Author Archives: jimjulieleonard

Happy New Year 2017/2018

“Feliz Ano Novo!”  Happy New Year from NE Brazil!  “How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experience before our God because of you”?  (1Ts 3:9 HCSB)  As we reflect on 2017, we are SO thankful for your faithfulness in helping to bear our burdens before the Lord.  It was a difficult year in many ways, yet God kept us from falling, through your prayers.

LOOKING BACK:       2017       

– Our year began with a move to our new home after a somewhat nomadic “pilgrimage” of nearly 10 years.  Finally taking things out of storage and dividing them among our house and the various OASiS units was a huge undertaking!  Before we were finished, this project was interrupted by the beginning of classes at the seminary, mission travels and various conferences.


Our new home in the OASiS

-In February, Julie’s Dad was diagnosed with MDS (a pre-leukemia blood disorder) which began a 9 month frenzy of blood transfusions, chemo sessions, frequent ER visits, hospitalizations and rehab in nursing homes.  Our telephone conversations and prayer with Dad became very regular and precious.

-Jim’s Mom celebrated her 80th birthday in April but the joy was spread over almost 2 months with many family and friends.  We managed a surprise reunion here with all 5 of her children, the first in 20 years.

Mom's 80th

Frances Leonard on her 80th Birthday, with her 5 children

-Joy Anna and Fabio stayed at the OASiS for almost two months and we enjoyed having Kristi and Hannah next-door!

-In May, Jennifer came for a two-week visit during which she sorted through her stored things for a more permanent move back to the USA.

-Jim cut his first semester classes short so that we could be in the USA for the birth of Josiah and Nikki’s 5th child.  Isabelle Faith was born on June 15th and we enjoyed creating lots of great memories with Jeremy, Lydia, Tabitha and Jordan.  We were able to spend some time with Mom and Dad Hansen, helping to care for Dad for a few days.  His medical diagnosis was changed to leukemia.


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

-Early August brought us back to Crato for second semester classes. We left the US with torn hearts as Julie’s Dad had been given just a few weeks to live; his chemo was suspended at that time.  The Lord was gracious and Dad rallied back.  He decided that he wanted to have a “rehearsal” for his celebration of life, to be able to personally thank all who prayed for him.  His party was held on September 7th at Hansen Farms.  After that, Julie’s sisters and brothers took turns helping to care for Dad at night at home.

-Just a week after our arrival in Brazil, Jim came down with an inflammation in his abdominal area.  After having an ultra-sound, a CT scan was ordered and the urologist discovered a large tumor on his left kidney… completely unrelated to the original inflammation.  The next month was a flurry of appointments and trips to Fortaleza where he had surgery on September 26th.  We stayed there for another 2 weeks as he recuperated.  Some of our classes were taught via live FB Messenger.  We were praising God for an early discovery and waited for the biopsy results.

-October was busy getting back into a routine of some sorts, with limitations for Jim.  The biopsy confirmed that the tumor was malignant, but the surgeon was confident that the tumor was completely removed and there was nothing to worry about.  Jim saw an oncologist and more tests were ordered.

-In the first days of November, it was discovered that Dad’s leukemia was back with vengeance.  Julie’s tickets were bought for the 8th.  Dad went to be with the Lord in the wee hours of the 7th.  She was able to be with her family for his celebration of life service, to be with Mom in the days of adjustment and was able to spend Thanksgiving with them, counting God’s many blessings.

Everett Hansen

Julie’s father, Everett Hansen, watching one last harvest.  

-Meanwhile (south-of-the-Equator), under student leadership and with special help from co-workers and Jim, Julie’s Special Events class carried on with the Thanksgiving celebration and making the dessert for 130 guests at the seminary.

-Julie arrived back in Brazil with just a week of classes before graduation.  Another frenzy of activity followed.  We received Jim’s test results and three doctors – the urologist, his surgeon, and the oncologist – all gave him a clean bill of health.  (Well, the body scan showed some arthritis.)

-Two days after graduation, Jim, along with colleague, Daniel Ruley, and a group of seminary students, travelled to the neighboring state of Piauí on a missions trip.  We are praying for God to send workers into that very needy field.

-The same day Jim arrived home from Piauí, we left on a red-eye flight for south Brazil.  We spent the day with John, Bev and their son, Joshua, in São Paulo, then caught 2 more flights before we arrived in Porto Alegre where Fabio and the girls picked us up.

-We spent 10 wonderful days with Joy Anna, Fabio and girls.  Three of those days were in the nearby mountain communities that were settled years ago by Italian immigrants.  We tested lots of yummy grape juice, enjoyed fresh peaches, seedless grapes, pasta, climbed in a huge tree house and even rode on a steam train.  We got back to their home in time to make some Christmas goodies and get ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  They had just moved into their newly rented home so Papa was a big help with drilling holes to hang various things and Nana helped put some meals in the freezer.

Italian immigrants

The Leonard and Volpi families reliving history

-After arriving back in Crato just before New Year’s Eve, we got ready for the fellowship BBQ at Parque Grangeiro to send off 2017.

-The first week of the year was spent reconnecting with colleagues and some of our “adopted” kids and grandkids.  The very busy last six months of 2017 made it nearly impossible to stop and just have fellowship.  We enjoyed a stay in a chalet at a nearby mountain water park which included ziplines and a challenging course in the tree tops.  That was relaxing fun!

Tree Walk

Julie in the treetops



-We’re enjoying our vacation time but are keeping busy with various projects.  Julie is trying to finish some decorating that wasn’t done when we moved.  Jim’s office has been brought over from the seminary and there is some organizing to do in both our offices.  Jim is overseeing the installment of a solar farm on our property, to reduce the cost of our electric bills.

– Next week Jim will work on the married student housing, getting them ready for  incoming students.  Four of the ten houses were vacated by graduating seniors in December.

-This month we’re also trying to catch up on routine doctor’s visits that were put off during our crazy months.

– Jennifer, our youngest, has joined the Navy, and will be heading off to basic training as early as March of this year.

– Joy Anna and Fabio will be planting a new church in  São Leopoldo, the city to which they have recently moved.

– Josiah and Nikki continue living in Iowa.  Nikki is fulltime mother of their five children, home schooling those who are of school age.  Their three oldest, Jeremy, Lydia, and Tabitha have received Jesus as Savior.  Their most recent home project has been a total makeover of their basement.

-Jim is part of the seminary board, which will meet in early February.  Please pray for some important decisions that will be made, including a new board president.  In trying to eliminate some stress and heavy demands on her schedule, Julie has resigned from the faculty and given over one of her ladies classes.  She will still teach Special Events and other classes as time and energy allow, and when there is a group of students who want to study.

-We are busy preparing for two conferences this semester.  One is for the Baptist Mid-Missions family in Brazil which will be held in the Amazon.  The other is the seminary Missions Conference.  These events  will be back-to-back in mid-March, and will have BMM president Vernon Rosenau as the speaker.

-On Easter weekend, we will be dedicating the new Parque Grangeiro building, officially installing Francisco Carlos as the pastor, and celebrating the 8th anniversary of the congregation.

-We are planning a four-month furlough to visit some of our churches, some of which we haven’t visited in over 5 years.  This will be from April through July.  Jim will have to double-teach his first semester classes so that we can leave at that time.  We both have heavier teaching loads in the second semester.  Valoulie, our student from Haiti, will be graduating in December and we really want to be at her graduation, as Julie has developed a close relationship with her.

-Our two student families from Mozambique should be returning home in July, better prepared to serve the Lord, because of their year of intensive studies at our college.

We are thankful to God for giving us thirty two years of marriage; and thirty years of missionary service in Northeast Brazil.  And we thank God for our faithful prayer and support team we represent on this mission field.  Thank you!

Jim & Julie Leonard



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On December 11-18, 2017, Jim Leonard and colleague Daniel Ruley, along with eight students from the Cariri Baptist Seminary, took a missions trip to Teresina, Piauí.  Why would we take a full week out of a very busy schedule at the end of a full semester, to make this trip to Brazil’s hottest state capital?  More on this later.

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Packing up to leave on our ten hour trip West

Piauí, according to the government census, is the Brazilian state with the smallest evangelical population.  There are two evangelical groups in Piauí: the Brazilian Baptist Convention and the Presbiterian Church.  The Baptist Convention is making a great effort to grow in the state, now claiming one church for every five thousand citizens.  But many who have attended these churches tell us that these churches have chosen to follow the entertainment gospel route, with a lot of music, theater and dance, and very little time for sound preaching.

There is a real need for solid, Bible centered, Baptist churches in Piauí.  According to several families from our churches in Ceará who have moved to Teresina, they have few options for church membership.  Alan, a young man from First Baptist in Juazeiro, was transferred to Piauí with the Federal Police.  He and his family are members of a Convention church in Piauí where Alan actually teaches an adult Sunday School class.  Alan told me that he goes to his church for Sunday School then takes his family to the Presbiterian church so they can hear a Biblical message.  Carlos Alberto, a former member of one of our churches in Fortaleza, who works as a banker, is now a member of a Presbeterian church in Piauí, and has asked us to send a church planter to his city.

Last July the Ceará State Association of Regular Baptist Churches formally recognized the great spiritual needs of this state right next door to the West.  The churches voted unanimously to get behind a church planting project in Piauí, and authorized the executive committee to seek out a missionary church planter to be sent by one of the local churches in Ceará.

Actually, we have a church, rather two churches, in Piauí.  In Piripiri, a city near our state border, there has been a small church for over 30 years but with very little contact with the “outside world”.  Due to a split sometime ago, there are two churches in the city that call themselves “Batista Regular”.  The original church is being pastored by a young man from that church who became its pastor when they couldn’t find a pastor from the outside;  the church that split off is being lead by Moisés, the former missionary who worked in our state of Ceará.

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Jim and Daniel with our host family in Teresina

Our base for operations while in Piauí was in the capital city, Teresina, in the home of Edson and Francisca, a couple from Fortaleza who have been living in Teresina for thirteen years.  At first they joined a Convention Baptist Church where Edson became a deacon.  After a few years, disatisfied with the lack of commitment to the Word, Edson was encouraged by his former pastor in Fortaleza to start a congregation.  The Congregação Batista Betel received spiritual support from his former church in Fortaleza, with regular visits of the pastors as well as church members.  Financially, Edson was able to care for his expenses as well as those of the congregation with his salary.  Eventually, after ten years, the Fortaleza church felt that it could no longer afford to keep sending people over to assist the congregation in Teresina.  And Edson is exausted trying to maintain a church on his own while having to keep up with his secular job.

So why did we go to Piauí?  Our mission team kept busy.  We made five visits to three different public schools, giving speeches on various topics, such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide prevention; and of course we shared the gospel.  We held a Five-day Bible Club for children.  And we held four evangelistic services in different homes around the neighborhood where Edson lives.  One young man, Luciano, in whose home we held the Friday night service, made a profession of faith and is being discipled by Edson.  But our underlying intention for this missions trip was to expose some of our students to this very needy field.  We would be thrilled if God were to direct some of these to become missionaries or pastors in the state of Piauí.

Matthew 9:37  “The harvest is plenteous, but the laboers are few; pray that the Lord of the harvest would send more laborers into His harvest”

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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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