Westmont Magazine Preaching to the Portuguese
Rich ’49 and Pearl Taylor Denham have dedicated their lives to reaching Portuguese-speaking people and spreading God’s word and Christian literature throughout Brazil. “Serving our Lord has not been easy,” said Rich, “but it has been very rewarding.”
After graduating from Westmont, Rich and Pearl planted a Conservative Baptist church in Condon, Ore., with two other Westmont graduates, Dick ’50 and Barbara Boyden ’49 Michaelis. Shortly after, the Denhams were pulled in another direction — Brazil. “We sold our few belongings, and landed in Manaus around Christmas time in 1952 with two footlockers and a couple of suitcases,” Rich recalls.
Their memories of the Amazon Basin include some amazing experiences. The couple opened the first Christian bookstore in Manaus in the late 1950s, and have concentrated much of their efforts in Brazil in distributing Christian literature. Since 1967, they have published 118 titles in Portuguese, and they recently completed a 900-page Greek-Portuguese concordance published with a New Testament concordance similar to Strong’s.
In October, Rich and Pearl will hold their 15th annual Leadership Conference. They expect 600 leaders from more than 20 states of Brazil to come and hear international speakers. Rich notes that over the past four years, the most challenging and rewarding task has been the Pastor’s Project, which enables friends to “adopt” a Portuguese-speaking pastor and provide him with a book a month and the opportunity to attend the conference. Currently 240 pastors have been adopted.
In addition to their work in publishing, the Denhams raised seven children on the mission field, including two Brazilian daughters they adopted. They also planted a Baptist church in the industrial city Sao Jose dos Campos in the 1980s, which Rich pastored until last December, when God provided a Brazilian minister to take over.
Their most recent project is the publication of a quarterly magazine entitled “Fe para Hoje” (Faith for Today), sent free to over 4,500 leaders in Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique, and Angola.
The Denhams say retirement is sometime in the future. The days in the Amazon jungle are over, and leaving the church in Sao Paulo frees them to concentrate on the Pastor’s Project, Leadership Conference, and new magazine, which they hope to pass on to a Brazilian pastor.
Rich notes that he learned many lessons in trusting God’s provision during his time at Westmont, especially the year the college moved from Los Angeles. His father, James Denham, was the field man, and was instrumental in the college’s purchase of the Holland estate in Montecito. “To see God lead that year in the acquisition of the initial three Montecito properties made a great impression upon me,” he explains.
A saying popular in his college days still comes to his mind often: “Only one life. It will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
“At that time I don’t think I realized that 50 years could pass so quickly,” he said. “Now I know and am daily aware that only that which has been done for His glory has truly lasting value.”