>The Death of Nilson Fanini


Photo: Nilson Fanini

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that Nilson Fanini, the great Brazilian pastor and evangelist and the former president of the Baptist World Alliance, died on September 19 after a brief illness. Fanini was hospitalized a week before with pneumonia while visiting his children in Texas. During treatment he suffered a stroke that put him in a coma, from which he never recovered.
The following is the obituary published in the Star-Telegram:
The Rev. Nilson Fanini, a Brazilian evangelist and former president of the Baptist World Alliance, died Saturday at a Bedford hospital.
The Rev. Fanini, 77, was on a visit to see a new granddaughter and to visit his children when he became ill, friends said. All of his children live in Texas.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Iglesia Bautista Getsemani, 4755 N. Freeway, Fort Worth. Other memorial services will be held in Brazil.
During his presidency of the Baptist World Alliance from 1995 to 2000, the Rev. Fanini emphasized evangelism and Christian unity and met with world leaders ranging from Pope John Paul II to Cuban President Fidel Castro, said a longtime friend, the Rev. Perry Ellis of Carrollton.
“He was a godly man and the most genteel human being I ever met,” said Ellis, a retired Baptist missionary in Brazil who worked with the Rev. Fanini on many projects.
When Billy Graham went to Brazil, the Rev. Fanini was asked to be chairman of the crusade, Ellis said. The Rev. Fanini conducted his own crusades in more than 80 nations, said Ellis. Also, the Rev. Fanini preached on television every week in a mostly Roman Catholic country for 34 years, Ellis said.
He remembered that Graham’s organization gave financial aid to get the Rev. Fanini started in his television and radio ministry.
The Rev. Fanini also founded one of the largest churches in South America, the 7,000-member First Baptist Church of Niteroi, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, Ellis said.
About four years ago, the Rev. Fanini retired from that pastorate to found a new church. He was pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Niteroi until his death.
One of the offshoots of his television ministry was a benevolent organization called Encontro, which distributed food and clothing, ran medical clinics and offered vocational training, Ellis said.
Born March 18, 1932, in Curitiba, Parani, Brazil, the Rev. Fanini received a law degree from Fluminense Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica Web site. He also graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth in the late 1950s.
“He told me he worked on a Coca-Cola truck and did construction work to pay his way through seminary,” said A. Larry Ross, a spokesman for Graham.
Survivors include his wife, Helga; a daughter, Margaret Aviles of Bedford; sons, Otto Fanini of Houston and Roberto Fanini of McKinney; and four grandchildren.
I knew Fanini personally. Many years ago, I went to Brazil with a group of Baptists from the United States to work with Fanini on an evangelistic campaign in Campinas, a city in the state of São Paulo. From there, our group moved to Niteroi to work with Fanini in another evangelistic crusade in that city.
During the two crusades, hundreds of people professed faith in Christ and many lives were changed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For us who knew Fanini and appreciated the work he did for the Lord, his death is a great loss. He labored hard for the cause of Christ and because of his ministry, thousands of people were blessed. May his life and ministry inspire all of us.
Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary


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