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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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Brethren, pray for us!

August 19, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  We make 1 Thes. 5:25 our words:  “Brethren, pray for us”.

We arrived in Brazil on August 7th after a few weeks visiting family in the Midwest.  Trying to “make-up” for lost time with the grandkids is impossible, but we are thankful for the wonderful, fun times we had.  It’s always hard to leave, but it puts perspective into what Julie’s parents experienced when our kids were growing up.  Please continue to pray for Dad and Mom Hansen.  Dad has leukemia but treatment has been suspended for lack of positive results and because of the negative side-effects.  He is feeling OK but is very weak.  Please pray for the family as decisions are made about Dad’s care.  Julie may go back to help for a short period.  His goal is to be at home and to make every day special.

While in the States, we were able to attend the BMM Annual Conference in Cleveland.  It was a precious time of seeing co-workers who serve in other parts of the world.  Julie was thrilled to see two missionaries for whom she prayed as a little girl.  We appreciate all that the BMM Office staff does for us.  It was thirty-one years ago that we were accepted with BMM and attended Candidate Classes.

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With our Baptist Mid-Missions family of missionaries, in the “inner circle” of prayer.

As we left behind family, friends and our home church, we returned to family, friends and our church plant!  Our first week back was filled with visits from our “kids”, former students who serve as pastors and missionaries; we saw missionary colleagues and celebrated the Brazilian Father’s Day with the Parque Grangeiro church.  Jim joined a group of men from the church to install and paint the inside doors at the new church building.  They are now working on the outside landscaping.  We hope to have the inauguration of this church building next month, along with the formal installation of Francisco Carlos as the pastor.  Pray for the various people we are discipling.

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Fathers and their children celebrating Father’s Day at the Parque Grangeiro

This past week we began the semester of teaching at the Cariri Baptist Bible College.  Julie is teaching a woman’s class about ministering in and through the home, and another class on how the church should celebrate holidays.  Jim is teaching a preaching class and another on cults and world religions.  We continue to advise the student mission fellowship and travel once each month with a group to promote missions.  Next week we will drive south for a missions conference at the church in Casa Nova.  Please pray for this ministry, for travel safety, that the churches will be strengthened and that the students will learn through serving.

We have enjoyed meeting our two student families from Mozambique.  They have been well received and hosted, each by one of our local churches, and are already actively involved with these church families.  Pray that their year of studies in Brazil will give them the tools to be a blessing to the countless pastors in Mozambique who have very little training in God’s Word.

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Jim with pastor Erwin and missionary Fernando, from Venezuela

In October Jim plans to travel to Venezuela with a team from our Brazilian churches. The purpose of this trip is to put on a missions retreat for the churches up there.  Several Venezuelan pastors have told us of the lack of missions among their churches and they would like to begin developing a missions program.  Pray for the political stability in Venezuela, and for our effective ministry while there.

 

We close this letter, once again asking you to “pray for us.” We consider you our partners in this missionary work.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,                                                  

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Summer Prayers

June 22, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  Summer is a great time to take a break from school and work in order to spend with friends and family.  But we trust you will still have time to pray for your missionaries and some special needs that we have.

Last week our churches in the Cariri Valley worked together on an evangelistic campaign called Proclamar! [Proclaim!].  Over 350 believers put in many hours of work to make this effort happen.  Among these were the twelve students from Jim’s Evangelism class at the Cariri Baptist Seminary, who worked on the street evangelism team.  Though we don’t have a final count, at least 15 adults and 35 children were counseled for salvation decisions and now the churches are doing follow up.

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PROCLAMAR! Evangelistic meetings in the Cariri.

We have been praying for our students from Mozambique to receive the necessary travel documents to come to Brazil.  The visas were granted two weeks ago, and the two families should be flying from Africa to Brazil on July 5th.  Please pray that this study program will prepare them to be a blessing in the training of other pastors in Mozambique.  We are still in need of some support to cover their travel, living and study expenses for the year.  Thank you for your prayers as they travel, adapt, and begin their studies.

 

 

On June 13, we arrived in the Midwest to spend a few weeks with our family during some important moments.  Two days later, Isabelle Faith Leonard was born to Josiah and Nikki, joining two brothers and two sisters.  “Papa” and “Nana” stayed at home with the older four while Mom and Dad were in the hospital.  We are enjoying the special time spent with our grandchildren.

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

This week we visited Julie’s father in southern Minnesota, who is in a nursing home for rehab as he undergoes treatments for a serious medical condition.  Please continue praying for his strength and healing, and for the challenges they will have when he returns home.

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Visiting with Great-Grandpa Hansen

Last Thursday Jim’s brother, John, was taken to the hospital in São Paulo for bleeding in his lungs.  By Monday, as they were not able to get the bleeding stopped, the doctors decided to remove the lower part of his left lung.  He is now recovering from surgery, but is still in critical condition, as infection has set in.  Please uphold John and Bev in your prayers.

We are grateful to God for you, our support team, who faithfully pray for us and the ministries in Northeast Brazil.  As missionary Paul says it, in Philippians 1:3,5 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,… because of your partnership in the gospel….”  Thank you!

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Phone: (515) 257-2766

Emails:  jim.leonard@hotmail.com       juliemarieleonard@hotmail.com   

 

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Opportunities

May 22, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  Galatians 6:10 reminds us that, “as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”  Our lives on the mission field have offered us many opportunities to do good; of course the greatest good we believers can do is to introduce people to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Last month Jim’s evangelism students from the college held evangelistic meetings in the streets of Parque Grangeiro, and also took the gospel to a public school near our college campus.  Most of our students, who are men, had very little experience working with children, but they thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity, and the doors were left open to return to that school whenever we wish.

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Hudson teaching 8-9 year olds

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Joaquim with Kindergarten kids

In two weeks these same students will be participating in an evangelistic campaign promoted by our churches in the Cariri Valley.  Over 250 believers from our churches will be joining efforts for a three-day campaign called Proclamar! (Proclaim!).  Besides evening evangelistic meetings, we will have evangelists in the streets, counseling stations, prayer groups, and free personal services such haircuts, medical consultations, and legal advice.  Please pray for the salvation of souls through the efforts of the Proclamar!

Last weekend our missionaries had the opportunity to promote a retreat for area pastors and wives, with the purpose of strengthening their relationship to God and to one another.  In recent years we have lost several pastors because of breakdowns in their marriages.  Please pray for our national pastors and their wives.

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Cariri area pastors and wives’ retreat

A few weeks ago our church in the Parque Grangeiro met in its new building, just to give the church family a taste of what they have to look forward to when we move, and also for the believers to see what all has to be done before we move in.  Two of the members were chosen to be the church treasurers, and Jim was able to train for the job.  Julie also trained four of the church ladies to be in charge of special events and programs at the church.  Please pray for the growth and maturity of the church in Parque Grangeiro.

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Parque Grangeiro Baptist Church meeting in new building

The two families from Mozambique who plan to come study at our Bible College still have not received their travel documents.  A few days ago the Brazilian Embassy wrote us requesting a few more documents, but stating that we will not have to begin a new process for the visa requests.  We really would like to bless the people of Mozambique by helping to train some of their men for ministry.

This weekend we are planning a four day road trip to Fortaleza, mostly to care for mission business, again, since Jim is the Brazil field treasurer.  This time we will be blessed with the opportunity to receive the treasurer of Baptist Mid-Missions, and introduce him to our field of service as well as to our accounting processes in Brazil.  Please pray for our safety as we travel.

We have a couple prayer requests for our family:  Julie’s father, Everett Hansen, is going through a serious medical condition and treatments which are causing him a good deal of suffering.  Please pray for his strength and healing.  Also, our son and daughter-in-law, Josiah and Nikki, will be welcoming their fifth child in June.  Please pray for a safe delivery.  We will have the opportunity to visit the USA this summer to be with both Julie’s parents and with Josiah and Nikki.

We thank God for you, our support team, who have been faithful with the opportunities to care for your missionaries.  This paraphrase of Philippians 4:10 reflects our gratitude for you: “We rejoice in the Lord for your constant care for us. Though you don’t always have the opportunity to show it, you are concerned for us.”  Thank you!

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Showers of Blessings

April 04, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Papa and Kristi doing beans (Large)

Papa and Kristi shelling green beans from the garden

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  As the Northeast corner of Brazil experiences the best rainy season in eight years, we are enjoying fresh produce from our garden.  Psalm 147:8 reminds us that it is God who “makes it to rain on the earth and causes grass to grow…”  The previous verse shows us what our response should be: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.”  Even better than rains, God has showered us with spiritual blessings in the past weeks.

Last month we rejoiced in the profession of faith of João, a tractor and truck driver who has worked with Jim on various construction projects.  We also saw Deja publicly declare her faith in Jesus.  Deja’s daughter was saved at our church in Parque Grangeiro and is now the wife of a young pastor, recently graduated from our college.  Both of these responded to God’s gracious salvation after many years of hearing the gospel.  This week is Evangelistic Week at the Parque Grangeiro.  Each night we hold an evangelistic service somewhere in the community.  We had more invitations for meetings than we had nights in the week, so we have a list of homes who want a service in the street in front of their homes in the upcoming weeks.  Jim’s Evangelism class from the college is participating in these meetings.  Pray for the salvation of souls.

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Some of Jim’s Evangelism students at the Cariri Baptist Seminary

The Parque Grangeiro church has now officially received Francisco Carlos as pastor, following his graduation from our college in December.  Francisco Carlos has begun well, by dividing up ministry responsibilities among the believers and training each one for specific ministries.  We have seen encouraging growth in the believers’ passion to serve God through this young church.  We have not yet moved into the church building, as we still lack some basic things, such as chairs and doors on the classrooms.  Pray for God’s provision of the few things that are lacking.

 

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Jorge from Cape Verde

This week our student from Cape Verde, Jorge, arrived to begin his studies next semester.  We are thanking God for allowing us to prepare laborers for harvest fields beyond Brazil’s borders.  We are still waiting and praying for the two families from Mozambique who have not yet received their visas to travel to Brazil.  We are hoping that they can arrive in late May, which would allow them two months to adjust to life in Brazil before the next semester begins.  Our Brazilian believers have furnished two houses for these families for the year they will be studying at our college.  Please pray that the needs of these two families will be met as they leave their country, culture and ministries in order to prepare to better serve God.

This weekend we are planning a four day road trip to Fortaleza, mostly to care for mission business, since Jim is the Brazil Field treasurer.  While in Fortaleza we plan to encourage a pastor and his wife who are very near to us.  Rosangela is undergoing radiation treatments for cancer.  Please pray for her recovery.  The month of April will find us enjoying several reunions with different family members who will be visiting the Cariri.  Among those visiting are Joy Anna and her family, and Jennifer.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support as we continue preaching the gospel and making disciples in this corner of Brazil.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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Praise Will Come From God

February 16, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Today in our devotions we were encouraged by 1 Corinthians 4:5:  “And then praise will come to each one from God.” This comes after Paul’s exhortation to be faithful managers of God’s message and to be motivated by God’s evaluation of our heart’s intentions and not man’s judgments of our ministry.  With Valentine’s Day in the recent past, our desire is that His love and praise be our highest motive for service!

It’s good to be home after two weeks of refreshing fellowship with missionary colleagues and encouraging messages from God’s Word during our NE Region and All-Brazil Field Conferences.  It’s exciting to see how God is working in this huge country, yet we are still challenged with so many places that need a gospel witness, congregations that need pastors and churches that need buildings.  Please pray for more workers in this harvest field.  Jim continues serving as Brazil Field treasurer and on several other committees.

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Baptist Mid-Missions Missionaries in NE Brazil and friends at 2017 conference 

The Parque Grangeiro church plant is still preparing its new building to move in as soon as possible.  God has supplied some of the supplies but the days are few when the men of the church can get together for a work day.  The lack of resources to finish up quickly is a bit discouraging.  The church has decided to not start up the Sunday afternoon Kid’s Club until it is in the new building so that the transition wouldn’t happen in the middle of the semester.  Visits are being made in the new neighborhood and preparations made to begin as soon as the building is ready.  Please pray that hearts would be prepared, as well as the physical building, as the congregation changes locations.

The Cariri Baptist Seminary has begun its 71st year of classes.  Jim is teaching Evangelism and Missions, classes which he feels are the heartbeat of the ministry.  Pray for him as he has made some purposeful changes in his class notes and methods of teaching.  Julie is taking a sabbatical from the classroom this semester to work on her book, “Magnifying Christ in Special Events”.  We have a cleaning lady help twice each week, so that Julie can concentrate on writing, but the lady is looking for a full-time job.  Please pray for wisdom, clarity of mind, quality study time and open doors as we serve Him through teaching.

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New students being introduced to the Cariri Baptist Seminary

Our prospective students from Mozambique have not yet received their visas.  We are praying that it will work out for them to begin second semester (August).  Once their visas are granted they have 90 days before they have to travel.  Various churches and groups are gathering household items and raising support for these two families during their year of study.  Please continue to pray that all of their needs will be met as they make this sacrifice to leave their country, culture and ministries in order to prepare to serve Him better.

We feel privileged to be counselors, encouragers, and prayer warriors for a large group of former students and ministry colleagues.  Every day we have visitors stop by and often are asked to help resolve difficult situations.  The OASiS is buzzing with activity as we have had most of the apartments filled during the vacation period.  That means dealing with maintenance issues and even some construction, including the ten married student houses that Jim manages for Mom Leonard.

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Four generations of Leonards: Jim, Frances, Julie, Joy Anna, Hannah, Fabio, and Kristina

We were able to spend a few precious days with Joy Anna, Fabio, Kristi and Hannah in João Pessoa during our NE Region Conference.  We have had some wonderful Skype chats with Josiah, Nikki and our four sweet grandkids in Iowa.  We talk with Jennifer a few times each week and rejoice that God has provided her with a full-time CNA position in assisted living apartments on the day shift.  We’ve been trying to keep in close touch with Julie’s family as they are dealing with some heath issues.  Your prayers mean so much to us, as we serve God on this field.

 

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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