Category Archives: Make Disciples

People in our lives

April 26, 2016

Dear Friends and Prayer Partners,

There are times when we get so busy with WHAT is going on in our corner of Brazil that we fail to mention WHO God brings along to work with us. It’s a privilege to serve our God, as we work together with others to glorify Him. Here are a few updates and prayer requests. Thanks for keeping us all before the Throne!

Alexa Wood, a young lady from our home church, came to Brazil in January. She has helped us organize and keep the OASIS in order so that we are freed up for our other ministries. It’s been a blessing to see how God has worked in her life! Alexa will return to the USA on May 4th. Pray that she will faithfully follow the Lord ‘s leading for her. We have not found a replacement to help us clean the OASIS and our home.

"Grace to Brazil" team from our home church

“Grace to Brazil” team from our home church

Alexa will be back on June 17- 28 with the “Grace to Brazil” team from our home church, Grace Baptist in Austin, MN. We have a full schedule of evangelistic meetings, a three-day English Retreat, church services, seminary chapel and classes, and typical life in NE Brazil. Please pray that this will be a great time of working together to present Christ to the Brazilians. The posters for the English Retreat should be posted this week. Also pray for safe travels, good health, and life-changing ministries for Clint and Nikki, Bill and Helen, Dave, Nick, Vicki, Gail, Alana and Alexa. Pray for us as we prepare for a full house!

Soon after the Grace team leaves, we’ll receive TWO dynamic duos from the USA: Seth and Deanna Peterson from Silver Lake, WI, and Josh and Jamie Huang (brother & sister) from Mason City, IA. All four will be involved in the Sacred Music week, a music camp held on our college campus. Jim will be translating for Seth and there are English speakers to help with the others. Josh and Jamie will stay until the end of August, helping with youth and children’s activities and other ministries. Please pray for these young people as they experience God’s direction, and pray for us as we share our lives and ministry with them.

Jim on a camping trip with the boys in 2005

Jim on a camping trip with the boys in 2005

Jim with Helder, Cacá, and Junior in 2016

Jim with Helder, Cacá, and Junior in 2016

About 15 years ago we began a Bible Club for kids in our backyard. A group of neighborhood boys were very faithful. They went to Sunday School with us (this was before we began the church in Parque Grangeiro), and came over weekly for games and a Bible study with Jim. A few professed Christ as Savior. We thought perhaps that these boys would become the leaders of a future church in Parque Grangeiro. Sadly, while we were on a furlough they all strayed away from God. Jim tried to maintain contact but they showed little interest. In the meantime we opened the new church in their neighborhood. Some of them began to appear once in a while at a church service. Recently, a few have been more faithful at the services. Last Saturday three of them began a weekly Bible study with Jim. Please pray for Helder, Junior, and Cacá. Two are married, one of them has two little girls. As they have grown up, they have grown away from the Lord for a time, but now desire to come back to Him.

We love our Magic jack phone which helps us keep in touch, especially with our kids and grandkids. That is, of course, when the internet is working well. We’ve gotten LOTS of wonderful news in the past few weeks. Jeremy (5) and Lydia (almost 4), Josiah and Nikki’s two oldest, accepted Jesus as their Savior! Jeremy made his decision the end of March and Lydia shares her spiritual birthday with Papa’s birthday, April 8th. Please pray for Josiah and Nikki as they disciple and teach their children.

Jennifer finished her Advanced CNA clinicals that took her into many Des Moines area hospitals. She also had a few opportunities to ride with the Des Moines and Ankeny Rescue Teams. She’s enjoying the warmer weather and having fun with her plants and herb gardens.

We skype often with little Kristi. Joy Anna and Fabio announced that she will have a little brother or sister in October. That will be grandchild #6! They are very busy in their ministries and have many adventures to look forward to in the coming year. At the end of this year they will be taking their furlough to visit their supporting churches in Brazil. We’re anxious to have them come enjoy the OASIS in January and we’re looking forward to some great Papa and Nana time.

With Ricardinho at his 18th.

With Ricardinho at his 18th.

Actually, we have other grandchildren, when we count those who have adopted us as grandparents. Last week we celebrated with our oldest “grandson” on his 18th birthday. Ricardinho is the son of former students, Ricardo and Rosangela. They are like our “kids”, so their kids are our grands! Please pray for this young man as God guides him. He’s taking preparative courses to try and get into Brazil’s top engineering school. Please pray for his father, Ricardo, who recently assumed the position of senior pastor at First Baptist in Juazeiro, as the former pastor took a leave of absence.

The OASIS is growing, with the most recent addition being Jim’s wood shop and the dog kennel. The roof should go on this week. The crew is putting up the retention walls that will be part of our garage and house. This construction team is awesome: efficient, precise and respectful. Pray for their safety as they help us develop the physical part of this ministry. And pray for their salvation, as only one of the four is saved.

Thank you for your faithful love, prayers, and support, we are your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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We are Blessed

November 3, 2015

Dear Prayer Supporters,

Psalm 107: 1 reminds us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”

As we begin the countdown to the end of our furlough, we are constantly reminded of God’s goodness, protection, and provision for our every need and many of our wants.

We have been blessed with many special family times, especially with the grandkids (and their parents!).  Whenever our travels take us near Ankeny, IA we stop by Josiah’s.  It’s precious to walk in the door and hear an excited chorus of “Papa!  Nana!”  Every week we talk to Joy Anna and Fabio, and little Kristi.  Seeing her sweet smile and now hearing “Papa! Nana!” make us smile, too.  We’re always blessed when we see Jennifer as well, as she continues her studies and work in Ankeny, IA.

We’ve been blessed with opportunities to report what God is doing in Brazil at missions conferences at Faith Baptist Bible College, in North Central Minnesota, and in Ames, IA.  This weekend we’re headed to Indiana to visit churches, then on to Tennessee to see friends and family.  God has given us wonderful weather, safe travels and precious visits.  Please continue to pray for safety as we travel.

We’ve already begun packing for our return.  We have a full schedule up until Christmas with family events, visits to friends and reports to supporting churches.  In December we will get away for a few days to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  This is when we do our yearly evaluation and planning.

We have also been blessed as we work with the mission team from our home church in Austin, MN, who plan to come to Brazil in June, 2016.  Among their ministries in Brazil will be an English Retreat for English learners.  With the theme, “Come Celebrate with US”, they plan to share the history and traditions of some American holidays, along with their Christian roots.  This week we’ll have a trial run, as we share the real meanings of Thanksgiving and Christmas with some Hispanics, Karen refugees, and Japanese who live in Austin.  Please pray for this outreach effort and the follow-up.

2015 graduates from the Cariri Baptist Seminary, along with their families

2015 graduates from the Cariri Baptist Seminary, along with their families

We have been blessed to hear of the good senior doctrinal exams and the annual retreat at the Cariri Baptist Seminary.  God is preparing some excellent workers for the vast harvest field in this year’s graduating class.  We are privileged to have taught all and worked with many in this group.  Please pray that each would know where and how the Lord desires to use him or her after graduation next month!

Pray for Alexa

Pray for Alexa

We are blessed to have a short-term missionary from our home church returning with us to Brazil in January.  Alexa Wood is an energetic 18-year old who is wanting to serve the Lord.  She will be serving with us next semester as we organize the OASIS to receive Brazilian missionaries who come to rest during their furloughs.  Alexa’s grandmother was Julie’s Sunday School teacher way back when Julie was 4 years old.  What a blessing for the discipling to come full circle!  Pray for Alexa as she raises some support, packs, says good-bye to family, friends, and church, and hello to a few months of adventure in Brazil!

And we are blessed by you, our prayer supporters who share with us in the ministry of missions.

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Safety is of the Lord!

November 12, 2014

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  It is He who keeps us safe in His loving care, as we read in Proverbs 21:31, “safety is of the Lord.”

Since we last wrote to you we have spoken at three church conferences.  We enjoyed wonderful fellowship, rejoiced at the growth in the churches, and praise God for the opportunities to strengthen God’s people with His Word.  These conferences also represent many hours on treacherous roads where God’s hand has kept us safe.  Our single biggest danger in Brazil are the crazy driving conditions and poor emergency medical care.  Please pray for the Lord’s safety.

Jim, meeting with pastors in Fortaleza.

Jim, meeting with pastors in Fortaleza.

Last week a man from one of our churches, a policeman, was shot to death as he was preventing a robbery in the center of Crato.  The aftermath of this murder has been the death of at least six young men, all involved in drugs and gangs.  The killings are carried out by masked vigilante groups, many of whom are suspected to be disguised police officers, but no one dares to prove this.  Our second biggest danger in Brazil would be an armed robbery.  A recent report showed that every ten minutes there is a murder committed in Brazil.  Again, please pray for the Lord’s safety.  By the way, the funeral of the murdered brother was a wonderful opportunity for hundreds of unbelievers to hear the Gospel.  Many spoke of his integrity as an officer.  Franciê left a wife, Lydia, who is 8 months pregnant and a 9 year-old son.  Pray for God’s care and comfort.

We have been praying for a new director for the Source of Light Bible Correspondence School.  Geandro, a Bible college student who will be graduating next month, has agreed to fill this position.  Geandro and his wife, Gicélia, have 2 children, and are members of one of our area churches.  While preparing for the ministry, his church had him pastor a daughter church in a neighboring city.  Geandro plans to continue serving as a missionary church-planter in that city and will also assume the leadership of the correspondence school.  Thank you to those who have been praying for this special need.

Two of the churches with which we have worked in Juazeiro are currently without a pastor.  Jim has been working closely with one of these churches in its search for a new pastor.  The Igreja Batista Fonte de Luz has done a self-study, identifying the membership, ministries, and special needs.  Based on this study they are now looking at possible candidates for pastor.  Please pray for God’s clear leading in this choice.  Also pray for God’s protection on our pastors.  They are constantly assaulted with temptations which, if not properly cared for, could take them out of the ministry. Sadly, we have lost 4 of our local pastors this year.

As treasurer of Baptist Mid-Missions’ Brazil Field, Jim has been helping plan a Family Conference for our missionaries from across Brazil, as well as from other South American countries.  This conference will be held in Iguazu Falls on March 16-20, 2015.  Dr. Kevin Bauder will bless us with messages based on the theme, “The Pleasures of God”.  If you would like to join us for this conference, with a great group of missionaries at one of the most beautiful places on earth, we would be glad to send you information.

Come join us at Iguazu Falls, in March, 2015

Come join us at Iguazu Falls, in March, 2015

We plan to take a semester furlough the last half of 2015, in order to visit our support team which we didn’t see on our last short furlough in 2012.  Thank you for your prayers for the Lord’s safety on our behalf, as we serve Him in Northeast Brazil,

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Time

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greeting in the name of our Lord! So much is happening, we just have to take some time to share so that you, our prayer partners, can pray wisely for us and the mission field of Brazil. Ecclesiastes 3:17 reminds us “there is a time for every purpose and for every work.” Allow us to reflect on a few special moments from the past few weeks:

Kristina's Dediation

Dedicating Kristina and family to the Lord

Time for Family At the beginning of this month we visited our granddaughter, Kristina Joy, along with her parents, Fabio and Joy Anna Volpi. We enjoyed a restful week with them in south Brazil where they serve as church planters. We joined mom and dad as they dedicated Kristina to the Lord. Jim was invited to preach at the church where they are currently working as well as at a church plant recently launched. We also visited another church they had a part in starting, now pastored by one of our former students. The Volpis are planning a trip to the United States in a few weeks to visit some churches and family, and also to meet with the Brazil Gospel Fellowship board. In order to travel, Kristina needs some documents. They have submitted a request for Kristina’s American citizenship and her passport. Please pray that these will be granted in God’s time.

Time to Serve In June we hosted the missionary family of Junior andMônica who are on their

Junior, Monica, Isabel, Rebecca, & Josué

Junior, Monica, Isabel, Rebecca, & Josué

first furlough from the field of Cape Verde. While they visited churches and friends in our area, they stayed in one of the houses we built in the missionary village, which we have decided to call the Oasis. After this family left, we moved into the Oasis, to free up space in the married student village for two newly married couples. This semester we would like to finish the two buildings we have begun in the Oasis and also begin the construction of our own home. As you know, construction takes time, so please pray for us to understand God’s timing.

Time to Nationalize Jim has been part of a joint committee of missionaries and Brazilian pastors which put together a project to nationalize our Bible camp. Last week, at the annual conference for the association of Baptist churches in our state, the churches unanimously approved the project as it was presented. This was a big step forward for our mission as well as for the churches. Now we ask that you pray for the Source of Light correspondence school as seek to pass the baton. Jim is serving this year as interim director of this ministry, but we are seeking God’s man who can take this ministry forward.

Time to Preach This past weekend found us in João Pessoa where we began our missionary ministry 26 years ago. Julie enjoyed fellowship with over 150 ladies from area churches at a regional ladies’ meeting. Jim spoke at a Missions Conference, challenging the churches to actively train and send out their members to the harvest fields of the world. On Sunday night we had the joy of seeing 8 believers baptized, some of which are children of some young people we baptized years ago.

Time of Salvation The Parque Grangeiro church has maintained a full program of activities under the leadership of Francisco Carlos, a member of this church who is preparing for the pastoral ministry. Two weeks ago Mateus received Jesus as his Savior. Mateus and his family are being lead in a Bible study by Lucas, the teen-age son of Francisco Carlos. Pray that the other members of Mateus’ family will be saved.

We appreciate the time you invest in our lives and ministry, as you read our prayer letters and pray for the ministry in Brazil. God bless you!

Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,
Jim & Julie Leonard

Happy Papa

Happy Papa

Happy Nana

Happy Nana

Kristina Joy Leonard Volpi

Kristina Joy Leonard Volpi

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Serve the Lord with Gladness

March 8, 2014

Dear Prayer Partners,

Psalm 100:2 reminds us to “serve the Lord with gladness.”  Part of our joy in serving the Lord is to serve with you, our prayer partners, our missionary colleagues, and the national believers.

Pastor Marcelo and Family

Pastor Marcelo and Family

Last month we were well served by our pastor, Brett Williams, from Grace Baptist in Austin, MN.  During his ten day visit, Pastor Brett got a first-hand look at the ministries in which our church has invested for many years.  He also preached ten different times to our NE Region missionaries as well as in various churches.  On one of these preaching occasions, Jim and Pastor Brett shared the messages for the installation service of Pastor Marcelo, the new pastor at Source of Light Baptist Church.  It was fun to serve with our pastor in this way.

Fernando and Lany

Fernando and Lany

Jim was also invited to preach at the commissioning service for Fernando and Lany, who are leaving this week for Venezuela.  After a short six-month term last year, this couple returned to Brazil to finish raising their support and are now headed back for a long-term ministry.  They will be working to start churches, strengthen existing churches, and help in the formation of pastors in southern Venezuela.  As they serve in Venezuela, they will be contending with crazy inflation, food shortages, and an unstable government, so please pray for them.

Last  month  we  enjoyed  a  three  day  conference  with  our colleagues in Northeast Brazil, where we combined fellowship, spiritual feeding, and business.  Jim, serving as regional president, lead the business meetings.  This week we are meeting with colleagues from the All-Brazil field, where Jim serves as treasurer.

We are glad to serve in the training of others who will serve, through our teaching at the Seminary, which just began another year of classes. Julie is teaching Special Events (her favorite!) and Culinary Arts. She is keeping busy by preparing a baby shower, “celebrating” one or two holidays each class period, and arranging menus for her student’s cooking labs.  Last week’s bread-making class was a yummy success.  Jim was recently invited to be a part of the Seminary board of directors.  He feels that he can be of better service in this position.  Because of this change, he will no longer be the director of student ministries or a part of the faculty, but he is teaching missions as a “guest” professor.  This year he has about 40 students.  We continue serving as advisors to the student missions fellowship and are busy planning the Missions Conference to be held April 21-25.

Parque Grangeiro Leadership Team

Parque Grangeiro Leadership Team

We continue serving the congregation in Parque Grangeiro as senior advisors.  Fransico Carlos is developing well as the leader of this church plant.  His wife, Fátima, is working with the women’s society.  Franklin and Suzi are coordinating the Kid’s Club and Franklin teaches the adult Bible class.  Alan and Jacqueline have just joined us and are caring for the youth and adolescent groups. Over the Carnaval holiday we had a short retreat with lots of fun, fellowship, and really good food!  These three couples are our students at the seminary, with very busy schedules.  It is a joy for us to serve alongside them.

We’re looking forward to receiving a group from Tennessee who are coming to serve in the finishing work of our missionary houses.  They will be here from May 18th-27th.  We have been waiting over one month for the iron for the roof structure of the houses, which needs to be in place for this team to be able to do its work!  Please pray with us that the roof will be up soon.  We look forward to having these houses serve our national missionaries as they return from their fields of service for a time of refreshment and to report to their supporting churches.

 We do count it a privilege to serve our Lord in Northeast Brazil.  Thank you for your part as we “serve the Lord with gladness.”

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Filed under Cariri Baptist Seminary, Make Disciples, Parque Grangeiro Church

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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