Blessed by Our Prayer Partners

November 17, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  We have received so many notes of encouragement reminding us of your prayers for us.  As Philippians 4:10 says, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at the last you have renewed your concern for me.  Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.”  We have always known that we have a great prayer team, but recent events in our lives have given you, our prayer partners, the opportunity to show it.  Thank you!

Jim’s biopsy came back showing that what he had removed from his left kidney was a rather large, malignant tumor.  His doctors are confident that it was successfully removed and that all he’ll need to do is periodic exams to make sure it doesn’t come back.  Just to be sure no further treatment is needed at this time, Jim is having several follow-up exams done.  Fortunately all of these can be done right here in the Cariri Valley where we serve.

Julie’s father, Everett Hansen, was promoted to heaven on November 7th.  We had already made arrangements for Julie to travel to the States on the 8th to spend a few days with him, as his home-going appeared to be near.  So she was able to be with her family as they celebrated his life with a very God honoring funeral service.  Julie is now spending a few more days with her mother and has plans to return to Brazil after Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Jim has kept busy with various projects in Brazil.  The land around our new church building in Parque Grangeiro was leveled, making access easier for church-goers.  Last Sunday we began the transition to this building, holding our Sunday evening service there.  We will continue using our building for Sunday services while work continues on the finish work, mostly on the outside.

Jim has had several meetings with the student missions team as they work on details for

Piauí! 2017

Planning meeting for Piaui!

our college’s annual missions conference which will be next March.  He is also planning, with some of the second year students, a missions trip to Piauí, the Brazilian state to our West.  Immediately after graduation in December, they will spend one week carrying out various evangelistic events in this, the least evangelized state in Brazil. And next weekend Jim will be preaching five times at a missions conference at our church in Iguatu, about three hours to our north.

Thank you for your encouraging notes, reminding us of your love, concern, and prayers for us, as we serve God in Northeast Brazil.  We are truly blessed.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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God’s Plans for Us

October 22, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

“For I know the plans I have for you; plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. (HCSB) Jeremiah 29:11  We rejoice in our loving God who does have a plan for each of our lives; a plan we need not fear because our eternal future is secure.  Within His plan we’re allowed to serve Him as we wait for the blessed hope of joining our Savior for eternity.

Jim continues to recover his strength and activities ahead of the schedule we were expecting, as told by the doctors.  Today he was cleared to drive again.  The tumor biopsy report was inconclusive and more tests were ordered to determine if any further treatment will be necessary.

Julie teaching online

Julie, teaching in her very improvised studio

For ten days we have been back home in Crato, where we have been able to minister to our students, believers, and friends who have come to visit.  We have both returned to the classroom; actually, Julie never left as she was able to teach from the apartment where we were staying in Fortaleza using a webcam and the internet. This Friday night we’ll host the single students for a special party at our home.

 

Within God’s plan, Jim was not able to go to Venezuela this month; but a team of 26 believers from five different Brazilian churches did go to Venezuela to put on a Missions retreat for 250 people from several Venezuelan churches. Among the many activities, our team taught 35 lessons to the various groups.  The purpose for this retreat, entirely sponsored by our Brazilian churches, was to spark a heart for missions among the Venezuelan believers.  But as usually happens with those who go on a missions trip, the Brazilians received the greater blessing, returning home with a greater excitement to carry out God’s great commission plan.

MCG na VenezuelaFoto

Venezuela Mission team.  Eliezer, on the right in blue, is one of our missionaries in Venezuela.

Lord willing, we have plans for a missions trip with our second year college students in December to  Piauí, the state just to the west of us.  Piauí is the most underevangelized state in Brazil.  Please pray that God will use this trip to call laborers into that harvest field.

Jim and Wesley (Large)

Missionary to Portugal, Wesley Alencar

This week our Brazilian missionary, Wesley Alencar, is in Portugal making final plans to move his family there in early 2018.  Currently we have three former students and their families raising support to go to Portugal as missionaries.  Portugal is one of the least evangelized nations in Europe; but we are confident that there are people in that nation to whom God wishes “to give a future and a hope.”  Please continue to pray that in God’s plan, more laborers would be sent into the harvest fields of the world from our field.

At the Parque Grangeiro church we have again delayed plans to move into our building.  Because the land around the outside of the building was very steep and treacherous, we felt that for safety sake we should do some landscaping and leveling before we made the move.  This next week we have a tractor hired to level out the land; after this is complete we can begin the final plans to move.  Of course there will still be much to do on the building, even after we begin using it.  Jim is meeting weekly with Francisco Carlos, the man who has become the pastor of this church plant.  He is also meeting with some of the men for a weekly Bible study.  Please pray for the growth, spiritual and numerical, of this young church.

Please continue to pray for Julie’s father, Everett, who, though he is not well, is enjoying life at home, taking each day as a gift from God.  Thank you for your love and prayers for us, as we serve our Lord on this mission field in Northeast Brazil.

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On the Road to Recovery

October 3, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

“I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will boast in the LORD; the humble will hear and be glad.  Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me; let us exalt His name together.  I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. Taste and see that the Lord is good.  How happy is the man that takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:  1- 5, 8

We are humbled by the encouraging messages and faithful prayers on our behalf in the past month, especially this past week.  We have experienced the peace of God, which passes ALL understanding.  We have stood in awe as we watched the Lord care for every last detail, from discovering the tumor on Jim’s left kidney through an unrelated illness to a double referral to the same surgeon from different doctors who live in opposite corners of the state.  We just received word from the hospital that, though we had to pay for everything up front, not everything we paid for was needed.  So, we get a refund!  Again, we are humbled at the grace and mercy of our awesome, loving God!

Last week at this time, Jim was still in surgery.  Today he saw the doctor for the first time since being discharged from the hospital on Friday.  His allergic rash from the medication (which one?) is nearly invisible and not itching any more.  After the exam the doctor stated that Jim wasn’t doing well; he in fact was doing EXCELLENTLY!  He even gave us permission to return home whenever Jim feels like travelling.  We were a bit surprised by the news, but are rejoicing!  All we need to do is let him know of our plans.  We’re all anxious to get the results of the biopsy.  The doctor said that he has never seen a tumor quite like Jim’s; it was unique.  All of it was removed, along with less than a half-inch of the kidney.  If it is benign, no more treatment will be needed.  If it is malignant, there will be some follow-up exams over the next five years.  We should know by the end of this week.  We appreciate your continued prayers.

Our trip home may not happen for a while.  The trip to the doctor’s office was just 10 blocks, but three of the blocks were on cobblestone.  The driver took it really slow but it was still quite rough, suggesting that we will probably head home by airplane and have someone drive our car back.  We need to return to Fortaleza for a 30-day check up towards the end of this month.  Jim is obviously happy with the progress, as he’s beginning to get cabin fever.  He’s not ready to run any marathons but he is more than ready to get back into shape and into a normal routine.

The mission apartment has been a blessing:  we brought prepared food from our freezer at home, which has allowed us to eat healthy without a lot of extra expense.  There is a washer, so we’ve been able to do our laundry without having to go out.  We’ve taken various daily walks round the fifth floor, the outside reception area and the parking lot.  We are truly blessed.

Tomorrow Jim will teach his preaching class via online video.  Julie will try the same method on Friday with her Special Events class.  Lord willing, we’ll be home to teach in the classroom next week.  The Lord has given us cooperative students and great substitutes during our absence.  When we arrive back home we’ll have to be shopping for a new refrigerator and washing machine, as our old ones are wearing out.  Thank you for your love, interest and prayers for us, as we serve Him in NE Brazil.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Surgery plans

September 21, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

When we wrote last week, plans for Jim’s surgery were scheduled for Saturday the 23rd.  We were gone over the weekend as Jim was the speaker for a Missionary Conference at a church 5 hours south of our home.  When we returned on Monday we learned that the operating room was not available on that day.  There were several calls back and forth to the surgeon and his office, as we tried to find another date that would work for the surgeon, the operating room, and for us.

Jim just made two demands:  that it be as soon as possible and that the doctor be well rested.  We finally got a confirmation this morning from the surgeon’s office, that the surgery has been set for Tuesday, September 26th, at 2:00 in the afternoon.  He is making a special exception for Jim, as he usually does surgeries only on Thursday and Saturdays.

It’s a relief to know that we’re on the schedule!  God’s peace has truly been indescribable.  We will cancel our plane tickets for this Friday, and drive out to Fortaleza on Sunday.  By taking the car, we will be able to take sufficient clothing and food supplies that we already have at home, that will help Julie with meal preparation.  This will also help us save a little by eliminating excess luggage fees on the airplane and having to pay the higher prices for food in the capital city.

Some other praises:  We are able to teach our classes this week and have a couple more days to get organized for the weeks we will miss.  Tomorrow we’ll meet with a “techie” student to see if an internet connection will be possible to teach classes from a distance.  We are scheduled for a pre-operation visit to the hospital, as well as an appointment with Dr. Alexandre, the surgeon, on Monday afternoon.  He needs to see the exams that he asked Jim to do and also answer some of the many questions that Julie has about post-op care.

Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers and concern for us during this challenging time.  The Lord has given us strength and is working out every detail for our trip and for Jim’s surgery.  We appreciate you!

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Pray for Us

September 14, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Isaiah 26:3-4 says “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.  Trust in the LORD forever, because in Yah, the LORD, is an everlasting rock!”  We currently find ourselves between The Rock and a hard place. What a comfort it is to turn to The Rock. (HSCB)

So, we are praising the Lord for inflammations!  Shortly after we returned to Brazil, Jim came down with an inflammation in his bladder.  His doctor in Crato prescribed an ultra-sound which showed an irregularity.  The doctor then ordered a CT scan.  The scan revealed a large tumor on Jim’s left kidney (that had nothing to do with the inflammation).  Jim’s doctor recommended a surgeon in Fortaleza, the best in the state.  He was not available to see Jim for a couple weeks.  So, we contacted a doctor friend in Fortaleza, the state capital, who set Jim an appointment with another urologist, the best in the state.  During that appointment, this urologist confirmed everything Jim’s doctor in Crato had said, and immediately picked up the phone to mark an appointment the same surgeon Jim had tried, unsuccessfully, to see previously.  Jim got an appointment with the surgeon that same afternoon.

The tumor is quite large, larger than most benign kidney tumors.  They plan to do laparoscopic surgery to remove the tumor and the lower part of Jim’s left kidney.  The images seem to indicate that it has not spread.  They may have to make a larger incision if the tumor is bigger than expected or if, during surgery, they feel they need to remove the entire kidney.  The surgery is scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd.  We appreciate your prayers for skill for the doctors, peace of mind for us, and that the Lord will take care of every detail in this adventure.  This was not in our plans, but it was no surprise to the Lord.   Isaiah 25:1 says, “You are my God; I will exalt You.  I will praise Your name, for You have accomplished wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.”

To be honest, this is way out of both of our comfort zones.  It’s a bit overwhelming.  We will be in Fortaleza, one of the most crime-ridden capitals in Brazil, 330 miles to the north of our home.  We will fly out on Friday morning, the day before surgery, so that we can get a bit settled before our adventure begins the next day.  Without a car, we will depend on taxis and friends to get us around.  Jim will not be able to drive and should have very minimal physical activities for one month.  High blood pressure, or a bump could lead to a hemorrhage where he would need emergency treatment.  The rough roads and numerous speed bumps will be a challenge.  Flying home may be alright 10 days after surgery, if everything goes well, so we may return home early in October.  We haven’t made any plans that far in advance since our region in the interior doesn’t have much for emergency medical care.

We appreciate your prayers for every detail.  There is much to do in the next week.  This Saturday we will travel 5 hours to the south for a church missions conference which was already scheduled.  Jim still needs to do a few pre-op exams.  We need to pack for an unknown length of time with just small bags which are allowed on the airplane.  We need to plan for our classes while we are gone.  Some students are looking into the possibility of internet conference calls for our classes while we are away.  Otherwise we’ll have to find ministry friends who can substitute for us.

Today has been a heart-breaking day.  Jim has counseled and prayed with two men, one a pastor and the other a respected church leader.  Both of their wives have left them for careers and are not interested in reconciling their marriages.  Both men realize their short-comings in leadership and would like another chance to restore their marriages.  Please pray for these couples.

Jim’s trip to Venezuela was cancelled for the 2nd time.  Back in December he was not allowed to cross the border because of the political instability at that time.  On October 10th he was planning to travel with a large missions team from several of our churches.  Their plan is to put on a missions retreat for ten churches in Venezuela who up until now have had no missions program but are wanting to get something started.  The team will go on without Jim.  Five pastors, former students, are a part of the team and will do a great job preaching and teaching the missions workshops.  But he will certainly miss this great opportunity to minister alongside them.

So we thank you, our prayer partners, for remembering us in prayer.  Usually we focus more prayer on the ministries, but this time we ask you to pray for us.  God bless you.

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Brethren, pray for us!

August 19, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  We make 1 Thes. 5:25 our words:  “Brethren, pray for us”.

We arrived in Brazil on August 7th after a few weeks visiting family in the Midwest.  Trying to “make-up” for lost time with the grandkids is impossible, but we are thankful for the wonderful, fun times we had.  It’s always hard to leave, but it puts perspective into what Julie’s parents experienced when our kids were growing up.  Please continue to pray for Dad and Mom Hansen.  Dad has leukemia but treatment has been suspended for lack of positive results and because of the negative side-effects.  He is feeling OK but is very weak.  Please pray for the family as decisions are made about Dad’s care.  Julie may go back to help for a short period.  His goal is to be at home and to make every day special.

While in the States, we were able to attend the BMM Annual Conference in Cleveland.  It was a precious time of seeing co-workers who serve in other parts of the world.  Julie was thrilled to see two missionaries for whom she prayed as a little girl.  We appreciate all that the BMM Office staff does for us.  It was thirty-one years ago that we were accepted with BMM and attended Candidate Classes.

2017 Inner Circle

With our Baptist Mid-Missions family of missionaries, in the “inner circle” of prayer.

As we left behind family, friends and our home church, we returned to family, friends and our church plant!  Our first week back was filled with visits from our “kids”, former students who serve as pastors and missionaries; we saw missionary colleagues and celebrated the Brazilian Father’s Day with the Parque Grangeiro church.  Jim joined a group of men from the church to install and paint the inside doors at the new church building.  They are now working on the outside landscaping.  We hope to have the inauguration of this church building next month, along with the formal installation of Francisco Carlos as the pastor.  Pray for the various people we are discipling.

2017 Dia dos Pais

Fathers and their children celebrating Father’s Day at the Parque Grangeiro

This past week we began the semester of teaching at the Cariri Baptist Bible College.  Julie is teaching a woman’s class about ministering in and through the home, and another class on how the church should celebrate holidays.  Jim is teaching a preaching class and another on cults and world religions.  We continue to advise the student mission fellowship and travel once each month with a group to promote missions.  Next week we will drive south for a missions conference at the church in Casa Nova.  Please pray for this ministry, for travel safety, that the churches will be strengthened and that the students will learn through serving.

We have enjoyed meeting our two student families from Mozambique.  They have been well received and hosted, each by one of our local churches, and are already actively involved with these church families.  Pray that their year of studies in Brazil will give them the tools to be a blessing to the countless pastors in Mozambique who have very little training in God’s Word.

Jim with missionary Fernando and Pastor Erwin

Jim with pastor Erwin and missionary Fernando, from Venezuela

In October Jim plans to travel to Venezuela with a team from our Brazilian churches. The purpose of this trip is to put on a missions retreat for the churches up there.  Several Venezuelan pastors have told us of the lack of missions among their churches and they would like to begin developing a missions program.  Pray for the political stability in Venezuela, and for our effective ministry while there.

 

We close this letter, once again asking you to “pray for us.” We consider you our partners in this missionary work.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,                                                  

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Summer Prayers

June 22, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  Summer is a great time to take a break from school and work in order to spend with friends and family.  But we trust you will still have time to pray for your missionaries and some special needs that we have.

Last week our churches in the Cariri Valley worked together on an evangelistic campaign called Proclamar! [Proclaim!].  Over 350 believers put in many hours of work to make this effort happen.  Among these were the twelve students from Jim’s Evangelism class at the Cariri Baptist Seminary, who worked on the street evangelism team.  Though we don’t have a final count, at least 15 adults and 35 children were counseled for salvation decisions and now the churches are doing follow up.

Proclamar

PROCLAMAR! Evangelistic meetings in the Cariri.

We have been praying for our students from Mozambique to receive the necessary travel documents to come to Brazil.  The visas were granted two weeks ago, and the two families should be flying from Africa to Brazil on July 5th.  Please pray that this study program will prepare them to be a blessing in the training of other pastors in Mozambique.  We are still in need of some support to cover their travel, living and study expenses for the year.  Thank you for your prayers as they travel, adapt, and begin their studies.

 

 

On June 13, we arrived in the Midwest to spend a few weeks with our family during some important moments.  Two days later, Isabelle Faith Leonard was born to Josiah and Nikki, joining two brothers and two sisters.  “Papa” and “Nana” stayed at home with the older four while Mom and Dad were in the hospital.  We are enjoying the special time spent with our grandchildren.

Isabelle

Papa and Nana with Jeremy, Lydia, Tabitha, and Jordan, welcoming baby Isabelle.

This week we visited Julie’s father in southern Minnesota, who is in a nursing home for rehab as he undergoes treatments for a serious medical condition.  Please continue praying for his strength and healing, and for the challenges they will have when he returns home.

DSC_0507 (Large)

Visiting with Great-Grandpa Hansen

Last Thursday Jim’s brother, John, was taken to the hospital in São Paulo for bleeding in his lungs.  By Monday, as they were not able to get the bleeding stopped, the doctors decided to remove the lower part of his left lung.  He is now recovering from surgery, but is still in critical condition, as infection has set in.  Please uphold John and Bev in your prayers.

We are grateful to God for you, our support team, who faithfully pray for us and the ministries in Northeast Brazil.  As missionary Paul says it, in Philippians 1:3,5 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,… because of your partnership in the gospel….”  Thank you!

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Phone: (515) 257-2766

Emails:  jim.leonard@hotmail.com       juliemarieleonard@hotmail.com   

 

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