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The nation whose God is the LORD

January 3, 2019

Dear Prayer Partners,

Psalm 33:12 reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.;” Though we know that God has a “holy nation” of people saved from among all nations, we do still pray for the nations, that the Gospel would have freedom to be preached, heard, and received.

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President Jair and Michelle Bolsonaro

A while back we asked you to pray for the presidential elections of Brazil.  This week the newly elected president took office.  From his speeches and early policies, President Bolsonaro appears to fear God and love his nation, which, of course, we think is great.  Please continue to pray that the people of Brazil would come to know God as the Lord.  By the way, since we began posting our prayer notes on Facebook, we’ve seen many of our Brazilian friends read and comment on our posts.  Of course its great to expand our prayer base, especially among those with whom we are working.

 

Venezuela, to our North, continues to suffer under a regime that does not fear God.  Millions have fled to neighboring nations. Last year some of you helped us support 23 Venezuelan pastors with a monthly offering so that they could remain with their churches through this crisis.  But the crisis continues to worsen. Our Brazilian missionaries in Venezuela are wondering how much longer they’ll be able to remain.  Please continue to pray that the people of Venezuela would come to know God as Lord. And pray that those in Venezuela whose God is the Lord will have their needs supplied.

Last month the General Director of Source of Light Ministries, Ron Barnes, spent a few days with us and met with Samuel Milanez, the national director of our correspondence

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Jim, Ron Barnes, and Samuel Milanez

Bible school.  Our purpose was to help Samuel see the potential and develop goals for the future of this ministry.  Among several things discussed was making the Bible lessons available on the internet, to be accessed with a cell phone app.  Our hope is that these lessons, which have brought thousands of Brazilians to know the Lord, will produce an even greater number of disciples in the Portuguese speaking world.  Please pray for God’s provision, as Samuel is raising his personal support.

 

Since the seminary graduation on December 8th, our life has slowed down a bit, allowing us to catch up on some rest, evaluating, and planning.  It has been nice to be “home for Christmas”, yet it has been hard to be far away from family and church this season.  With the new year, Jim will be spending more time in the Seminary administration, as it is facing some leadership, economic, curriculum, and structural challenges.  Students should arrive later this month, with the school year beginning on February 4th.  Our married student housing, which was half empty last year, will be filled to capacity this year.  On January 24-25 we will be having a joint retreat with the faculty and board members.  Pray for this retreat as together we focus on God’s purposes for this school.

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Daniel James Leonard Volpi

 

We enjoyed a few days in South Brazil helping Joy Anna and Fabio after the birth of Daniel James.  And we maintain nearly daily contact with Josiah and his family in Iowa, and Jennifer in Hawaii with the Navy.  We are thankful that our children have God as their Lord.

 

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Nana & Papa visiting Joy Anna and Fabio, Kristi, Hannah and Daniel James

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support.  If you’re able, give us a call sometime.  The phone number is below.  We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Phone (USA): (515) 257-2766

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Give Thanks to God for Being God

Dear Prayer Partners,                                                              November 20, 2018

Psalm 136:1 is a well known Thanksgiving verse: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”  This popular verse reminds us who God is and who we are.  God is our Lord; we are His servants.  God is good; man is evil.  God is merciful; we depend on His mercy.  Give thanks to God for His goodness and His mercy.

Turma 2018The 2018 academic year is coming to a close with graduation scheduled for December 8th.  This year we have a smaller graduating class: five men and three women.  Our teaching is over for the semester, and we just have some final grading to complete before we are finished with the school year.  Recently we were notified by the safety inspectors that our campus needs quite a bit of work to bring it up to current safety codes.  Among other things, we need to widen the doors to the classrooms, install rails along many of the walkways, and put fire hydrants on both floors of the administration and classroom buildings.  This unusual expense has put a huge stress on an already tight budget.  We have asked our churches in Brazil to take up a special offering for our Bible College on November 25th.

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Men’s meeting in from northern São Paulo and Southern Minas Gerais

Last week we returned from a ten day trip to São Paulo, in South Central Brazil.  Therewe participated in two conferences.  Jim spoke at a regional church men’s meeting from two states, where the theme was on Church Planting.  Both Jim and Julie brought workshops at the annual Brazil Regular Baptist Press conference, where the theme was “Ready to Give an Answer”.  Jim taught two workshops on Missions in the Local Church, and Julie taught four workshops on Evangelism Through Special Events.  We’re thankful to be serving on a maturing mission field, where the church leaders are hungry to learn about how to grow and multiply.

 

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Joy Anna, Hannah, Kristi, and Fabio welcome Daniel James into the family 

We give thanks to God for life and health.  Other than fatigue from a combination of the hot weather and a busy schedule, we are both enjoying a period of good health.  Jim received good doctor reports one year after surgery for kidney cancer.  A nodule which was previously spotted in his lungs were not present in the most recent tests.  We also thank God for the birth of Daniel James Leonard Volpi, born to Joy Anna and Fabio on November 16th.  Both mother and baby are doing well.

We give thanks to God for a relatively peaceful electoral process in Brazil’s elections earlier this month.  Though the nation is clearly divided between a morally liberal and socialistic left and a conservative right, we are pleased with the results.  The president elect and many newly elected members of congress show strong conservative and moral inclinations.  But we are reminded that even good political leaders are not saviors of the nation.  Brazil still needs the Lord!

The political crisis in Venezuela continues, with thousands more fleeing to neighboring countries.  One of our graduates pastors a church in northern Brazil which has begun a Spanish service for the refugees.  Our Brazilian missionaries in Venezuela survive because they make the twelve hour drive to Brazil every month to buy groceries and supplies.  We continue sending financial assistance for 23 pastors, so that they can stay with their churches through this crisis.  Sometimes just seeing the suffering of others causes us to be more thankful for the freedom we enjoy.

And finally, we’re looking forward to being at home in December, the first in many months in which we don’t have any plans to travel somewhere. Though it would be nice to be with our family and home church, we have done so much traveling lately that we are thankful for the opportunity to stay home.  Thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support, as we serve our Lord.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Walk as Children of Light

September 26, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Another month has flown by!  As we read the headlines each day – both in Brazil and the USA – we’re constantly challenged by Paul’s words to the Ephesians:  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light … Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them … Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5: 8,11,15-16)

Brazil’s presidential elections will take place on Sunday, October 7th.  Among the 14 candidates (yes, 14!), they come in every political flavor.  Several favor the teaching of homosexuality in the lower elementary grades.  Others promote the legalization of abortion.  A leading candidate was stabbed in an assassination attempt on September 7th, Brazil’s Independence Day.  Because of rampant corruption the government struggles to offer public safety, medical services, or basic education.  We’re praying that God will use a peaceful electoral process to get the right people into public office.  A Brazilian pastor friend rightly said: “Many may think they’re voting on a savior of Brazil; there is no national savior; but there is a Savior of the World.”   Brazil still needs the Lord!

Please pray for us as we make the most of our time here!  Since our return to the Field last month, we have had to carefully choose our priorities as we have experienced some physical challenges.  Jim concluded his 6-month checkups with three different doctors.  Because of something small in his lung, in the next few months he’ll be doing CT, PET, and MRI scans. Last weekend Julie was able to fly on a ministry related trip to Fortaleza without ear pain or other complications, due to some medication that her ENT specialist prescribed.  Thank you for your continued prayers for our health.

In the next few weeks we have four trips with speaking opportunities in Missions conferences, evangelism services, marriage encounters, men’s and women’s meetings. The second semester is always very full with conferences, classes, and year-end seminary activities.  This being the hottest season of the year, by mid-afternoon we are physically and mentally exhausted.  Pray for our seminary colleagues, students, and for us, that our strength will be sufficient for what God has for us to do.

We continue praying for and sending financial help to the 23 pastors and families in Venezuela.  The political and economic crisis continues at critical levels in that nation.  A recent article reveals that over 2 million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries.  We are attempting to keep these pastors at their posts until the worst of this crisis is over.  We are also praying for Guyana, just to the East of Venezuela.  A recent plan to begin a Bible Institute in Guyana had to be aborted for lack of manpower.  We hope to see more Brazilian missionaries headed to Guyana in upcoming months.

We enjoyed having Joy Anna and Fabio with us for a few days this month, along with their two daughters.  It’s nice to give those hugs and kisses in person rather than over internet chats.  Jennifer is completing her specialized training with the Navy, preparing for her first deployment the beginning of November.  We maintain regular contact with Josiah and Nikki, along with their five children, who live in Iowa.  Though we miss our family, we are pleased that they are “walking as children of light.”

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Pray for sailor Jennifer, in the US Navy

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Nana & Papa with Hannah and Kristi

Thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support, as we serve our Lord.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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When He has tested us…

August 25, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Job 23: 10 says, “He knows the way that I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.”  God has always prepared the road we travel even though at times it’s not easy.  We are thankful for a God who cares, prepares and teaches.  We are also thankful for those who share our burdens before the Throne, lightening our burdens.

Our return trip to Brazil had weather-related delays but our layovers were long enough so that we didn’t miss any flights.  It goofed up our body clocks a bit, and once we got home to our own bed we slept for 12 hours.  We were both feeling the effects of a busy four-month furlough as well as head colds that hit us just before we left the USA.  Upon arriving there wasn’t much time to recover as classes had already begun.

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The AMEN student missions team visiting the church plant in Itapiúna, CE

Last weekend, Jim made a six-hour trip to Itapiuna with our college Missions group, the AMEN.  This is a small but growing church lead by a Brazilian missionary, Reginaldo.  They were blessed to see this small church plant already investing in missionaries.  The student leader of the AMEN, Sergio, is Reginaldo’s brother.  And Reginaldo’s son and daughter-in-law will be coming to the seminary next year to begin their training for full-time ministry.  What a joy to see how God is using this family to reach others!

 

This week, we have been involved in the oral doctrinal exams for our graduating students.  This year we only have six graduates, with the only woman being Valouie, our student from Haiti.  Julie was part of her examining board and Val did very well considering that she learned Portuguese while attending Bible College classes.  She is very persistent and her journey has been admirable.  We serve a great God who wants to use whoever is willing!  Please pray that all of these will be excellent workers in God’s harvest.

As we put together our class schedules we realize how busy this semester will be!  We both teach one class each on Thursdays and Fridays.  Ministry related conferences are filling up many weekends.  We’ll be travelling almost the entire month of November, returning just in time for graduation on December 8th.  We need wisdom and time slots to make up missed class hours.  Jim has a very important seminary board meeting on September 1st.  Please be in prayer for these men and the decisions that have to be made so that the seminary can continue preparing workers for God’s harvest fields.

Please continue to pray for the country of Venezuela.  Through answers to prayer and generous gifts, we were able to send offerings to put food on the table for 23 pastors this month.  Our intention with these gifts is to keep these pastors at their posts, ministering to their churches through this horrible economic situation.  Besides the political/economic crisis, our missionaries in Central Venezuela felt the recent earthquake though they are quite a ways from the capital where it registered over 7.  God have mercy on this needy mission field that is so open to the gospel.

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Venezuelan pastors with one of our Brazilian missionaries, Ronaldo (back row on left).

We have both been trying to take care of our health.  Jim is doing another 6-month check-up, with a lot of lab exams, and visits to various doctors.  Julie has been to her ear specialist, and is still dealing with issues caused by the pressure from air travel.  With her immune system low, she has developed a painful boil which put her on some strong antibiotics.  Please pray with us for healing and that we will learn the lessons God has for us through these trials.  Doctor’s appointments take time; pain does not lead to clear thinking and productivity, at home or in the classroom.  This takes us back to Job and his suffering.  As difficult as it may be to understand, our desire is still the same as Job’s:  “My feet have followed in His tracks; I have kept to His way and not turned aside.  I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily food.” (23: 11-12)

Thank you for your support through prayer as we serve God in Northeast Brazil.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard                                                                Internet Phone: (515) 257-2766

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God’s Good Work

July 15, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  As we prepare to return to Brazil on August 9th, we find both confidence and comfort in Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

On this short furlough, we have shared with some of our supporters, churches and families, the good work God has been doing in Northeast Brazil.  We are so thankful for the faithful support team God has given to us.  Before we pack our suitcases for the trip south, we still have one week of ministry at Senior High camp and a trip to Chicago for Jennifer’s graduation from Navy basic training.

Upon our arrival in Brazil we have a full calendar of activities.  Within a week of our arrival, both Jim and Julie will be teaching classes at the Cariri Baptist Seminary.  We will also be counselors to the AMEM, our student missions team as well as the ATOS, our student evangelism team.  Our Seminary is facing some difficult challenges for which we request your prayer.  As chairman of the board, Jim will have to lead the board through some tough decisions; he will need God’s wisdom.  We also have various conference and church speaking engagements throughout the semester.

Politically, Brazil is going through a time of crisis; a corruption scandal at the highest levels of government has resulted in a president’s impeachment, and a former president, along with over 100 congressmen and cabinet members, serving time in prison.  Unemployment is high and money is scarce, as a result of the deepest and longest economic recession in anybody’s memory.  Please pray that these crises will bring people to God, that the church would grow within Brazil, and that it would grow in being a blessing to other nations through the sending of missionaries.

Since we’re talking about political and economic crises, please pray for Venezuela, our neighbor to the north.  We have regular communication with our Brazilian missionaries working in Venezuela.  The economic crisis, with the resulting low prices, has created some great opportunities in which our missionaries have built a Bible college campus, church buildings, and begun a Christian radio station.  On the other hand, food is scarce, and Venezuelan pastors are beginning to flee the country in a desperate effort to protect their families from starvation.  If God should lead you to help a Venezuelan pastor through this crisis, a small contribution could go a long ways to maintain a pastor at his post.  If you’re interested in helping with a gift, let us know.  But please, keep Venezuela in your prayers.

In our last letter we asked you to pray for our Source of Light correspondence school, and for the national director, Samuel Milanez.  Samuel has recovered from gall bladder surgery and is back to his full activities.  God also provided a car to help him get around to churches in order to promote the use of these Bible lessons.  Thank you for praying.

Thank you for your faithful love, prayers and support.  If you would like an updated prayer card, just drop us an e-mail, or call us.  We’ll get it to you in the mail.

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Springtime Furlough

May 23, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  The writing of this prayer note catches us on a beautiful spring day in Illinois where we are visiting some of our support team.  We have been in the United States since mid-April, and plan to return to the mission field the beginning of August.

Since Northeast Brazil doesn’t have the four seasons, we were looking forward to seeing the spring buds and flowers.  However, God gave us the additional treat of still getting a taste of winter, as we arrived in the middle of an April blizzard. In fact, our flight was rerouted from Rochester, MN, because the airport was closed due to the storm.  We didn’t mind, since we flew into Des Moines, IA, and we got to see some of our kids and grandkids a few days earlier than had been planned.

It was special to be with Julie’s mother on Mother’s Day, and to worship with our home church family at Grace Baptist, Austin, MN.  In upcoming weeks we plan to visit the following churches which have us as a part of their worldwide outreach:

  • May 27  First Baptist Church, Grundy Center, IA
  • June 10  Brookdale Baptist Church, Moorhead, MN
  • June 17  First Baptist Church, International Falls, MN
  • June 24  Calvary Baptist Church, Rochester, MN

Though we are on a furlough, we still maintain daily contact with our people in Brazil.  The OASiS has received some guests this month; the Grangeiro Church had a special program to strengthen the marriages of its couples; and Jim is involved in several administrative situations for the Mission and for the Seminary of which we won’t bore you with the details.  We just ask that you continue praying that the Gospel will continue to grow in Northeast Brazil through the salvation of the lost and the strengthening of our local churches.

Samuel Milanez and Family

Samuel Milanez and Family

We ask that you pray for Samuel Milanez, the national director of our Source of Light correspondence school.  Samuel has been with this ministry for two years and has stabilized the school, which at one time was at risk of closing. Actually we have two prayer requests:  First, Samuel will be undergoing gall bladder surgery this week, and needs our prayers that there be no complications and for speedy healing.  Secondly, Samuel is needing a car to travel to churches in order to teach them how they can use the Source of Light Bible lessons more effectively.  Samuel could not afford a car himself on the small salary the school is able to pay him, so we hope to help him with this.

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Jonasse, Felismina, and Adão, a student family from Mozambique

Our two student families from Mozambique will be returning home on July 5th, after having spent one year at our Bible College.  Our prayers go with them as they take what they’ve learned back to their people who so desperately need God’s Word.

 

Thank you for your faithful love, prayers and support.  If you would like an updated prayer card , we did have one made this month.  Just drop us an e-mail, or call us.  We’ll get it to you in the mail.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Furlough phones:  Jim: (515) 414-4435  Julie: (515) 402-0359

E-mails: jim.leonard@hotmail.com,  juliemarieleonard@hotmail.com

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Thank you for your prayers!

April 2, 2018

Dear Prayer Partners,

We are SO thankful for your friendship and prayers!  As Paul stated in Philippians 1: 3-4, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (HCSB)  Your prayers have recently gotten us through some of the busiest days of our ministry.  Please continue to pray and rejoice with us in what God is doing in NE Brazil!

Our Baptist Mid-Missions Brazil Family conference was a great time around the Word and enjoying God’s amazing creation in the Amazon rain forest with our colleagues.  The anxiety of having to change venues for the event just days before it began was relieved as the hotel “rolled out the red carpet” for us, even though we were “hand-offs” from another hotel.  Our work, as part of the planning committee was made easy.  We were also able to visit with 3 of our former students who are serving God faithfully in that region.

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Baptist Mid-Missions Family of Brazil missionaries at meeting in the Amazon

We arrived back in Crato just two days before our annual Missions Conference at the Bible College.  We were taxed to our human limits, as we tried to recover from red-eye flights before and after a very full week in the Amazon.  But God… from the evening services to the workshops to the ladies tea to the international canteen, God directed and blessed in every way.  Just hours before our final service, the whole of Northeast Brazil lost electric power.  The preaching went on by flashlight on the seminary amphitheater.  In spite of the dark, attendance was good, and all were blessed.  The power was restored half-way through the service, just as we were whisking Dr. Vernon and Jan Rosenau to the airport so they could catch their flights back to Ohio.  Our students and the area churches were challenged with the question, “Will we tell the next generation?” This is our prayer:  that God will continue to call our students to the mission fields of the World!

Our church plant is no longer “Parque Grangeiro” since our new building is just up the road in the neighboring area known simply as Grangeiro.  Last weekend, on Friday night, Jim challenged the couples to be united in the area of finances.  Saturday evening we had the official installation of Pr. Francisco Carlos and the dedication of our new building. On Sunday morning we celebrated Christ’s Resurrection with breakfast and a special Easter program, and in the evening we had cake to celebrate the 10 years since we began Sunday services with this church plant.  We are looking forward to reaching into the new community in which God has placed us.  Though this is a small church, we have launched two families to the mission fields of the Gambia and Venezuela, one young woman to be a pastor’s wife, and another who followed her husband to a sister church in the area.  Yet we have several believers who are struggling with obvious attacks by Satan to discourage them in their faith and service to God. We need your prayers!

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Dedication of Pastor Francisco Carlos at Grangeiro Baptist Church

 

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Men at the Grangeiro Baptist Church

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Julie and Kids in the Easter program

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“TO GOD BE THE GLORY” Birthday cake for church

We have tickets to come to the USA on April 13th.  We hope to spend the rest of April and May mainly in the Iowa/Illinois area, then June and July in Minnesota.  We will be visiting some of our supporters which we haven’t visited for nearly five years.  We’re excited for the opportunity to be the missionaries at Bass Lake Camp, where Julie grew as a child/teen and where we both served as college students.  Of course, we’re looking forward to being with Mom Hansen and Julie’s siblings, and also with Josiah, Nikki and our 5 sweet grandkids.  Jennifer is planning to enter the Navy this spring; we hope to be there for her “graduation” from basic training.

Jim just returned from 2 days in Fortaleza, closing up his responsibilities as the BMM of Brazil treasurer.   He is doubling up on his teaching in order to finish his mission’s class before we travel.  He still has several meetings in the upcoming days to see that the Bible College “fixes” happen while we are gone.  Please continue to pray for our college in the areas of leadership, faculty, finances and maintenance.

We are Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil.

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