Called to Serve
By Ana Paula Carvalho
Totally convinced God chose and separated him for missionary work, Pastor Clóvis Leandro and his family committed themselves to go to those who need to hear the Good News of salvation.
Most of us agree our church is a missionary church. All agree this will always be a priority. Unfortunately, our actions do not always line up with this truth. Few leaders invest their resources, teaching time, and training toward sending out missionaries.
I like pioneer missionary David Livingston’s statement: “God only had one Son, and He made Him a missionary.” Jesus left His glory and came to earth to establish the Kingdom of God, denounce sin, and restore our fellowship with God through His own death on the cross. This truth has still not reached all people groups and nations of the earth. To speak of missions is to proclaim the love of God. To be in missions is to express and transmit all this love to humanity.
Within our own country of Brazil, many people still have never heard the gospel. Many others have heard it but have not had the opportunity to be taught and learn the true way of salvation—Jesus (John 14:6). Many Christians never cross borders, county lines, or even the street in their neighborhoods to proclaim the gospel.
The Church should never forget the real condition of humanity without Christ, hope, or salvation. We all have a responsibility to go, preach, make disciples, baptize, and teach (Matthew 28:19, 20).
In 2010, during a ten-day visit Pastor Clóvis and his wife Cristina made to the town of Delmiro Gouveia in the state of Alagoas (Brazil), they visited relatives in the village of Boa Esperança (Portuguese for good hope). They recognized that those who lived there needed to hear the Word of God and be taught. The family began to feel a call to missionary work.
In 2012, they had an opportunity to return to Boa Esperança. With each visit, God confirmed in their hearts the need for them to be there, teaching the Word of God. They returned to Campinas (in the state of São Paulo) where they lived, saddened by the suffering population of a village dedicated to idolatry and rituals due to a lack of knowledge of the truth.
As their desire to be in Alagoas grew, Pastor Clóvis and Cristina intensified their prayers, seeking direction from the Lord. Cristina became pregnant in 2014. As the pregnancy progressed, she began to experience many complications that put her life and the baby’s life at risk. Still, the couple persevered in prayer. Through all the difficulties, God continued to confirm His calling. After the baby was born, they understood it was God’s will for them to move to the state of Alagoas to evangelize this village.
In 2015 the couple spent 30 days in the town of Delmiro Gouveia and once again visited the village of Boa Esperança. They distributed Bibles and held services in several homes. The villagers began showing great interest in God’s Word. Assured they had gained the favor and hospitality of the people, Pastor Clóvis and Cristina came away satisfied, with a renewed desire to continue ministering to this village.
With the assurance of their calling, the support of the Nova América FWB Church in Campinas where they are members, and the help of other Free Will Baptist churches and International Missions, Pastor Leandro and his family moved to Alagoas in March 2016.
From the very beginning, they faced many challenges. Preparing to make the move took a lot of effort and faith. It entailed an exhausting 1,400-mile trip by car with their two-year-old daughter. When they arrived, they waited ten days for the moving truck to deliver their belongings to the house they had rented.
The couple travels an hour each weekend to get to the village of Boa Esperança. They are happy to do it and are grateful to the Lord. The people of the village are extremely poor, without electricity or access to medical care, and have a high illiteracy rate.
On the first weekend Pastor Clóvis and Cristina ministered in the village, they were taken to the house of André, a young man who had been bedridden for months due to an accident. André’s family, happy for them to pray for him, also offered their home to the missionary family on weekends. They used this house to begin Bible classes with children.
After a few weeks, an awkward situation developed when a newly-built Catholic church across the street also began to hold classes for children. Clóvis and Cristina prayed, and God prepared another family who offered an unfinished house for the weekend Bible classes. They cleaned up the construction site, and made the new location ready to receive those the Lord brought to hear the Word. They have the support of many local families, and in their new location, the attendance soon increased to ten children.
Besides the children, three young people showed interest in studying the Word. As Pastor Leandro conducted Bible studies, they came to understand their need to accept the Lord Jesus Christ by faith and made their decisions before the Bible study was completed. This was a day of much rejoicing. After being in Alagoas for only three months, these obedient servants are already reaping the fruit of preaching the gospel.
They still need to overcome many difficulties. Approximately 80% of the village’s adult population is illiterate, which increases the challenge of teaching the Bible. They are limited in resources such as Bibles, teaching materials for children, and resources for offering the children a snack.
Yet Pastor Clóvis and Cristiana’s story is one of obedience to the call of the Lord upon their lives, and they work with zeal, joy, and great dedication—always giving thanks to the Lord for everything. The Alagoas Missions Project needs our prayers.
About the Author: Ana Paula Carvalho is the wife of Pastor Paulo César Carvalho and mother of 12-year-old Ana Júlia. Ana Paula and her husband have led the Nova América FWB Church in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, since it began in 2003. Ana Paula is a graduate of Escola Teológica Batista Livre (Free Will Baptist Bible College) in Campinas where she graduated with a two-year Associate degree in Bible.
The state of Alagoas is the second poorest in Brazil, with 60% of its population below the poverty line.
This is the first Free Will Baptist work in the state of Alagoas, and in all the northeastern part of Brazil. Until now, Free Will Baptists have only had churches in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Brasília (Federal District). Twenty-three states have no Free Will Baptist church.
Pastor Clóvis is a graduate of Escola Teológica Batista Livre (Free Will Baptist Bible College) in Campinas where he earned a B.A. degree in Bible. He was ordained to the gospel ministry in March 2016.
The Nova América FWB Church where Clóvis and Cristina are members (average attendance of about 70 people) has also sent another member as a missionary to South Africa and Turkey, where she served for five years.
FWBIM is partnering with the Nova América Church in the church-planting effort in Alagoas.