutes away from church. Worship services for the evangelism ministry are currently led by Igreja Presbiteriana's trusted Deacons and evangelists

With the help of Jae Shin Kang's $10,000 construction offering, along with Igreja Presbiteriana's labor and offering, a 16m X 8m sized sanctuary was erected last year on July, 2004. This new sanctuary was built 4km apart from Igreja Presbiteriana, near the shores of the Rio Negro River. With the new sanctuary in place, Missionary Kim was able to initiate an afternoon service and Sunday class for kids.

Medical and dental doctors are always standing by in their offices at Igreja Presbiteriana for possible medical diagnosis and treatment. There is also a literature tutoring session held at the boarding house of Igreja Presbiteriana near the shore.

In Sao Gabriel, the only existing hospital is military based, which unfortunately lacks both doctors and dentists. As such, Missionary Kim thought it would be a great evangelizing opportunity if an office with free medical and dental care was built on church vicinity. God blessed this ministry by sending Doctor Seok Lyeol Chang from New York, USA, to build a 10m X 10m medical office within the church.

He offered doctors and dentists in Korea and Sao Paulo an opportunity to serve as short-term missionaries at Sao Gabriel. And through the ministry of free dental and medical care, many Tribes who previously rejected and opposed Christians began to slowly open up their hearts, and were deeply grateful for their compassion and love. Currently, Joel Key Hayashi, a 3rd generation Japanese missionary dentist works full-time at the office.

Long before, whenever natives from the rainforest travelled down to Sao Gabriel for medical treatment or grocery shopping, they always asked Missionary Kim if he can provide them lodging for a couple of nights. After much introspection, Missionary Kim wanted to come up with a solution and began to pray. Towards the end of 2000, God answered his prayer through some of His beloved philanthropists from Korea. Elder Tae Hyun Kim's spouse Deacon Yoo Soon Choi, Doctor Seok Lyeol Chang, and an anonymous missionary generously gave construction offering for a boarding house. After the first boarding house was built, an opportunity for a second house emerged. Jung Tae Ahn, a frequent short-term dental missionary to the Amazon, and the church he attends, Sae Ro Nam Church (Pastor Jeong Ho Oh), sent a sufficient amount for construction of the second boarding house. Today, these boarding houses are generally occupied by over a 100 Indians who after a few days in town, return home to their villages.

Every Tuesday and Thursday night, families of Brazilian soldiers from church, volunteer to teach those who are illiterate. There are also tutoring classes for Indian teenagers who have difficulties in Portuguese, math, and other subjects.

Even in the midst of construction, Missionary Kim continued the prison ministry. When the ministry first began in June 1995, the method of showing them the love of God was simple: to feed them breakfast. Because they were allowed only one meal per day, breakfast to them was like a gift from God, giving them all the more reason to thank and seek Him.

Approximately 200 people attend Sunday services each week--adult congregation of 100 members and the other half belonging to Sunday School or Youth Group. Adults make up 20% of the congregation, and 40% are children. Currently there are 4 Spiritual leaders/ministers: Missionary Kim, Missionary Kim's spouse, and two Rio Negro Seminary alumni, Pastor Jeremiah and Evangelist Josiel.