Author Archives: Jim

No Greater Joy

Fabio and Joy Anna Volpi with Julie and Jim Leonard in Gramado

Fabio and Joy Anna Volpi with Julie and Jim Leonard in Gramado

3 John 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are living according to the truth.”

Missionaries usually apply this verse to their spiritual children, as was John’s intention when he penned these words.  We do have great joy to think of Fernando and Helderlânia serving in Venezuela, Mouzinho and Haildelene in Mozambique, Heron and Laura in The Gambia, and many others living the gospel in various parts of Brazil.

But if it were possible to have an even greater joy, it would be to see our physical children also “living according to the truth.”  This was the case during this past week as we visited Joy Anna and Fabio who are serving as missionaries in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.  Though they are still in Brazil, the people are different, the weather is different, the culture is different, and even the Portuguese is different.

Julie sharing her testimony at the Campo Bom church

Julie sharing her testimony at the Campo Bom church

As we arrived at the airport, we were welcomed by the cold.  With temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees, this was not near the cold we are used to seeing back home in Minnesota.  But the buildings are just like in Northeast Brazil, open and without insulation.  So the cold is more “in your face.”  Fortunately, a native loaned each of us a pala, sort of like a wool blanket with a hole in the middle for the head.  We even looked sort of native, since most of the people are descendents of Germans and Italians.

Jim preaching at one of the church plants

Jim preaching at one of the church plants

Fabio and Joy Anna are church planters, working with two church plants in different communities, as well as various Bible studies in communities where someday they hope to have a church.  We not only enjoyed meeting their co-workers, but we also visited and helped minister in both of their church plants.

The people in Rio Grande do Sul eat well.  This is the part of Brazil that supplies tons of beef for the world.  Fortunately, some of that beef stays at home, and we had some of it.  A native “gaucho” family from one of the churches had us to their home for a real churrasco gaucho.  It was as much standing with the men around the grill as it was to eat it.

A real churrasco gaúcho

A real churrasco gaúcho

Keeping warm in our "pacas".

Keeping warm in our “palas”.

Breakfast with Mario and Iracy

Breakfast with Mario and Iracy

While we were in Rio Grande do Sul we enjoyed getting together with some of our former students who are

Julie and Roselane

Julie and Roselane

also serving the Lord in that state.  Roselane graduated from Bible college with Fabio, and she was the one who first challenged him to consider missions in her home state.  Mario and Iracy brought their young family all the way across the country to study at our Bible college, back in 1996.  Today Mario pastors a small church in Nova Petropolis.  There son later studied at our college and today pastors a church in our state’s capital, Fortaleza.

We arranged to spend two days with Joy Anna and Fabio in a resort town up in the mountains called Gramado.  Though the temperatures did not get down to freezing, they did dip into the 40’s while we were there.  We did a lot of walking, talking, eating, resting, and just having fun together.  Of course Fabio had to learn how to play Rook, in order to fit into our family.

Enjoying a fondue dinner in Gramado

Enjoying a fondue dinner in Gramado

Playing Rook in Gramado

Playing Rook in Gramado

Though we had a lot of fun, we were ready to return home to Northeast Brazil.  After two airplane flights and an overnight bus ride, 20 hours later we arrived in Crato.  It will be nice to get back onto our schedule.

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by | August 14, 2013 · 9:52 pm

Summer Blessings

Aventura Brasil 2013 Team

Aventura Brasil 2013 Team

As Julie and I sat in the Brasilia airport waiting for our connecting flight to South Brazil, where we would spend a few days with our daughter Joy Anna and son-in-law Fabio, I decided to look through the pictures Joshua Huang had taken during his time with us  —  3000 pictures!

The pictures transported me back to the many special moments we enjoyed in ministry over the previous 50 days.

Pastor Renato leading the choir and orchestra

Pastor Renato leading the choir and orchestra

Sacred Music Week  Though we weren’t directly involved in this annual music conference hosted by our college, we did enjoy hosting several of the guest lecturers and musicians.  At the end of the week we were treated to an incredible concert put on by nearly 200 musicians.  I doubt that this side of heaven it can get any better than this.

Bible Study at Antonio and Lucia's

Bible Study at Antonio and Lucia’s

Bible Study  On Wednesday nights we have been visiting a family in a mountain village 30 minutes from our home in Crato.  The purpose of these visits has been to disciple Antonio and Lucia, who were saved last year.  Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and grandchildren have also attended the Bible studies.  Just last week Rose, the oldest daughter, declared her faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Parqhe Grangeiro Youth

Parqhe Grangeiro Youth

Parque Grangeiro Youth   Our church plant in the Parque Grangeiro was begun as a ministry among the neighborhood children, and we continue focusing a great deal of attention to the children’s work.  However, children do grow up.  As they grow, the transition from childhood into the adult world is critical.  With very little, if any, spiritual encouragement from family and friends, we have seen too many of these adolescents slip away into the world.  This was our concern when we had ten of these young people, between the ages of 12 and 15, join us for an overnight campout at our home.  We combined Bible studies, testimonies from older youth, and other fun activities, all focused on encouraging them to stay close to God.  Each of them was presented with a daily devotional book for adolescents.

Hope English Encounter

English Hope Encounter

English Hope Encounter   Americans have something that many Brazilians want — English; and we also have something all Brazilians need, but may not realize it — the Gospel.  This is why we combined English and Gospel for a super fun three days of English Hope Encounter.  Using the Aventura Brasil staff, we hosted 70 English students with activities to develop their English skills, served American food, and had six workshops from “The Story of Hope”, where the gospel story was clearly presented.  Every participant received his/her own book, dontated by Joshua Huang.  We had a great time, and the gospel seeds were planted in some previously unreached hearts.

Joshua Preaching

Joshua Preaching

Ministry in churches  The Aventura Brasil team ministered in eight different churches at various stages of development.  The young people shared testimonies and special music, and made many friends.  And Joshua got to preach six times; in English, through an interrupter.

Danae and some of her new friends in Brazil

Danae and some of her new friends in Brazil

We thoroughly enjoyed having Joshua Huang and Danae Oliver, friends from Iowa,  join us for the summer, and later Destiny Gates from New York, who came in for the three weeks of Aventura Brasil.  Our prayer is that this summer made a permanent impression on their lives, giving them a clearer focus for ministry; hopefully in Northeast Brazil; but we’ll leave the final word with God to lead.

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Filed under Aventura Brasil, Make Disciples, Parque Grangeiro Church