God’s Appointments

January 8, 2017

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the  name of our Lord!  As we turn the calendar from one year to the next, we are reminded of our great God who “appoints the moon for seasons: the sun knows his going down” (Psalm 104:19).  This same God appoints for us opportunities to preach His gospel and make disciples.

2016-graduates

2016 Graduates and their Families

Looking back to December of 2016, we graduated 33 students, the largest class in our college’s history.  Most of these have already been placed in local church ministries.  During the year Julie taught Women’s Ministries, Magnifying Christ Through Special Events, Raising Godly Children, and Culinary Arts.  Jim taught Personal Evangelism, Introduction to Missions, Preaching, and Cults and Non-Christian Religions.  We also served as counselors to the on-campus student missions fellowship.

Jim took two survey trips in 2016: one to Piauí, the state to our west in Brazil; the other to Guyana, a small nation on Brazil’s Northwest border.  Piauí is the least evangelized state in Brazil, with hundreds of unreached towns, villages and communities.  Guyana, though in South America, seems more like India.  The people speak English, and are mostly Hindu and Muslim.  We will be challenging our churches in Brazil with the huge needs of these two fields.  Our prayer is that God would send Brazilian missionaries to preach the gospel and make disciples in Piauí and in Guyana.  Of course, He could also send missionaries from the United States, so please pray with us for more laborers.

Samuel and Alice

In 2016 the Source of Light Correspondence School functioned under the leadership of Samuel Milanez, one of our graduates.  After serving as a pastor for a few years, Samuel felt God leading him to take over this ministry.  Samuel has some creative ideas to take this school into the future, and is currently raising support to maintain himself and the school.  His wife, Alice, will be beginning her studies at our college next semester.

Naya and Islânio

 

 

Our church plant in Parque Grangeiro ended 2016 with a New Year’s Eve service in our new building.  On Christmas day we rejoiced with the baptism of a young couple, Islânio and Naya, who have attended for years, even before they were married.  The believers are eager to make the permanent move into the building, but for this to happen we are waiting on God’s provision for some necessary finishing details and chairs.  Please pray for this need.

In 2016 God also allowed us to build our home next to the OASiS.  After living in eight different houses over the past eight years, we now have a place to call home.  We understand the meaning of being pilgrims on this earth.  We moved in December and are still getting settled. Just before Christmas, Joy Anna, Fabio and girls popped in for a surprise visit.  Though they only stayed overnight, it was fun having them as the first guests in our new home.

house

Our new home in Crato, Brazil

Our first guests: Fabio and Joy Anna, Kristi, and Hannah

In addition to the opportunities we’ve described, there have been countless opportunities to counsel, speak in conferences, and serve our colleagues with Baptist Mid-Missions in Brazil as Field treasurer.

Looking ahead to 2017, we plan to continue with many of the same ministries: teaching at the seminary, conference speaking, counseling, and construction projects.  Julie will take the first semester off from teaching to focus more on writing and strengthening relationships with former students who are in the ministry.  We plan to bring two families from Mozambique to study at our college for one year. At the end of the year they should return to Mozambique to share what they have learned with their fellow Mozambicans.  Pray that they will be granted student visas.  We are still waiting on God to complete the needed support to make this project a reality.  At the OASiS, we have several guests scheduled during the year, including Fabio and Joy Anna Volpi, who are on furlough visiting supporting churches in NE Brazil.

Thank you for your love, prayers, and support as we serve God in NE Brazil.  If you feel like taking a break in a very warm place this winter, come for a visit; we have plenty of places to hang a hammock for you.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Phone: (515) 257-2766

Please note our new mailing address:  Jim & Julie Leonard  /  Rua Aminadab Arruda Campos, 255  /  63132-024  Crato, CE  /  Brazil – S.A.

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Prayer and Praise

November 9, 2016

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  Because this letter is a bit longer than usual, we will divide it into two parts.  In the first part you will find two exciting ministry opportunities for which we covet your prayers.  In the second part we share a couple of praises related to our family and home.

MINISTRY PRAYER NEEDS

On our last furlough we asked you to pray for the thousands of communities in the interior of Northeast Brazil with little or no Gospel witness.  In the Cariri Valley, our immediate region, God has raised up many strong and growing churches.  A recent count revealed forty churches and church plants in the Cariri.  But as we look to the east, west, north, and south, there is still a huge need for missionary work.  There are a few church plants in Pernambuco, the state to our south, and in Paraiba, the state to our east.  Last month we were contacted by some believers who have been transferred with their jobs to Teresina, the capital of Piauí, the state to our west.  They confirmed that there are very few Bible preaching churches in the entire state and invited us to come help organize a church.  This weekend Jim and Daniel Ruley, a co-worker, will be making the nine hour drive to Teresina.  Please pray that God would direct them to the right contacts, and open our eyes to see the “fields that our white unto harvest.”  And also pray with us that “God would send more laborers into His harvest fields.”

 

Pastor Jonasse

Pastor Jonasse

A few months ago we asked you to pray for a ministry opportunity in Mozambique, a Portuguese speaking nation of East Africa.  For the past couple of years several of our Brazilian pastors have made trips to Northern Mozambique to train a group of pastors in that nation.  Many of these men didn’t even have a complete Bible, yet alone a pastoral library.  Last month thirty pastors in Mozambique completed this very basic Bible Institute offered to them by our Brazilian pastors.  These men labor in a part of Mozambique that is predominantly Muslim and very poor.  In order to take the work in Mozambique to the next level, there is a need for a few men from there with some formal Bible College training.  For this reason we have offered a one year scholarship to two couples from Mozambique to come study at our college.  Eliseu and his wife Pierina have worked closely

Eliseu and Pierina, with son, Esdras

Eliseu and Pierina, with son, Esdras

with our missionary in Beira, a large city in Northern Mozambique, and would eventually take the leadership of a thriving children’s ministry in that city.  And Jonasse is a sharp young pastor from Beira who is well respected.  He would continue helping with the training of other pastors in Northern Mozambique.  For the time being, all three of these would come for our one year Basic Bible course.  This is very little, but significantly more than what any of the church leaders in that part of the world have.  We are asking God to provide for these two families the funds for documents, air travel, and living expenses while they are with us at the Cariri Baptist Seminary.  If God should lead you to help with this project, please contact us and we will let you know how to direct your contribution through Baptist Mid-Missions.

HOME and FAMILY

One-day old baby Hannah with family

One-day old baby Hannah with family

We are happy to announce the arrival of our 6th grandchild, Hannah Joy Leonard Volpi.  She was born in the wee hours of the morning on October 29th.  Julie had arrived to help Hannah’s family on the 24th and returned home on November 8th.  She was thankful that she got to spend some time with Joy Anna before and after Hannah arrived.  Please pray for Joy Anna, Fabio, Kristi and little Hannah.  They will embark on a 8-9 month furlough and support-raising trip that will take them more than 2,500 miles ONE WAY, from South Brazil to the Northeast.  They plan to leave in December or January, depending on Fabio’s mother’s health, as she is needing to have a surgery.  While they are in the Northeast, they will make the OASiS their “home base”.  We’re looking forward to some time with them.  Julie missed two weeks of classes, and we’re getting close to the end of the year.  Please pray that she will be able to make up and then keep up with the remaining activities for the year.  Graduation will be on December 10th, with about 30 graduating.

Another praise is that God has sent the ideal person to help with the house cleaning!  Francinalva is a hard worker and leaves things spotless, even when there’s a lot of construction dust all over everything.  She and her husband are moving to Crato from an interior town in the state to the south of us, and both of them are looking for work.  They would like their 15 and 9 year old sons to study in the Cariri Valley.  They have both heard the Gospel and they came to our church a few weeks ago at our invitation.  They were introduced to us by a good friend of theirs who is working on our house construction.  We’d love to see a chain reaction for many to come to know Christ as their Savior through them!

May God bless you for your faithful service to Him, which includes praying for those of us who are on the mission fields of the world.

Your Servants for Christ in Northeast Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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God’s Word

September 18, 2016

Dear Prayer Partners,

“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and is sharper than any two-edged sword, … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Hb 4: 12.  How thankful we are, that in a day of slanted media reports, misinterpreted quotes and all sorts of other miscommunications, our God and His Word is effective and true.  Even more so, we are grateful that the Holy Spirit helps us to apply those truths to change our lives and the lives of others.

We were reminded of these truths as we helped examine 24 graduating students in the oral defense of their Biblical beliefs.  It was a long 2 weeks with 3-hour exams each day, but they did well.  Please pray for these graduates, some of whom have not yet confirmed a place of ministry.  After the stress of the doctrinal exams, the seminary family enjoyed a refreshing retreat up in the mountains near our town.  It was encouraging to hear the testimonies of the graduates and what God has taught them.  It was a blessing to realize that we have had a part in preparing them to live and teach God’s Word.   All of us would appreciate your prayers as the weather gets hotter each day.  It’s hard for both teachers and students to concentrate on class preparation, assignments, and the class itself.  Pray for us all as we teach and learn the precious truths of God’s Word!

2016-grads

Some of our 2016 graduates

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Francisco Carlos

Francisco Carlos, our student leader at the Parque Grangeiro church, is among these graduates.  Because of the demands of his studies this year he has had little time to invest in the church.  Please pray that as he finishes his formal course of studies he would devote more time to the leadership of this young church.  Jim is working with him on developing a philosophy of ministry for 2017.  Please pray that the Word of God will not return without eternal results, specifically in the neighborhood of our new church building, into which we plan to move yet this year.

luis-meneses2

Luis and Janet Meneses with daughters Rachel and Debora

On September 7th, Brazil’s Independence Day, we laid to rest one of our co-workers, Luis Meneses. Luis was a Brazilian co-worker with Baptist Mid-Missions, who faithfully served for over 40 years  in church planting, a Bible Bookstore and camp ministries.  God used Luis in the lives of many, even though he preferred to be behind the scenes.  He was faithful in sharing the power of salvation through the preaching of the Word.  Please pray for his wife, Janet, and their 2 daughters and their families.  Luis will be greatly missed!

We continue to pray for the Source of Light Correspondence School.  God has brought Samuel Milanez, a seminary grad, to take the leadership of this ministry.  He is raising support among the area churches, as the school only has the finances to support him through December.  Please pray that the national church will be able to take on his support.  God’s powerful Word has been shared with thousands through SOL lessons and lives have been changed.  Pray that the distribution of these lessons won’t have to stop!

We’re excited for the speaking opportunities that God has given to both of us.  Besides our regular classes, Jim is preparing for 2 conferences in October.  Julie has a bridal shower and a ladies meeting scheduled.  As we share God’s Word, pray that people will be challenged to live out that Word in their everyday lives.

We are praying for several supporting churches in America who are without a pastor.  The number is unusually high and some have been in that situation for a few years already.  We’re also praying that the Church will stand strong on political issues that will determine the course of our nation. We are confident that God is in control, but there are many areas of concern, both in the USA and Brazil.  May we be ever faithful in sharing His Word!

On the home front, the construction of our house is nearing completion.  We hope to move in November.  It’s fun to see the daily progress on the finishing work.  Our daughter, Joy Anna, is going into her last month of pregnancy.  Julie will head to south Brazil in mid-October to help care for grand-daughter Kristi and the housework.  Pray that she will be a blessing to Joy Anna and Fabio during this important time.

Thank you for your love, prayers and support as we share God’s Word in NE Brazil.

Jim & Julie Leonard

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This world is NOT my home!

This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through…

So, will we spend the rest of our lives in Brazil?  I think some of the following facts have prompted that question…

– we’re now closer to 55 than 50,

– we’re no longer the “green-horns” but are considered veteran missionaries (we just completed 30 years with Baptist Mid-Missions),

– we are “empty nesters”,

– we have 4 precious grandkids in the USA (and we love their parents, too!),

– our youngest (whom we love very much) also lives in the USA,

– Julie’s parents aren’t getting any younger,

– some of our supporting churches are having a hard time finding a pastor, including our home church.

 

On the other hand…

– there are fewer and fewer missionaries on the field to whom we can ask advice or counsel, or that can take care of mission business (…are we it?),

– we have 1 adorable granddaughter who lives in south Brazil and another one will soon join the family (and we love their parents, too!),

– we both teach various classes at the Carirí Baptist Seminary and count ourselves privileged to have a part in training the future Baptist church leaders of Brazil and missionaries who serve in various countries of the world,

– Jim’s mom lives nearby and she’s not getting any younger,

– our latest ministry endeavor is the OASIS, a restful place where Brazilian missionaries can stay when they return to Brazil on furlough,

– we’re currently building our (2nd) dream house at the OASIS.

Roof Line (1) (Large)

Dream house #2

Either way…

– sometimes we’re so busy we usually don’t know which end is up.  (Jim thrives on that, I just try to keep up.)

 

Wow.  It sounds a bit crazy, but that’s us at the moment.  More experienced, wiser, grayer, older?  When I look back at the past 12 years, it’s been a wild ride that I wouldn’t change for the world.  Some of the crazy curve-balls the Lord threw at us weren’t always pleasant, but I wouldn’t change the learning curves for anything.  Those curves have brought us to where we are today.

 

Let me share some of the quick details about some of those curves.

 

Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma.  To make a REALLY long story short, I had a very successful surgery to remove it.  The results:  total deafness in my left ear but still smiling, with no facial paralysis.  Oh, and I was left with only one balance system.  That’s been a bit tricky at times, but God has kept me on my feet (literally) through a lot of stressful situations.  The best thing?  I came out of that experience more spiritually balanced than ever.  God taught me how to really, truly trust Him.  What a precious lesson and a much needed one for the approaching curves…

 

A few months after my surgery, our first-born (Josiah) left for college.  Multiple curves.  I don’t think I  need to go into any more details.

 

The next year, our middle child (Joy Anna) left for college.  I think you understand…

 

The next year, our first dream house almost became a nightmare.  It was way, way too big

DSC01770 (Large)

Dream house #1

without two of our kids.  On top of that, God drastically turned the Dollar/Brazilian Real exchange rate so that we lost 50% of our buying power almost overnight.  Then it became too much to maintain.  But we never lacked and He always provided, which in that case meant giving us a buyer.  God sold that dream house for us.  The money went into a savings account and we became “homeless”.

 

I’ll use that term very loosely, for we never lacked and God always provided . . . seemingly countless times.  Here’s a quick run-down.  🙂

 

1)  A year was spent as house-sitters for missionary colleagues who were on furlough.

2)  A year was spent in Faith (Baptist Bible College) apartments while we were on furlough.

3)  Two months were spent in another colleague’s guest bedroom when we returned from furlough.

4)  Six months were spent house-sitting for other colleagues while they were on furlough.

5)  Two years were spent living in an adapted dorm on the Carirí Bible college campus.

6)  Five months were spent in a gorgeous farmhouse that my Dad remodeled.  We were privileged to be the first to live there while we were on a short furlough.

7)  Eighteen months were spent in married student housing near the Carirí Bible college campus.

8)  Two years have passed since we moved into one of the house/apartments at the OASIS, originally meant for other missionaries, not us.  😉

9)  Six months of those last two years were spent in an apartment in Austin, MN, (and on the road) while we were on a short furlough last year.

 

So why is all of this important?  No, we’ve never been truly “homeless” and certainly never without places of ministry.  God has been ever faithful to provide SO many places to stay and serve.  But the lesson and the truth of being a pilgrim has been well ingrained and duly learned after living in so many different places.  This world is not our home, we’re just a passin’ through.  Believe me, those words have a whole new meaning because of the past ten years.  If He hadn’t sold our first dream house in 2007, I would probably still be chasing after the wrong things.

 

We really get attached to things in this terrestrial life.  Houses.  Family.  Friends.  Ministry.  Jobs.    Cars.  Pets.  Places.  Stuff.  None of it will go with us, except those souls that we can lead to Christ through our testimony and example.  True pilgrims don’t count the things of this world to be dear because they won’t last.  Investing in people will.

 

I’m still learning all of the facets of being a pilgrim.  But I can confidently say that God brought us to NE Brazil.  Then He took us from church-planting on the east coast to bring us to the desert oasis of the Carirí to serve at the Bible college.  And while we’re still serving at the Bible college, we’re serving in different positions than when He originally led us here.  He can change that again or take us to another place in Brazil, to any other country in the world, or even back to the place from which we were sent:  Austin, MN.  That’s up to Him.  It’s up to us to trust and obey when He leads.

 

So, no, we’re not planning on going anywhere until He leads.  But if and when He does, the house (and all the stuff!) will stay where it is with no regrets.  Believe me, that’s not exactly how I felt ten years ago when I had to leave my first dream house with glass windows and screens, hot running water in the kitchen and baths, a real dishwasher (beside the kids), plenty of space to decorate, and lots of space to entertain and receive guests!   Our new home will have a few of the same amenities but the way that I look at them is so different.  Yes, our prayer is that our home will continue to be used for His glory to encourage others who have made sacrifices to “go”.  But now I have a much better understanding of what true contentment is:  to focus on Christ, His purpose and plan.  The curves have become much easier to manage when God is in the driver’s seat because HE knows what’s around the bend.    

 

The move ten years ago was the beginning of a lesson in the life of a pilgrim.  Sacrifice, yes.  Giving things up, yes.  Letting things go, yes.  Learning what really matters, yes.  Investing in the eternal, yes.  Most importantly, the example and instruction that has been passed on to others will have hopefully landed on listening ears and teachable hearts.  Not to our acclaim, but for the glory of the Lord  and His eternal kingdom.  ‘Cause I’m just a pilgrim.  And I’m just a passin’ through.

 

P.S.  The well-know hymn, Anywhere with Jesus, has been running tough my mind lately.  It was sung (in Portuguese) on August 9th, at the commissioning service of one of our former students, Criselite Siebra.  Cris is headed for Bolivia as a missionary in a few months but had to say good-bye to her family on Wednesday evening.  (If you want to peek in on the moment, check out the video post on my FB page.)  It was humbling to hug her mom and try to encourage her as she struggled to say good-bye to her beloved daughter.  I shared with her that my life as a pilgrim would never have begun had my Mom and Dad not been willing to let go.

They gave up a daughter,  a son-in-law, and the privilege of having three of their grandkids close to them during the formative years.   There are some sacrifices that are made daily, on the part of many, not just the ones He calls to go.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being willing to parent a pilgrim!  Thanks for understanding, Josiah, Nikki, Jeremy, Lydia, Tabitha, and Jordan; Fabio, Joy Anna, Kristi, and Baby V.;  Jennifer; our siblings and their families; our sending church family.  Part of our hearts long to be with you every day and to live a “normal” life.  But normal needs to be measured by the standard of God’s will.  Going anywhere with Jesus is one of the possibilities, and it does have great rewards in spite of the sacrifices.  Thanks again for being willing to make that sacrifice.  Because we’re all pilgrims, just a passin’ through.

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“My Grace is Sufficient”

August 12, 2016

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness,” were the comforting words spoken by Jesus to the missionary Paul in 2 Cor. 12:9.  What wonderful words of comfort from an Almighty God!  We have been running “full-steam ahead” for such a long time, a summary would be hard to fit on one page.  Our ministries aren’t slowing down at all, so as you rejoice in the strength He has given us, please continue to pray for His grace in our upcoming ministry opportunities.

We had an awesome ten days with the Grace to Brazil Team from our home church in Austin, MN.  We ministered in several churches, did some street evangelism, and received over 100 students at the English Retreat.  Many lives were touched.  Please continue to pray that the Holy Spirit keeps working in sensitive hearts through what was taught.  To see a bit of what we did, visit:

Grace to Brazil in Fortaleza

Grace to Brazil 2016, Austin, MN

video   https://vimeo.com/175262892?ref=fb-share&1

article  http://www.austindailyherald.com/2016/07/local-church-takes-trip-to-brazil-to-share-gospel/

 

Seth, Deanna, Jamie, Joshua

Seth, Deanna, Jamie, and Joshua

Two days after the Austin group returned home, Seth and Deanna Peterson from Silver Lake, WI, and Josh and Jamie Huang (siblings) from Mason City, IA, arrived.  They all participated in the Music Week at the Seminary.  Jim translated for Seth’s workshops on Music Ministry and we attended some awesome concerts and worship services.  Deanna’s vocal workshops, Jamie’s help in the children’s classes and Josh’s violin playing and photography were a blessing, in spite of the language limitations.  The Petersons returned home and the Huangs will be here until September 1st.   It is great to see God’s sufficient grace played out in the lives of others as they serve Him!

Jim is busy preparing for various conferences during the next few weeks.  Actually, this weekend he’ll preach for a Missions emphasis at our church plant in Parque Grangeiro.  Next weekend will find us at our state camp with the church family from Farias Brito for their annual retreat.  In early September we’ll head to Fortaleza for a couple’s retreat with the Manancial Baptist Church and then back to the coast for a conference with the Luz do Mundo church at the end of the month.

Roof Line (3) (Large)As we see our house come together, we know it’s an act of God’s grace.  It takes a lot of Jim’s time, but he loves his construction hobby!  Our “down” days in July were spent at construction stores.  The walls are all up and the inside finishing began today.  This is the most time-consuming phase.  Please pray for safety as the men work on the roof in the coming weeks.  The Lord, in His grace, has given us some very competent, conscientious workers – not easy to find!  We hope to move before the end of the year, as in January, 2017, we’ll be hosting some very special missionaries in the house where we are currently living in at the OASIS.

In the midst of the construction business, we were forced to stop and prepare our class notes for the upcoming semester.  Jim will be teaching Cults and Non-Christian Religions for the first time, and also a preaching class.  Julie will be teaching “Magnifying Christ Through Special Events” to nearly 30 graduating students and her Women’s Ministry class to just 3 or 4 single gals.  Please pray that the Lord’s strength will be magnified in our weaknesses to proclaim His perfect grace to our students.

Towards the end o October, Julie will have to miss a few weeks of  her classes as she heads south to help take care of grandaughter, Kristi, while Joy Anna and Fabio welcome another little girl into the family.  “Nana” Julie is praying for God’s strength to keep up with our little “firecracker”!

Doug and Renate

Doug & Renate

We have been praying fervently for co-workers Doug and Renate Reiner, who have been close friends and co-workers over the years.  Doug is also an MK and childhood friend of Jim’s.  Doug and Renate left Brazil in April  to work in BMM’s Office.  Almost immediately upon their arrival in the USA, Doug was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.  He has responded well to treatments for the pancreatic cancer but a recent scan showed the cancer in the liver has spread even more.   Medically, the prognosis is not good.  We are praying for a miracle.  We are praying that God’s grace will be sufficient for both Doug and Renate during these difficult days.  Will you please pray with us?

Luis and Janet

Luis & Janet

We also ask you to pray for Luis and Janet Meneses, missionary colleagues who work near us in Crato.  Luis has been in the hospital for nearly a month with complications from a plugged bio-duct in the liver, which has resulted in a generalized infection.  He needs specialized treatment in our state capital, Fortaleza, but he is too weak for the overland trip.  Besides, there are no available beds in the hospital in Fortaleza.  So pray that God would supply an air transport service and a vacancy in the hospital in Fortaleza.

Thank you all for your love and prayers for us as we serve in NE Brazil, by God’s grace.

Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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The Gospel of Grace

June 13, 2016

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  We make the words of “Missionary” Paul in Acts 20:24, our hearts desire, that we be faithful to the ministry which we have “received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Last weekend the women’s societies from our churches in the Cariri Valley promoted a special program to honor our pastors.  Of the 29 churches represented, there were 40 pastors present.  It is because of God’s grace that the gospel has grown in this region.  Most of these pastors are graduates of our Bible College.

Proclamar

PROCLAMAR! Evangelistic Conference

The previous weekend the churches put on a regional evangelistic crusade in which over 300 members from the different churches served on various committees.  During the three days, evangelism teams worked in the streets, on the sidewalks, and performed social services in an effort to share the gospel of God’s grace to as many as they could.  At night, for the evangelistic meetings, over four thousand people attended; many of these were believers

Rivan

PROCLAMAR! Evangelistic Conference

from the churches, but many were friends, neighbors, and relatives who were invited.  During this conference there were 37 recorded salvation decisions, and these are now being followed up by our local churches.  We were pleased that several of our friends from the business community accepted our invitation to attend.  One man went forward to publicly proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ.  Please pray for Rivan, as he “grows in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

 

 

Wheel Barrel

Jim hauling concrete at Parque Grangeiro Church.

We continue with the church building in Parque Grangeiro.  A couple of weeks ago the men from the church, along with several men from the community, poured the concrete slab which is the ceiling to the downstairs and floor to the upstairs.  This next Sunday our church will actually meet on the concrete slab, under the stars, to thank God for His grace.  The next day, Monday, we are planning an open-air evangelistic meeting in a community just two blocks away from the church construction.  By God’s grace, on our short furlough last year, we were able to receive sufficient offerings to completely finish the downstairs of the building.  We are praying that what we have will also allow us to get the walls and roof on the upstairs.  A special thanks to all of you who contributed so that this young church can have a home in its community.

 

We are excited to receive a team of ten members from our home church, Grace Baptist in Austin, MN.  They will be arriving this weekend and will be with us for eleven days, all packed with adventure and ministry.  Among the ministries we have planned is a three day language encounter for Brazilians interested in developing their English skills.  With the theme, “Come Celebrate With US”, we will be sharing how Americans celebrate Easter, Independence, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Of course this is a platform for us to share the gospel of the grace of God.  We already have nearly 100 signed up for this encounter, most of whom are not saved.

We are coming to the end of this semester at the Bible college, with only two weeks of classes remaining.  The month of July is packed with retreats, camps, and music seminar.  We will be hosting four young people from two supporting churches.  Please pray that God’s grace would be sufficient for these, even through their weakness, as they will be ministering cross-culturally and in a different language.

Thank you all for your love and prayers for us as we serve in NE Brazil, by God’s grace.

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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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Filed under Family, Make Disciples, Oasis, Parque Grangeiro Church