January 24, 2016
Dear Prayer Supporters,
Greetings in the name of our Lord! We have been back in Northeast Brazil for two weeks, but still feeling a bit unsettled. After an adventurous re-routing by the airlines, which
included an extra night in Miami, we arrived in the Cariri without our luggage. After one week, seven of our eight bags arrived. The box that has not arrived contains a video projector, a laptop computer, several flannelgraph Bible story sets, and the books Jim was using to prepare for a class at the Bible College. The airline has offered a financial settlement for the lost box, which we have rejected, because we want them to keep looking. We feel that these tools are important for our ministry. But perhaps God knows better. So, please pray.
It is nice to be back home but we still feel far from settled. The normal inconveniences of daily life here seem bigger than in the past: household things breaking, lack of good customer service, bugs everywhere, and constant cleaning are just some of the irritations. The heavy rains we’ve received for the past two weeks, though very welcome in this dry land, have added to the challenges. Alexa, the short-termer from our church in Austin, MN, has been a blessing, especially with the cleaning.
It was good to reconnect with our church plant in the Parque Grangeiro. During our absence, Dunga and Dalva, the couple who were saved early last year, were baptized and have become very active members. We have at least ten regular visitors who have not yet made professions of faith in Jesus. The construction of the church building didn’t progress as well as we had hoped in our absence, but the foundations and footings are in.
We are now regrouping with the men of the church to continue building this much needed facility. Our “mother” church, First Baptist of Crato, is going through the pains of recently having its pastor move to another ministry. Our church does have five young men caring for the church plants, all students or recent graduates of our Bible College. One of these, Rafael, has been asked to be the interim pastor. The church is needing healing in some areas of ministry and in relationships between some of the members. Jim has been called on by Rafael and by others in the church for counsel and encouragement.
This week, a visit from one of our “daughters”, a young lady who was saved during our ministry in João Pessoa, reminded us to refocus on why we are here. Haildelene and Mouzinho are faithfully serving God in a very difficult region of central Mozambique. Their ministry is to hundreds of children, mostly from Muslim families, and also teaching national pastors, all of whom have had no formal ministerial training. We have been challenged to bring a couple who they have discipled to study for one year at our Bible college. One year isn’t much, but it would give this young couple more training than any other pastor on that field. Please pray with us for Elizeu and his wife, from Mozambique, that God would provide for this one year of study. This would be part of a larger project which we’ll share with you in a future letter.
Tomorrow we will be joining our Baptist Mid-Missions co-workers from across Northeast Brazil for our annual conference. At this conference we are encouraged in the Word, report to each other on our individual ministries, pray, and plan together for the upcoming year. Our numbers continue to decline as another couple of dear friends announced a change of ministry to the United States. We continue to ask God to send more laborers into His harvest fields of Northeast Brazil.
Perhaps this letter may reveal a bit of the discouragement we are feeling. Please pray for us, that God would give us strength and grace to fulfill the ministries to which He has called us.
Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,
Jim & Julie Leonard