Mission Opportunities

April 28, 2019

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord! Psalm 67:1 reads, God be merciful to us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; that your way may be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations.” God is giving His church in Brazil some unique missions opportunities.

This month we hosted two mission conferences back-to-back on our campus.  The first, for church leaders, had as a goal to bring the church members closer to the mission fields through short-term mission projects.  This year we plan to send a team to Bolivia in August and another to Mozambique in October.  The conference speaker showed how crisis times have been opportunities for the church to demonstrate God’s love and, as a result, grow.

Within two weeks of the devastating cyclone that hit Mozambique, our churches in

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Pastor Jonasse, distributing food aid to the community.

Brazil raised over $40,000 to help meet some critical needs in and around the city of Beira. Working through three former students who serve there, they provided food and medicine, and purchased two generators to run the pumps that would draw drinking water for the communities.  Even though their own homes, churches, and schools were destroyed, these servants used the opportunity to reach out to those who were suffering.  As they preached the gospel they served meals and distributed basic supplies.  Now comes the bigger job of rebuilding; we hope to send a team from Brazil to help with this.

 

The crisis in Venezuela continues, but so does the faithful service of our missionaries, who, in the face of a political and economic crisis continue to preach the gospel and share God’s love with those around them.  The First graduating class of students at the Venezuela Baptist Seminary will finish their four year course next month.  The team is beginning a third church plant this semester.

The second conference at our college was the annual seminary mission conference.  This year’s theme was “Planting Churches and Reaping Lives”.  Jim’s students from Missions class gave reports on unreached cities within a two hour drive from our campus.  During a conference session we received a text message from a girl named Gaby.  While studying at the federal university in Juazeiro Gaby joined a campus Bible study group and received Jesus as Savior.  She attended and was baptized at a church which is pastored by one of our college professors.  Now graduated, Gaby is back home in a small town 50 miles away, where there is no Gospel preaching church.  Her text message asked for somebody to come preach the gospel at her home and to the 100 families who live in her community.  We immediately shared this need, prayed, and at the end of the session two different churches offered to visit Gaby’s community.  On one of the afternoons Julie hosted a special tea for the ladies of the seminary as well as the missionary wives, with the theme, Bloom Where You Were Planted.

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Jim with student team who ran the Cariri Baptist Seminary Missions Conference

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At the seminary missions conference we were blessed by several missionaries who

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Samuel, the national director for the Brazil Source of Light

shared testimonies and reports on their work.  One missionary, who works with child evangelism, shared that she first came into contact with the Gospel through the Source of Light correspondence Bible lessons.  Another missionary church planter shared that three believers he recently baptized were saved while studying the Source of Light lessons.  Please continue to pray for Samuel, the young man who is leading the Brazil branch of the Source of Light Ministries.  Samuel’s current challenge is to organize a board of directors to help him in this ministry.

 

 

Thank you for your faithful love, prayers and support, as we work with the church in Northeast Brazil.

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Life in FF mode

February 27, 2019

Dear Prayer Partners,

Someone must have pressed the FF button on life since we last wrote to you! So much has happened; we’ll highlight the main events so that you can strengthen us through prayer.  We do appreciate your partnership as you pray.  In the whirl of activities, we need to remember Psalm 143:8, “for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk.”

The new school year has begun at the Cariri Baptist Seminary and we both find ourselves back in the classroom.  We are also advisors to two student organizations: one group promotes Missions and the other promotes Evangelism projects.  Julie reluctantly and hopefully temporarily gave up her Special Events class this year, to allow her time to write a book on the subject.  Jim, as chairman of the College Board, has overseen a change in the president as well as three board members in the past month.  I’m sure you can understand that such changes are caused by underlying problems and bring with them a learning curve for the newcomers.  Pray for the Cariri Baptist Seminary, that it would remain faithful to its purpose of training men and women for the ministry.

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Cariri Baptist Seminary Board of Directors

On February 4-8 we hosted in the Cariri a conference for our missionary colleagues from Brazil’s Northeast, as well as a few representatives from the South and North regions.  We were blessed by the fellowship, the biblical teaching, and our business sessions.  This was, however, a difficult conference as we celebrated the retirement of five of our colleagues who have worked in the Cariri Valley.  With these retirements we are now the last missionaries left in this area.

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Our Baptist Mid-Missions team.

We continue praying for Venezuela, which seems to be on the brink of civil war.  The border has now been closed between Brazil and Venezuela and four of our Brazilian missionaries chose to remain there among the people with whom they minister.  With current conditions, their monthly trips to Brazil for grocery shopping are no longer possible.  Fernando and Eliezer, two missionaries who are responsible for a seminary, have 60 people to feed between students and staff.  Please continue to pray that through these hard days the people of Venezuela would turn to God. And pray that God’s people will have their needs supplied.

Last month Jim spoke for a three day missions conference at a church in Fortaleza.  We were blessed by this church, filled with young people who are excited about making God known among the nations.  This next weekend we’ll be participating in another missions conference for several churches in the São Francisco River Valley.  This year the group  Jennifer in Hawaiihas missions projects planned in Africa, Bolivia, and NE Brazil.  In April we will have two key missions conferences in the Cariri Valley as well.  Pray for the church in Brazil as it converts it’s blessings into missionary efforts to take God’s salvation to the nations.

We appreciate your prayers for our children and grandchildren.  This month we ask that you pray specifically for Jennifer, our Navy daughter who is at Pearl Harbor.  Pray that she will be strong in her Christian faith, and that God would give her some healthy friendships while serving her country.

Thank you for your faithful partnership through prayer.  We all need God’s wisdom to know the way in which we should walk.  We are your servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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The nation whose God is the LORD

January 3, 2019

Dear Prayer Partners,

Psalm 33:12 reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.;” Though we know that God has a “holy nation” of people saved from among all nations, we do still pray for the nations, that the Gospel would have freedom to be preached, heard, and received.

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President Jair and Michelle Bolsonaro

A while back we asked you to pray for the presidential elections of Brazil.  This week the newly elected president took office.  From his speeches and early policies, President Bolsonaro appears to fear God and love his nation, which, of course, we think is great.  Please continue to pray that the people of Brazil would come to know God as the Lord.  By the way, since we began posting our prayer notes on Facebook, we’ve seen many of our Brazilian friends read and comment on our posts.  Of course its great to expand our prayer base, especially among those with whom we are working.

 

Venezuela, to our North, continues to suffer under a regime that does not fear God.  Millions have fled to neighboring nations. Last year some of you helped us support 23 Venezuelan pastors with a monthly offering so that they could remain with their churches through this crisis.  But the crisis continues to worsen. Our Brazilian missionaries in Venezuela are wondering how much longer they’ll be able to remain.  Please continue to pray that the people of Venezuela would come to know God as Lord. And pray that those in Venezuela whose God is the Lord will have their needs supplied.

Last month the General Director of Source of Light Ministries, Ron Barnes, spent a few days with us and met with Samuel Milanez, the national director of our correspondence

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Jim, Ron Barnes, and Samuel Milanez

Bible school.  Our purpose was to help Samuel see the potential and develop goals for the future of this ministry.  Among several things discussed was making the Bible lessons available on the internet, to be accessed with a cell phone app.  Our hope is that these lessons, which have brought thousands of Brazilians to know the Lord, will produce an even greater number of disciples in the Portuguese speaking world.  Please pray for God’s provision, as Samuel is raising his personal support.

 

Since the seminary graduation on December 8th, our life has slowed down a bit, allowing us to catch up on some rest, evaluating, and planning.  It has been nice to be “home for Christmas”, yet it has been hard to be far away from family and church this season.  With the new year, Jim will be spending more time in the Seminary administration, as it is facing some leadership, economic, curriculum, and structural challenges.  Students should arrive later this month, with the school year beginning on February 4th.  Our married student housing, which was half empty last year, will be filled to capacity this year.  On January 24-25 we will be having a joint retreat with the faculty and board members.  Pray for this retreat as together we focus on God’s purposes for this school.

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Daniel James Leonard Volpi

 

We enjoyed a few days in South Brazil helping Joy Anna and Fabio after the birth of Daniel James.  And we maintain nearly daily contact with Josiah and his family in Iowa, and Jennifer in Hawaii with the Navy.  We are thankful that our children have God as their Lord.

 

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Nana & Papa visiting Joy Anna and Fabio, Kristi, Hannah and Daniel James

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support.  If you’re able, give us a call sometime.  The phone number is below.  We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Phone (USA): (515) 257-2766

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Give Thanks to God for Being God

Dear Prayer Partners,                                                              November 20, 2018

Psalm 136:1 is a well known Thanksgiving verse: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”  This popular verse reminds us who God is and who we are.  God is our Lord; we are His servants.  God is good; man is evil.  God is merciful; we depend on His mercy.  Give thanks to God for His goodness and His mercy.

Turma 2018The 2018 academic year is coming to a close with graduation scheduled for December 8th.  This year we have a smaller graduating class: five men and three women.  Our teaching is over for the semester, and we just have some final grading to complete before we are finished with the school year.  Recently we were notified by the safety inspectors that our campus needs quite a bit of work to bring it up to current safety codes.  Among other things, we need to widen the doors to the classrooms, install rails along many of the walkways, and put fire hydrants on both floors of the administration and classroom buildings.  This unusual expense has put a huge stress on an already tight budget.  We have asked our churches in Brazil to take up a special offering for our Bible College on November 25th.

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Men’s meeting in from northern São Paulo and Southern Minas Gerais

Last week we returned from a ten day trip to São Paulo, in South Central Brazil.  Therewe participated in two conferences.  Jim spoke at a regional church men’s meeting from two states, where the theme was on Church Planting.  Both Jim and Julie brought workshops at the annual Brazil Regular Baptist Press conference, where the theme was “Ready to Give an Answer”.  Jim taught two workshops on Missions in the Local Church, and Julie taught four workshops on Evangelism Through Special Events.  We’re thankful to be serving on a maturing mission field, where the church leaders are hungry to learn about how to grow and multiply.

 

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Joy Anna, Hannah, Kristi, and Fabio welcome Daniel James into the family 

We give thanks to God for life and health.  Other than fatigue from a combination of the hot weather and a busy schedule, we are both enjoying a period of good health.  Jim received good doctor reports one year after surgery for kidney cancer.  A nodule which was previously spotted in his lungs were not present in the most recent tests.  We also thank God for the birth of Daniel James Leonard Volpi, born to Joy Anna and Fabio on November 16th.  Both mother and baby are doing well.

We give thanks to God for a relatively peaceful electoral process in Brazil’s elections earlier this month.  Though the nation is clearly divided between a morally liberal and socialistic left and a conservative right, we are pleased with the results.  The president elect and many newly elected members of congress show strong conservative and moral inclinations.  But we are reminded that even good political leaders are not saviors of the nation.  Brazil still needs the Lord!

The political crisis in Venezuela continues, with thousands more fleeing to neighboring countries.  One of our graduates pastors a church in northern Brazil which has begun a Spanish service for the refugees.  Our Brazilian missionaries in Venezuela survive because they make the twelve hour drive to Brazil every month to buy groceries and supplies.  We continue sending financial assistance for 23 pastors, so that they can stay with their churches through this crisis.  Sometimes just seeing the suffering of others causes us to be more thankful for the freedom we enjoy.

And finally, we’re looking forward to being at home in December, the first in many months in which we don’t have any plans to travel somewhere. Though it would be nice to be with our family and home church, we have done so much traveling lately that we are thankful for the opportunity to stay home.  Thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support, as we serve our Lord.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Walk as Children of Light

September 26, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Another month has flown by!  As we read the headlines each day – both in Brazil and the USA – we’re constantly challenged by Paul’s words to the Ephesians:  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light … Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them … Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5: 8,11,15-16)

Brazil’s presidential elections will take place on Sunday, October 7th.  Among the 14 candidates (yes, 14!), they come in every political flavor.  Several favor the teaching of homosexuality in the lower elementary grades.  Others promote the legalization of abortion.  A leading candidate was stabbed in an assassination attempt on September 7th, Brazil’s Independence Day.  Because of rampant corruption the government struggles to offer public safety, medical services, or basic education.  We’re praying that God will use a peaceful electoral process to get the right people into public office.  A Brazilian pastor friend rightly said: “Many may think they’re voting on a savior of Brazil; there is no national savior; but there is a Savior of the World.”   Brazil still needs the Lord!

Please pray for us as we make the most of our time here!  Since our return to the Field last month, we have had to carefully choose our priorities as we have experienced some physical challenges.  Jim concluded his 6-month checkups with three different doctors.  Because of something small in his lung, in the next few months he’ll be doing CT, PET, and MRI scans. Last weekend Julie was able to fly on a ministry related trip to Fortaleza without ear pain or other complications, due to some medication that her ENT specialist prescribed.  Thank you for your continued prayers for our health.

In the next few weeks we have four trips with speaking opportunities in Missions conferences, evangelism services, marriage encounters, men’s and women’s meetings. The second semester is always very full with conferences, classes, and year-end seminary activities.  This being the hottest season of the year, by mid-afternoon we are physically and mentally exhausted.  Pray for our seminary colleagues, students, and for us, that our strength will be sufficient for what God has for us to do.

We continue praying for and sending financial help to the 23 pastors and families in Venezuela.  The political and economic crisis continues at critical levels in that nation.  A recent article reveals that over 2 million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries.  We are attempting to keep these pastors at their posts until the worst of this crisis is over.  We are also praying for Guyana, just to the East of Venezuela.  A recent plan to begin a Bible Institute in Guyana had to be aborted for lack of manpower.  We hope to see more Brazilian missionaries headed to Guyana in upcoming months.

We enjoyed having Joy Anna and Fabio with us for a few days this month, along with their two daughters.  It’s nice to give those hugs and kisses in person rather than over internet chats.  Jennifer is completing her specialized training with the Navy, preparing for her first deployment the beginning of November.  We maintain regular contact with Josiah and Nikki, along with their five children, who live in Iowa.  Though we miss our family, we are pleased that they are “walking as children of light.”

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Pray for sailor Jennifer, in the US Navy

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Nana & Papa with Hannah and Kristi

Thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support, as we serve our Lord.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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When He has tested us…

August 25, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Job 23: 10 says, “He knows the way that I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.”  God has always prepared the road we travel even though at times it’s not easy.  We are thankful for a God who cares, prepares and teaches.  We are also thankful for those who share our burdens before the Throne, lightening our burdens.

Our return trip to Brazil had weather-related delays but our layovers were long enough so that we didn’t miss any flights.  It goofed up our body clocks a bit, and once we got home to our own bed we slept for 12 hours.  We were both feeling the effects of a busy four-month furlough as well as head colds that hit us just before we left the USA.  Upon arriving there wasn’t much time to recover as classes had already begun.

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The AMEN student missions team visiting the church plant in Itapiúna, CE

Last weekend, Jim made a six-hour trip to Itapiuna with our college Missions group, the AMEN.  This is a small but growing church lead by a Brazilian missionary, Reginaldo.  They were blessed to see this small church plant already investing in missionaries.  The student leader of the AMEN, Sergio, is Reginaldo’s brother.  And Reginaldo’s son and daughter-in-law will be coming to the seminary next year to begin their training for full-time ministry.  What a joy to see how God is using this family to reach others!

 

This week, we have been involved in the oral doctrinal exams for our graduating students.  This year we only have six graduates, with the only woman being Valouie, our student from Haiti.  Julie was part of her examining board and Val did very well considering that she learned Portuguese while attending Bible College classes.  She is very persistent and her journey has been admirable.  We serve a great God who wants to use whoever is willing!  Please pray that all of these will be excellent workers in God’s harvest.

As we put together our class schedules we realize how busy this semester will be!  We both teach one class each on Thursdays and Fridays.  Ministry related conferences are filling up many weekends.  We’ll be travelling almost the entire month of November, returning just in time for graduation on December 8th.  We need wisdom and time slots to make up missed class hours.  Jim has a very important seminary board meeting on September 1st.  Please be in prayer for these men and the decisions that have to be made so that the seminary can continue preparing workers for God’s harvest fields.

Please continue to pray for the country of Venezuela.  Through answers to prayer and generous gifts, we were able to send offerings to put food on the table for 23 pastors this month.  Our intention with these gifts is to keep these pastors at their posts, ministering to their churches through this horrible economic situation.  Besides the political/economic crisis, our missionaries in Central Venezuela felt the recent earthquake though they are quite a ways from the capital where it registered over 7.  God have mercy on this needy mission field that is so open to the gospel.

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Venezuelan pastors with one of our Brazilian missionaries, Ronaldo (back row on left).

We have both been trying to take care of our health.  Jim is doing another 6-month check-up, with a lot of lab exams, and visits to various doctors.  Julie has been to her ear specialist, and is still dealing with issues caused by the pressure from air travel.  With her immune system low, she has developed a painful boil which put her on some strong antibiotics.  Please pray with us for healing and that we will learn the lessons God has for us through these trials.  Doctor’s appointments take time; pain does not lead to clear thinking and productivity, at home or in the classroom.  This takes us back to Job and his suffering.  As difficult as it may be to understand, our desire is still the same as Job’s:  “My feet have followed in His tracks; I have kept to His way and not turned aside.  I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily food.” (23: 11-12)

Thank you for your support through prayer as we serve God in Northeast Brazil.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard                                                                Internet Phone: (515) 257-2766

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God’s Good Work

July 15, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  As we prepare to return to Brazil on August 9th, we find both confidence and comfort in Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

On this short furlough, we have shared with some of our supporters, churches and families, the good work God has been doing in Northeast Brazil.  We are so thankful for the faithful support team God has given to us.  Before we pack our suitcases for the trip south, we still have one week of ministry at Senior High camp and a trip to Chicago for Jennifer’s graduation from Navy basic training.

Upon our arrival in Brazil we have a full calendar of activities.  Within a week of our arrival, both Jim and Julie will be teaching classes at the Cariri Baptist Seminary.  We will also be counselors to the AMEM, our student missions team as well as the ATOS, our student evangelism team.  Our Seminary is facing some difficult challenges for which we request your prayer.  As chairman of the board, Jim will have to lead the board through some tough decisions; he will need God’s wisdom.  We also have various conference and church speaking engagements throughout the semester.

Politically, Brazil is going through a time of crisis; a corruption scandal at the highest levels of government has resulted in a president’s impeachment, and a former president, along with over 100 congressmen and cabinet members, serving time in prison.  Unemployment is high and money is scarce, as a result of the deepest and longest economic recession in anybody’s memory.  Please pray that these crises will bring people to God, that the church would grow within Brazil, and that it would grow in being a blessing to other nations through the sending of missionaries.

Since we’re talking about political and economic crises, please pray for Venezuela, our neighbor to the north.  We have regular communication with our Brazilian missionaries working in Venezuela.  The economic crisis, with the resulting low prices, has created some great opportunities in which our missionaries have built a Bible college campus, church buildings, and begun a Christian radio station.  On the other hand, food is scarce, and Venezuelan pastors are beginning to flee the country in a desperate effort to protect their families from starvation.  If God should lead you to help a Venezuelan pastor through this crisis, a small contribution could go a long ways to maintain a pastor at his post.  If you’re interested in helping with a gift, let us know.  But please, keep Venezuela in your prayers.

In our last letter we asked you to pray for our Source of Light correspondence school, and for the national director, Samuel Milanez.  Samuel has recovered from gall bladder surgery and is back to his full activities.  God also provided a car to help him get around to churches in order to promote the use of these Bible lessons.  Thank you for praying.

Thank you for your faithful love, prayers and support.  If you would like an updated prayer card, just drop us an e-mail, or call us.  We’ll get it to you in the mail.

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