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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Pray for Brazil

April 9, 2016

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  All around the world we are seeing chaos; political, social, economic, and religious chaos.  We can’t keep from thinking that our King, Jesus Christ, will be soon returning.  But until He returns we keep busy preaching His gospel and making disciples, just as He commanded.

Missions Conference

Poster for Cariri Baptist Seminary Missions Conference – 2016

At the Seminary we are planning for the annual missions conference on April 27-29.  With the theme Announcing the Light of the World in the City of Men, we will focus on missions in the world’s largest urban areas.  Jim’s Missions class will bring reports on some cities which are in need of missionaries and Julie’s cooking class will be serving the canteen each night of the conference.

Culto Evangelístico

Evangelism class preaching the gospel in Parque Grangeiro

This week the students from Jim’s Evangelism class held two street evangelism meetings in different parts of Parque Grangeiro, the neighborhood of our church plant.

Construction on the Parque Grangeiro church is going well, as the downstairs walls are up to ceiling height.  After we get the concrete ceiling poured, which is also the floor for the upstairs auditorium, we hope to do enough of the finish work downstairs so that the church can move.  We are now aiming for this to happen in July which is sooner than what we were planning.  The use of the school where the church has been meeting has become increasingly complicated.  On our recent furlough we received several special offerings which were put towards this church building.  A special thanks to all of you who contributed.  We have also begun the construction of our house which we hope to complete by the end of this year.  We began with the shop and dog house to let our construction crew practice with some different building techniques.  We’re very happy with their efficiency and speed.  They are a blessing!

The pastor of First Baptist Church in Crato left at the beginning of this year to assume a ministry in another state.  This is the church with which we work in one of its church plants.  This church currently has five daughter churches in and around the city of Crato.  Rafael, a young man who was leading one of the church plants, was called to be the interim pastor for six months while the church works through the calling of the next pastor.  Rafael has asked Jim to assist him during this transition time, as neither he nor most of the church members have been through a pastoral transition.  Though we are delighted to help our church in this way, it does involve many hours of visits, meetings, counseling and prayer.  Please pray for First Baptist Church, that the members would all be united in one Spirit.

Please be in prayer for Brazil as a nation.  Because of some major corruption scandals surrounding the governing party, dozens of businessmen and congressmen have been found guilty and the president is facing impeachment.  This instability has brought on a recession that has closed down many businesses and factories.  Unemployment is high and prices have skyrocketed.  Millions of Brazilians are participating in street manifestations against corruption.  We do not feel that public security has been affected yet, but the conditions are right for massive chaos, with a weak government, shattered economy, and a restless public.

Alexa and friend

Alexa with friend found in the cleaning closet

At the end of this month we’ll be driving out to Fortaleza to see Alexa Wood off.  It is hard to believe that she will have been here for four months.  Alexa has been a big help with the cleaning of the OASIS, but now we are looking for somebody to replace her.  Pray for Alexa as she returns home to a busy summer, which includes a two week trip in June back here with a the Grace to Brazil team from our home church.

 

Thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support.

Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Phone: (515) 257-2766

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

 

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For His Glory, By His Grace

February 29, 2016

Dear Prayer Partners,

The adventures of getting  settled back into life in NE Brazil have been extraordinary!   Much time has been spent reconnecting with friends and colleagues; listening, counseling and praying.  Days have been spent overseeing work crews as they readied 4 homes in our married student village.  Hours have been spent tracking lost baggage; all 10 have been found, minus our new video projector.  Alexa Wood was a blessing as we deep-cleaned our living quarters and guest apartments.

In the past few weeks we’ve also participated in two administrative meetings with our Baptist Mid-Missions colleagues, one with the NE Brazil missionaries and the other with the All-Brazil Field.  NE Brazil has seen a rapid decline in the number of missionaries over the past ten years.  We are now about twenty missionaries to work in this ten-state region.  There is still much to be done in this part of the world.  Please pray that God will call more missionaries to NE Brazil.  At the BMM All-Brazil Field meetings Jim was elected to be Brazil Field treasurer.  This involves a good deal of work but it is a joy to serve in this capacity to lighten the load from our missionaries all around Brazil.

Some of our 2016 incoming class

Some of our 2016 incoming class

The “calm” is over as our classes have begun at the seminary.  Jim is teaching Missions to the second year students, and Personal Evangelism to the incoming freshman class.  Julie is teaching her Cooking class and also one on Raising Children God’s Way.  This second class was requested by some married students’ wives.  Her week will be fuller than expected but Fridays have been set aside to work on her Christ-Centered Celebrations textbook.  Jim is also preparing for various missions conferences scheduled for March and April.  Even though the economic recession in Brazil is taking a toll on the churches and the Brazilian missionary’s support, the heart to take the Gospel to world is alive and well.  Please pray that the Brazilian church will learn how to truly sacrifice for the cause of Christ.

Arquitect's concept of Parque Grangeiro church

Arquitect’s concept of Parque Grangeiro church

This week we will be starting up construction on the building for the Parque Grangeiro church.  The footings were completed while we were on furlough but the construction was put on hold for lack of a work crew.  We now have a group of men from our church who are able to continue putting up this  building.  We are rejoicing that God has provided nearly all of the needed funds for the construction.  We hope to move into the new church building by the end of this year.  We should also begin the construction of our house within the next couple of weeks.  For the time being we are living in one of the OASIS houses, which is intended for furloughing Brazilian missionaries.

On March 3-5, the Cariri Baptist Seminary will be celebrating 70 years, with a conference theme, “For His Glory, By His Grace”.  We look forward to seeing many former students who are serving the Lord faithfully all around Brazil and on some foreign fields.  Thank you for your prayers and support of this ministry over the past 25 years.  It was “for His glory and by His grace”, that He called us here and we will remain faithful until He moves us!  We appreciate your prayers as we help to equip and encourage the Brazilians whom God has called to His harvest fields.

Visit www.facebook.com/seminariobatistacariri/ for  current pictures of our college

Visit http://www.facebook.com/seminariobatistacariri/ for current pictures of our college

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Back in NE Brazil

January 24, 2016

Dear Prayer Supporters,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  We have been back in Northeast Brazil for two weeks, but still feeling a bit unsettled.  After an adventurous re-routing by the airlines, which

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Josiah and Jennifer seeing us off at the airport in Des Moines, IA

included an extra night in Miami, we arrived in the Cariri without our luggage.  After one week, seven of our eight bags arrived.  The box that has not arrived contains a video projector, a laptop computer, several flannelgraph Bible story sets, and the books Jim was using to prepare for a class at the Bible College.  The airline has offered a financial settlement for the lost box, which we have rejected, because we want them to keep looking.   We feel that these tools are important for our ministry.  But perhaps God knows better.  So, please pray.

It is nice to be back home but we still feel far from settled.  The normal inconveniences of daily life here seem bigger than in the past:  household things breaking, lack of good customer service, bugs everywhere, and constant cleaning are just some of the irritations.  The heavy rains we’ve received for the past two weeks, though very welcome in this dry land, have added to the challenges.  Alexa, the short-termer from our church in Austin, MN, has been a blessing, especially with the cleaning.

It was good to reconnect with our church plant in the Parque Grangeiro.  During our absence, Dunga and Dalva, the couple who were saved early last year, were baptized and have become very active members.  We have at least ten regular visitors who have not yet made professions of faith in Jesus.  The construction of the church building didn’t progress as well as we had hoped in our absence, but the foundations and footings are in.

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Footings for the church building in Parque Grangeiro

We are now regrouping with the men of the church to continue building this much needed facility.  Our “mother” church, First Baptist of Crato, is going through the pains of recently having its pastor move to another ministry.  Our church does have five young men caring for the church plants, all students or recent graduates of our Bible College.  One of these, Rafael, has been asked to be the interim pastor.  The church is needing healing in some areas of ministry and in relationships between some of the members.  Jim has been called on by Rafael and by others in the church for counsel and encouragement.

This week, a visit from one of our “daughters”, a young lady who was saved during our ministry in João Pessoa, reminded us to refocus on why we are here.  Haildelene and Mouzinho are faithfully serving God in a very difficult region of central Mozambique.  Their ministry is to hundreds of children, mostly from Muslim families, and also teaching national pastors, all of whom have had no formal ministerial training.  We have been challenged to bring a couple who they have discipled to study for one year at our Bible college.  One year isn’t much, but it would give this young couple more training than any other pastor on that field.  Please pray with us for Elizeu and his wife, from Mozambique, that God would provide for this one year of study.  This would be part of a larger project which we’ll share with you in a future letter.

Tomorrow we will be joining our Baptist Mid-Missions co-workers from across Northeast Brazil for our annual conference.  At this conference we are encouraged in the Word, report to each other on our individual ministries, pray, and plan together for the upcoming year.  Our numbers continue to decline as another couple of dear friends announced a change of ministry to the United States.  We continue to ask God to send more laborers into His harvest fields of Northeast Brazil.

Perhaps this letter may reveal a bit of the discouragement we are feeling.  Please pray for us, that God would give us strength and grace to fulfill the ministries to which He has called us.

Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

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End of Furlough

December 16, 2015

Dear Prayer Supporters,

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  Many of the Psalms remind us to “give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.”  As our six-month furlough comes to an end, we look back on His goodness.  We write this letter from sunny Florida, where we came to escape the Minnesota winter… well, not really.  Minnesota is enjoying one of the mildest winters in history.  But last Sunday, after our final visit to a supporting church for this furlough, we flew to Florida to visit several special friends and mentors who have faithfully prayed for us over the years.  In a few days we’ll return to Minnesota to pack up for our return to the mission field of Northeast Brazil.  On December 27th our home church in Austin, MN, will have a re-commissioning service, and we fly out of Des Moines on January 5th.

As we sum up this six month furlough, we have given ministry reports in 20 churches, taught 17 Sunday School or college classes, preached 16 times, and visited more friends than we can count.  God has blessed us with an awesome support team.  We are sorry that we were not able to connect with all of our friends and supporters.  For those we missed, you’ll be at the top of our list when we return to the United States next time.  We also rejoice over God’s financial provision.  One family increased their monthly contribution and a few of our churches are considering an increase to our support.  God has provided, through several gifts, the funds to continue the building of the Parque Grangeiro church.  We now have nearly what we will need to complete this project.

Upon our return to Brazil we will have three weeks before the school year begins at the Bible College.  We will also be participating in the annual conference for our Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries in NE Brazil.  Please pray for safe travels and for a smooth transition back into the field ministries.  We also ask you to pray for the First Baptist Church in Crato, the church through which we work in Brazil as church planters.  Our pastor was led to serve a church in a different area of Brazil, so we will probably be helping the church find the man who should lead the church.

Please continue to pray for our Bible Correspondence School.  We are asking God to give us a national director to lead this ministry.  We are currently praying and corresponding with a young man who might be a possible candidate for this job.

Last Friday the Cariri Baptist Seminary graduated nineteen men and women; most of these have already assumed ministry positions.  Pray for the three who are still deciding where the Lord would have them serve.  And pray for the incoming class next year.  Our prayer is that God would send us just the right ones who will benefit from the training we give them, to become effective servants of God.

And we thank God for you, our support team, for your continuous prayers, support, and love.  Your goodness is a reflection of God’s goodness towards us.

We will miss our family upon our return to the mission field.

We will miss our family upon our return to the mission field.

 

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We are Blessed

November 3, 2015

Dear Prayer Supporters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray for Alexa

Pray for Alexa

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

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

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Furlough Ministries

September 25, 2015

Dear Prayer Partners,

Psalm 65:2 “All humanity will come to You, the One who hears prayer.” How we hope to see the people of Brazil coming to God, in repentance, confession of sin, and reconciliation with God.  We keep nearly daily contact with our people in Brazil, and rejoice over the encouraging news we receive.

We appreciate your prayers for us as we carry on with “home” ministries on our six-month furlough.  We love being close to our sending church, Grace Baptist, in Austin, MN.  Although we have been travelling a good deal of the time we have been a part of an all-church picnic, the beginning of the AWANA year, and just this week the annual conference for the Minnesota Association of Regular Baptist Churches which was hosted by Grace.  For this last event it was a blessing to reconnect with many faithful pastors and wives, missionaries, and members of our support team.  Dr. Ernie Schmidt blessed us with an amazing walk through the book of Nehemiah.

In the past few weeks we’ve renewed precious friendships and made new ones as we reported to four churches in Wisconsin and Iowa, visited some personal supporters, attended the wedding of one of our Brazil MK’s, Jeremiah (and Amber) Willson, and were present for the installation of Jim Tillotson as the new president at Faith Baptist Bible College (FBBC).  Of course we also snuck some precious moments with the kids and grandkids while we were in Ankeny, IA.  In the next few weeks we’ll continue visiting churches in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and also participate in the annual Missions Conference at FBBC.  To top it off, we’ll celebrate four October birthdays with our family in Ankeny.   Please pray for our safe travels and wisdom to make the most of our time to minister to others.

We also ask you to pray for our support needs.  We rarely have mentioned our personal finances, as perhaps this is the first time in our 27 years on the mission field that we are under-supported.  We praise the Lord for the twenty churches and eight families who faithfully, sometimes sacrificially, contribute to the mission in NE Brazil.  And we are thankful for the team of prayer supporters who constantly remind us that we are not alone in this ministry.  We are blessed!

In the midst of our busy schedule, we’re still both trying to work on our projects:  Julie’s textbook for Christ-Centered Celebrations and Jim’s preparation for the class on World Religions.  With non-stop activities, it hasn’t been easy.  Please continue to pray for our strength and health while we’re in the States.  Julie has had issues with her lower back, a cracked and abscessed tooth, and a light bout with shingles.  Praise the Lord she has recovered from these.

Luana, the young lady who works in our Correspondence School office.

Luana, the young lady who works in our Correspondence School office.

Please continue to pray for our Source of Light Bible Correspondence School in Brazil.  The office is open and functioning, with the part-time help of Luana, a young lady from our church.  But we need a national director for this ministry if it is to progress any.

Thank you for your interest and prayers for God’s mission in Northeast Brazil.

Your Servants for Christ in NE Brazil,

Jim & Julie Leonard

Grandparenting is such fun!

Grandparenting is such fun!

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