John & Bev Leonard, Missionaries to Brazil
Dear Prayer Team,
We now have a new blog! Our May/June, 2013 is at:
The title is:
Walking, Wheeling, and Working
John and Bev Leonard’s Adventures in Brazil.
John and Bev
BELLS OF HEAVEN
We could not be more thrilled to report to you that Sr. Picolo, whom we asked prayer for in our last letter, has now received Christ as his Savior!!! The first time we met him, he was in a rest home where we had regular weekly services. Of the twenty to thirty residents that would attend our meeting, we would say that his response to the plan of salvation always seemed very “cold” and irresponsive. After our furlough, we went back to the home to do visits on a regular basis, and we were told that Sr. Picolo had moved, and no one seemed to have his phone number or knew where he was. Then, as we told you in our last letter, one day he called us and told us that he was “missing us,” and that he would like to have a visit! When we went to see him, we found out that he was not receiving good care at all, and he seemed really discouraged. After we read the Bible, prayed and sang, and we could tell that he was touched. As always, John gave him the plan of salvation, gave him a tract, and told him we would be back soon. Since then, we have continued to visit him. On our most recent visit, John told him near the end of our time together that if he ever wanted to get saved he should let us know. He then smiled and said, “I am a believer. I believed after reading one of your booklets!” How thankful we are to our Heavenly Father and also to you dear ones who prayed specifically for Sr. Picolo! Please continue to pray for us as we now disciple him in the Word.
It was a joy to witness the marriage of Melkey and Marta, a young couple who were saved through the ministry in São Pedro. We are anxious to see what God is going to do with this young man and lady. Both are talented musically, and Melkey has become a real leader especially among the young people. Although we were not able to witness it, another wedding took place in Juazeiro do Norte two weeks ago. John’s niece, JoyAnna Leonard, was married to a young man who grew up in our youth group in Maceio, Fabio Volpi. We were honored that they stopped in and stayed with us for three days during their honeymoon! They were making their way down to the southern tip of Brazil where Fabio is currently ministering. After Fabio preached at our congregation this past Sunday night, one lady came forward for salvation. How exciting for these “newlyweds” to start out their married life being used of God in such a way!
Wedding of Melkey and Marta
Since our last letter, we received some of the best news two “older people” could ever want! The Lord willing, our son Jerrod, and his wife, Alyssa will be having our very first grandchild on or around September 27th!!!! You can imagine the excitement there is around here and in our family. We are enjoying calling each other “Grandpa and Grandma,” and our kids are loving the thoughts of being called “Dad, Mom, Aunt, and Uncle!” Please pray for a safe delivery of a healthy baby, and that this child would grow to love and serve God.
Jerrod and wife expecting
our first grandchild!
Thank you for your fervent prayers. They are “availing much.” James 5:16
With grateful hearts,
John and Bev Leonard
Missionaries to Brazil with Baptist Mid-Missions
“…It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord…”
This is our Thanksgiving letter. What? In January? Yes. You read right!! Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving and praise to the Lord for all He has done, and we want to share it with you!
Our first note of praise is that we have moved. We are now much closer to our work in bairro Sao Pedro. We have enjoyed being more and more involved in the ministry in that needy area of greater Sao Paulo.
Secondly, three out of the four of our children were able to be here in Brazil during the Christmas season. Josh and Jerrod participated in the special Christmas meeting that took place at Good News Baptist Church in Sao Pedro, and Jerrod was greatly used of God when he spoke. We were also blessed to have Jonna and her husband, Tim O’Tool here with us for both Christmas and New Years. Jonna played the piano, sang special music, and got reacquainted with old friends. Tim gave his testimony, preached, and tried learning as much Portuguese as possible. Their time with us was very special, and they are even considering coming back to serve the Lord here in Brazil!
Another great blessing is that progress has been made in the area of the construction of our auditorium. Fans, emergency lights, a complete PVC ceiling have been installed. (See picture) By the grace of God and your prayers and generous giving, all three were accomplished right before our special Christmas cantata service. Christmas and New Years come in the middle of our summer season, so the fans were enjoyed by all!!
New fans, lights and ceiling at Sao Pedro
We also praise the Lord that we recently received a phone call from “Picolo,” a quadriplegic that we have had the privilege of ministering to in the past. We had actually lost track of him since he moved from one care center to another while we were on furlough and no one had contact information for him. He asked if we could come visit him since he was “com saudades” (missing us). What an honor it was to open God’s Word with him and share from our hearts once again what the Lord has done in our lives. He has heard the Gospel many times before, and heard it once again. He did not make a decision for Christ, but we are sensing that God is at work and that he may be very close to getting saved.
John giving the Gospel to Picolo
We thank our Lord and we thank you for all that has been accomplished in His work here in Brazil. Would you please take some time to thank the Lord together with us?
John and Bev Leonard
Missionaries to Sao Pedro, Brazil
Dear Prayer Team,
“And daily in the temple, and in every house,
they CEASED NOT to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
We thank our Lord that God has allowed us to continue to teach and preach Jesus Christ here in the land of Brazil. Let us share with you some great things God is doing.
The work at Good News Baptist Congregation in Sao Pedro continues steady and we are thankful for the progress we have seen. In the next few prayer letters, we will be sharing with you some “before and after” pictures of the construction and other aspects of the work. One of our biggest praises is that soon we will be able to move closer to the work so that we can become even more involved in reaching that needy neighborhood with the Gospel of Christ. PLEASE NOTICE OUR CHANGE IN ADDRESS:
John and Bev Leonard
Av. Antonio Fred. Ozanam, 6.000
Loja 1250, Caixa Postal 3070
13215-970 Jundiaí, SP
Just recently, four people raised their hands for salvation after John preached the Word during the invitation time. God is working!! Thank you for your continued prayers regarding this work.
We couldn’t be happier about the opportunities God has given to us to preach the Gospel “in the temple” (at Sao Pedro), and also “in every house.” Our most recent meeting was in a town called “Fazendinha” where we were invited into the home of an UNSAVED couple (Flavio and Maria and their little boy Kennedy). They invited their friends and neighbors and we had an excellent meeting. We believe that about ½ of the people present were not born again. This was soo exciting to us!! Although there were no decisions made, we were invited back, and we are thinking that God is really going to use this opportunity to reach more Brazilians with the Gospel. The best part about it is that they are all from North Brazil where we ministered previously, so we felt like we were back home! Even John’s “hillbilly” Portuguese accent was used to attract others to the meeting. God’s plan is ALWAYS perfect in our lives!
Your prayers for us are vital to our work. Thank you again, and we encourage you to keep on praying!!
Sincerely in Christ,
John and Bev Leonard
Your Missionaries to Brazil, South America
June, 2012, church sign Sept., 2012 church meeting in basement Construction New building…PTL!!
Greetings from Brazil! What an exciting time it has been for us! The amazing congregational singing, the general openness and interest in hearing the Gospel, the awesome hugs from Brazilian friends, various Brazilian foods , and even the crazy traffic are all things that we realized immediately that we missed in the U.S.A. John has been having the time of his life being able to preach and witness again in portuguese. We thank each of you for your prayers on our behalf. God is so good to us, and we want to share with you some of the things He has done.
Thank you for your prayers for the wedding of our daughter, Jonna, to Tim O’Tool on June 9th in the U.S.A. It went very well with hardly any glitches, and we felt that the Lord was pleased and glorified through it. Continue to pray for Tim and Jonna as Tim will continue his pastoral degree at Faith Baptist Bible College, and Jonna her nursing degree at Des Moines Area Community College.
We could not believe how well John was able to travel. He did not get sick and we were able to witness many times to stewardesses, pilots, people in the airports, fellow passengers…so many opportunities for which we praise the Lord. Our trip began at 6:00 a.m. on June 17th leaving the Des Moines airport and heading to Chicago to do a plane switch and then on to another in Panama (of all places–what John won’t do to save some extra $$ on plane tickets!), and then onto Sao Paulo. God sends the right people at the right time. Without Jess Caster, (our RN friend who came with us), our trip would have been extremely difficult. She helped us ESPECIALLY with transferring John, carrying baggage and whatever came up, she was right there. After filling out paperwork for a lost bag and John’s broken wheelchair, and being “waved through” customs (PTL!), we headed on home, so our total trip time from the time we left our home in Ankeny to the time we arrived here at our Brazilian home was about 25 hours. Thankfully, three days later, the bag was delivered right to our door. We have attempted several times to fix John’s chair without success. The latest is that we may need a part from the States, so it will be interesting to see how the Lord works that all out. We DO praise the Lord that we have a spare chair here. It needed batteries, so we did something we have never tried before. Because the appropriate batteries are next to impossible to find, we just bought two car batteries, and it worked! So at least John has his wheels. Please pray with us as we work through the chair situation.
Our first service in Sao Pedro was thrilling. So exciting to see God at work…the new believers who are growing in the Lord, the baptismal class, the progress on the construction. Just last night before the service during a visit, one lady made a profession of faith in her home. John preached and two more decisions were made. Also, Michelle, an unsaved young lady the receptionist at the place that we got our heater fixed has shown interest in having a Bible study in her home. Sandra, a friend of ours is planning a business trip to the U.S. and wants to brush up on her English. Bev is looking forward to use this opportunity to give the Gospel to her. Please pray.
It is through your prayers and faithfulness that God has been so good. We thank you for the most vital part you have in our ministry here in Brazil.
Sincerely in Christ,
John and Bev Leonard
“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.”
It has been wonderful to see our God at work during these past few days. We praise Him that all of our Sundays have been filled with meetings close-by with the exception of Easter and Mother’s Day. We also have some meetings scheduled on Wednesday evenings. Many of the churches here in Iowa that we have had the privilege to visit are our “praying churches” and often we do not get a chance to visit them during our normal furlough. God continues to use His Word and John’s testimony as we go from church to church. A bonus has been that some of our needed monthly support has come in. What an encouragement that has been to us! We also praise Him for allowing us to get to know a young Brazilian couple, Andre and Maria, who live right here in Ankeny, IA. Andre has a PhD in crop pest control and works for Pioneer. They are not saved yet, so we are praying for their salvation. It was wonderful to be able to have them in our home this past Thursday evening for some Brazilian “delicacies,” and also to speak in Portuguese, talk about Brazil, and above all, share the Gospel plainly to them in their native language for the second time. Continue to pray for their salvation. They also have a young daughter, Lucinha.
We are in the thick of the wedding plans for our daughter, Jonna, and her fiance, Tim O’Tool. Since it will take place on June 9th, we are feeling time quickly slipping away from us. Please pray with us that on this very special day in our lives, at least one person would accept Christ as Savior and that the Lord would be glorified. For those of you who will not be able to attend, you will be able to watch the wedding LIVE on u-stream at this site-Saylorvillebaptist.com/live. Tim has plans to finish up his pastoral studies degree at Faith Baptist Bible College, and Jonna will continue pursuing her RN. We truly trust that they will continue serving our Lord diligently together throughout their lives.
Bev’s parents, Keith and Donna Fincham will be celebrating 60 years of marriage on August 6th of this year! This is quite a milestone, and since our plans are to head back to the field on June 17th, the family is planning a celebration two months early on June 6th. We also were reminded of our rich Christian heritage two weekends ago when John’s mother, Frances Leonard, was honored in Brazil for 75 years of life, 60 years of “spiritual life” and 50 years of missionary service to our Lord! Congratulations to our parents!
What an honor to reach a milestone in our lives as well. We were part of the 1987 Baptist Mid-Missions candidate class in Cedarville, OH. Yes, that was 25 years ago. Thank you for the vital part you have had in this joyful and God-honoring ministry.
Our tickets for our move back to Brazil have been purchased for June 17th. Our hearts are actually already down there, and we are anxiously awaiting this date! John is scheduled to speak on Sunday, June 24th at our church plant in Sao Pedro. They have kept us up-to-date on the happenings, and we are excited to meet the new believers, to renew acquaintances with others, and to continue reaching out to this needy mountain village with the Gospel of Christ. We also can’t wait to see the progress that has been made on the construction. Although it has been slow, they are so happy about what they have been able to accomplish in our absence, and we are, too! We praise the Lord for the opportunity we have to work with this loving group of people. Along with the blessing of being able to return to the field, God has given us another extra-special blessing. Jess Caster, an RN friend of ours, has offered to travel back with us to Brazil, helping us with our baggage, John’s transfers (we are switching planes in Chicago and Panama), and any other needs that may arise. She will be with us until July 30th, which should allow us to get settled into a good routine before she leaves. Jess is excited, since she is open to a possible future ministry in Brazil, should the Lord call her. It has certainly amazed us to see how God has provided for each and every need, and we know that your prayers have been effectual and fervent.
John and Bev Leonard
Andre, Maria, and Lucinha
Dear Prayer Team, March, 2012
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” Is. 60:1-2
God answered your prayers!! We are back from our extensive trip out west to visit supporting churches, supporting individuals, family, and friends. Wow! What a trip it was, and many, many times we felt “an extra measure of strength” which could be nothing but your prayers. How can we possibly tell you how valuable they are to us?!? Even as we ministered, we could just tell that God had “gone before us” and made hearts truly receptive to His Word. Thank you so much for this vital role that you play in our “team effort” to reach souls for Christ and edify believers. May the Lord bless each one.
TRIP OUT WEST
We have tried to decide what the “highlight” of our trip was out west, and truly it is a near impossible task! God gave us so many opportunities to minister…to individuals, to couples, to small groups of students ( including a group of college-aged Chinese students who cannot be freely taught the things of the Bible in China, so they are brought here to the U.S. where they can have in-depth discipleship–how awesome!), to youth groups, to Sunday School and Kid’s Clubs, to ladies’ groups, to churches of all sizes, to new church plants, to Bible studies…wow… we praise our Lord for His grace and mercy in allowing us to be involved in each one! However, one opportunity seemed to be a divine appointment by God and it was quite unique. On the final day of our missionary conference at Calvary Baptist Church in Mesa, AZ, we ate our noon meal out at a buffet restaurant with a dear couple. When Bev went to start the van afterwards, she could not get the key to turn in the ignition. We thought it was because we were using our spare key since our other key had been left with another person who was planning to use our van to pick up a handicapped individual to bring to church, so the man we ate lunch with decided to go get the other key. It was during that time while we were visiting with our hostess and showing her pictures from our trip on our camera that a Vietnamese young lady named Cindy came up to us and offered to take our picture. John struck up a conversation with her and then we decided to give her a “Gospel coin” that a man from Open Door Baptist in Prescott Valley, AZ had given to us. The coin said “Where will you spend eternity?” John 3:36. Since she was just learning English, she asked us, “What is eternity?” What an opportunity!! We then were able to talk to her about her need to accept Jesus as her Savior so that she could spend eternity with Him. She told us she had been faithful to attend the Buddhist temple for two years in her life, but that she was now “in limbo” trying to decide if Buddhism or Christianity was what she wanted to follow. We invited her to church, and our hostess said she was going to follow up on her and encourage her in the Lord. After that, we were able to get the van started, and there really seemed to be no other reason for the delay other than we were supposed to talk to Cindy about where she would spend eternity!! Thank you for your prayers, and thank you, Lord, for one more chance to witness for you. Continue to pray for Cindy and her lost condition.
Early in our road trip, we received some exciting news from our daughter, Jonna. She became engaged to Tim O’Tool, a godly young man who has a heart for God and for the Lord’s work. He is attending Faith Baptist Bible College preparing for the ministry and plans to graduate in 2013. They plan to be married on Saturday, June 9th, and after seeking advice from both our home office and our home church, we were counseled to stay here in the States until after the wedding. The decision was not easy. In fact, we already have at least half of our packing done and we were so excited to be able to soon return to Brazil. But we have great peace that this is what we should be doing at this time. Our field administrator, VW Peters, notified us that we are still a little below the needed monthly support level, and encouraged us to contact churches at this time to try to bring that level up. Between visiting churches, wedding preparations, doing more packing and preparing for the move, we are sure that this short time will fly by. We are thankful for the opportunity to help our daughter during this important phase of her life. Please pray that the wedding will be used to glorify the Lord, and pray that Jonna and Tim would be used in His service. Pray also for us as we set up meetings that God would continue using us.
WORK IN SAO PEDRO
What a joy it was to be able to talk with Pastor Eneias about the work in Sao Pedro. Most of you know that John was scheduled to speak at their anniversary celebration on March 10th, and although it will be hard for us to miss this joyful occasion, we promised our prayers on their behalf. We ask that you, our prayer team, pray with us for these dear people. One of our concerns is Pastor’s and his wife, Mara’s health. We praise the Lord that God has sustained them thus far and has used them mightily to reach this dark area of Brazil with the light of the Gospel. They reported that attendance is up and down, but they are seeing God work in the lives of the believers. They are holding regular open air meetings, and excitement is in the air for the upcoming weekend conference in celebration of their anniversary. The construction is going forward at a slow but steady pace. Continue to pray that God would bless our new church plant. We can’t wait to get back!!
Thank you again for your prayers!
Sincerely in Christ,
John and Bev Leonard
Dear Prayer Team,
We are writing this from Wilson, KS where we just had wonderful meetings here at First Baptist Church. Our next trek out west has just begun and ask that you pray as we head over the Rockies this coming week. Our request is for safety and good weather. Pray also for our speaking engagements that God would go before us and prepare people’s hearts. Our total time on the road this time is 41 days and we will be in 11 States. Upon our arrival at home in Iowa on March 1st, we will have 7 days to pack up before we get on the plane and head to Brazil on March 8th! Continue to pray with us regarding these busy days that most of all God would use us to reach souls and edify believers for His glory.
During the month of December, it was our pleasure to be able to be involved in the Rise Up (special needs) ministry at Saylorville Baptist Church. We praise the Lord for allowing us to be used in this way, and what a joy it was to see new faces at the special Christmas event. It was great to be involved in this awesome ministry that reaches out not only to those who have special needs, but also to their caregivers. Pray with us that God would continue to bless the Rise Up ministry.
The Lord has allowed us to stay in touch with the congregation at Sao Pedro where we plan to continue ministering. The anniversary celebration is planned for March 10th, one day after our arrival in Brazil, and John has been asked to speak. He is so excited to be able to jump right back into the work! Pray for strength as he preaches that many Brazilian lives would be touched.
John also heard from one of his favorite little boys from the work in Sao Pedro. His name is “Paulinho,” an ornery little kid (pictured below), who hardly ever misses church. His story is quite sad, as the last we heard, both of his parents were in jail, and one of the ladies of the church took him in so that he wouldn’t be on the street. Even though he always seems to find some type of mischief to get into, he loves to come to church. We are praying that some day God would use him in a mighty way. Paulinho still has not made his decision for salvation, so please pray that soon he would take this important step of faith.
Thank you again for your prayers! We appreciate each one of you!
Sincerely in Christ,
John and Bev Leonard
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger;
because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Our hearts rejoice that even though our Savior, Jesus Christ was turned down by the innkeeper before He arrived on this earth, He is doing just the opposite today. He is inviting each person to come to Him, and we know that there is always room for more in His kingdom (John 14:2).
Furlough Since January, we have been here in the States spending most of our time traveling around to our supporting churches and individuals up-dating them on the work in Brazil. Once again, we have been encouraged to see salvation of souls and we would like to tell you about one of our most recent experiences. In October, we had the privilege of speaking at a hay-ride in Williamsburg, IA. (They even used a skid-loader to lift John up wheelchair and all onto the hay trailer!!). What a joy it was to witness the salvation of at least three individuals as a result of this ministry. How grateful we are that there is much room in God’s kingdom for those who desire to accept Him as their personal Savior.
Family It has been a busy year for our family! Joshua stayed behind when we came to the States and he continues to be involved in the Lord’s work in Brazil. He enjoys teaching English at Medford Business School and is a good witness to anyone with whom he comes in contact. Jerrod graduated in May from Faith Baptist Bible College and one week later married Alyssa, a pastor’s daughter from Normal, IL. Jerrod is currently serving the Lord as Children’s Ministries Director at Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, MI. Jonna has completed the first phase of her nursing degree and is studying at FBBC. She is dating Tim O’Toole, who is also at Faith, and is interested in serving the Lord as a missionary someday. Jeanne graduated from high school in May and has begun her elementary education degree at Des Moines Area Community College. She is also enjoying working at TJMaxx, and has done well at adapting to the American culture. Please remember our family in prayer so that we would continue to faithfully share Christ with others and see more people enter into God’s kingdom.
Future Even though we are planning to head back to the mission field of Brazil for four more years to serve the Lord alone, we are excited to see what God will do in and through us. Our children have been a vital part of our ministry for all these years, and they will most certainly be missed. But we are reminded time and time again how God uses our “weaknesses” to show His strength in our lives. Our last furlough meeting is on February 26, 2012. One more long trip is planned out west (western Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, California, and Arizona) to minister and report to supporters, so please be in prayer for this journey. God has been so gracious to us this year as we have not had to miss any commitments because of health, car trouble or any other reason! How grateful we are to our Savior for His goodness and we thank you for your prayers, which have sustained us. We continue hearing good reports from the work in Sao Pedro, Brazil, where we plan to spend our next term. There is still room for more to accept Jesus as Savior in that needy city, and that is why we are so excited to get back!
Festivities This year for the festivities our plans are to attend church and to be with our family. We are “making room” for time to spend with our Lord and with our family—the dearest things we have here on the earth. Are you doing the same, dear friend? May this be the year that you enter into God’s plan by receiving Christ as Savior, or that you will help others know that there is much room in His kingdom for everyone!
Sincerely in Christ,
John and Bev Leonard