Dear Prayer Partners,
James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” James 1. 2-5
During the past month we have expressed our need for prayer via social media and many of you have prayed. Thank you. Though we can’t share all of the details of these trials, please continue to pray that God will use them to increase our patience so that we can be perfected into the image of Christ. We do need God’s wisdom.
The Cariri Baptist Seminary, where both of us teach, has recently received accreditation by the ministry of education. This accreditation process has been long and difficult, having begun years ago while Jim was the director of the school. Our desire is that this will increase the ministry opportunities for our future pastors and missionaries. On the other hand, there are some potential risks of diversion from our school’s historical purpose: students may come for the degree rather than because of a genuine call to ministry; faculty may be added who have the credentials but not the spiritual qualifications; and teachers who don’t have the academic qualifications required by the ministry of education may have to resign. Jim falls into the later risk, as he would need to have a master’s degree recognized in Brazil by the end of 2014 in order to continue teaching. It is possible for him to complete a degree (though not in his area of teaching) if he works hard at it and places other ministries on hold this year. This is forcing us to rethink our continuing ministry at the Bible College. As you know, we love this ministry in which God has allowed us to serve for over 20 years. We need God’s wisdom to determine how to proceed.
Another ministry which has been close to our hearts for many years has been the Source of Light Bible Correspondence School. In recent years we were able to nationalize the operations of the school, by turning it over to our friends and colleagues in ministry, Pastor Bibiano and his wife Ivonete. We have not, however, been successful at nationalizing this ministry financially. Last week, because of a sin problem, Bibiano had to resign from this ministry as well as from his pastoral duties. After consulting with a board of national pastors, together with the General Director of Source of Light Ministries International, Jim agreed to become interim director of the Brazil operations for this year. The group of pastors has agreed to help him locate workers and raise offerings among the churches to maintain the school. Our hope is to have this school totally nationalized by the end of 2014. We need God’s wisdom to make this happen.
Pastor Bibiano’s church has asked for our help in knowing how to deal with this crisis. The church has responded well and we believe that it will come through this time stronger and more united. The church also asked us to work with the couple as they seek to restore their life together. Though this is something we are happy to do, it is proving to be very painful. We need God’s wisdom. Just one month ago another pastor of one of the churches we helped start had to resign from his ministry because of a similar sin problem. Please pray for God’s servants, that they will be strong against the attacks from the world, the flesh, and Satan.
Many of you have accompanied and prayed for our children through the years. Thank you.
Josiah and Nikki live in Ankeny, IA. In October, Julie was able to be with them when Tabitha was born. She spent good time with Jeremy and Lydia while Mom and Dad were busy with the new baby. They are a part of Community Baptist Church in Ankeny, and Josiah continues at the workplace where he has been for several years.
Joy Anna and Fabio Volpi serve as missionary church-planters in the far southern corner of Brazil. They were married this past April and are excited about the arrival of their first child next April. Recently they had seven people in one weekend trust Christ as Savior at their church, which is very unusual for ministry down there. In 2014, from September through December, Fabio and Joy Anna will be in the United States, as they join the Brazil Gospel Fellowship mission. While they are in the USA, they would like to share their ministry with some churches. If you would like to contact them for a meeting, their e-mails are email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer has recently decided to “follow her dreams”. Because she has long wanted to visit New Zealand, she has applied for an “au pair” position with a family there. She is in the process of getting her visa for New Zealand, which has not been easy. The documents have been mailed and must arrive in Auckland by January 9th for her request to be considered. Please pray for God’s leading in this. If she makes this trip, it will be from February through November. Jennifer is a blessing at home and working with us in the ministry, but we join her excitement with the possibility of this adventure.
Thank you so much for your prayers, love, and support, especially as God brings us through these trials in ministry. Though we can’t see clearly ahead, we know that He is in control, and we know He will answer your prayers. God bless you, and have a wonderful New Year!
Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,
Jim & Julie Leonard