“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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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

DSC_0149 (Medium)

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.

DSC_0170 (Medium)

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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