At 38 years of age, Junior Rostirola has every reason to be bitter about his past—he had an alcoholic father, lived in an abusive home, and experienced the death of three brothers. Instead, he’s using his childhood of trauma to fight for families, change lives, and build the fastest growing church in Brazil.

When Junior was just 13, he was invited to church by a neighbor who had witnessed the violence in his home. Little did he know that single invitation would help him impact a nation.

“When I entered the church, I was strongly affected by the worship and the fullness that came from the love of Jesus.”

By age 14 Junior was baptized, and by 21 he was married and leading youth ministry. Still, the new believer wanted more. After changing his major from Economics to Theology, he read two books that changed his life: Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church. With these tools, he continued to glean from Pastor Carlito Paes, a Purpose Driven (PD) Coach overseeing training in Brazil.

Inspired, motivated, and empowered to help build God’s Kingdom, Junior hosted a small group of seven people in his home. Week by week, the group grew, forcing them to move into a local mechanic’s garage.

“Only 15 days into planting the church, I started applying the five purposes,” recalls Junior. “After two months, we carried out the campaign 40 Days of Purpose. From that point on, our church experienced exponential growth.”

In no time, they had 300 people crammed into the car shop, leaving Junior seeking God’s will for the fledgling church. Climbing to a nearby mountain top, Junior stayed there for four days, praying and waiting for clarity from God. That’s when he looked down onto the city and noticed a large plot of land for sale.

Even before meeting the landowner, Junior began tilling the field in preparation for the new church. It didn’t take long before the landowner confronted the young pastor who was eager to share his vision.

“The man was not a Christian,” explains Junior. “And he had never stepped foot in a church. But he had walked by the garage where we met and always wanted to go inside. He was motivated to help us build a church so he gave us his land, plus $800,000 to construct the building.”

Telling the story still brings tears to Junior’s eyes, as he shares the miracle of God’s blessing. By 2013, the doors to Igreja Reviver (Reviver Church)  were opened to the community. As a Purpose-Driven Church, their goal was to reach, celebrate, grow, send, and bring the Gospel to everyone, everywhere.

After moving into the new building, they again hosted 40 Days of Purpose, this time growing membership to 600 people. Junior started ABAAS (Beneficent Association of Aid and Assistance to Society), a program that provides support for mental health, orphan care, education, and other area to improve physical, social, and spiritual development.

“As a pastor, I want to fulfill my calling and have empathy for every human being,” says Junior. “My philosophy is to relieve someone’s pain, to give favor to others, to help families, to rescue addicts, and to welcome and care for children who have suffered violence, abuse, and neglect.”

This attitude of love and acceptance has turned Reviver Church into the largest church in Southern Brazil, with four locations, 3,000 members, and more outreach programs than any organization in the country. Their church has invested over one million dollars in local outreach, earning them a reputation as a church that cares.

As a recipient of the PD Healthy Church Award, Reviver Church currently has four medallions and is well on its way to earning the fifth with their missions work in Haiti. Within the next 10 years, Junior hopes to take ABAAS to every Portuguese-speaking nation in the world and have a PEACE Center available at all four Reviver campuses.

“Life hurt me but Jesus healed me,” says Junior. “Through this, I want to make a difference in people’s lives, giving them a new life reality.”

To learn more about starting a Purpose Driven Church, visit pd.church/start.