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April-May 2015

10 Years in Print: Special Edition


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Full Circle

By Curt and Mary Holland


As she held my hand tightly, I wanted to appear calm and collected, but I was just as nervous as she. We had prayed about this day, planned for this day, and knew it was the right thing to do. However, as the plane sped down the runway then encountered thunderstorms and turbulence before reaching the destination, our hands became sweaty, and we found ourselves exhausted. We experienced many firsts that summer…first flight, first short-term missions experience, and first foreign country. Many short-term experiences have impacted us over the years, but the first molded us.

Pioneer missionaries challenged by short-term mission experiences had begun the first Free Will Baptist church in Campinas, Brazil. It was only fitting that our own summer experience at this church set into motion an ongoing circle of ministry for us, the Campinas church, and other short-term mission participants.

A pastoral ministry and three small children later, we returned to Brazil as career missionaries. While in language school, we attended the same church in Campinas. That summer, the church was pivotal in mobilization by hosting the first TEAM (Teens Equipped and Active in Missions) of high school students. Today, we rejoice over second-generation E-TEAM members whose parents participated in those first trips.

During our second term of service, the pastor of the church in Campinas invited us to start a new work with him in the city. Ten years after helping build the physical structure of First FWB Church during our summer experience, the Lord allowed us to help build another church in the same city.


Five members from the First Church worked with us to begin the new church. Two of the five members, Paulo Cesar and Ana Paula, eventually married and served as vital leaders in the new church plant. From a garage gathering to a church building filled with people, this couple and others were instrumental in continued development.

After planting an indigenous, Brazilian church with Brazilian leadership, we returned to the United States…but the circle continued. Paulo Cesar and Ana Paula were asked to launch another church in the Campinas community, and the Nova América FWB Church began. After meeting in homes and outgrowing them, the congregation began looking for a larger location.

High-school E-TEAM students spent two weeks of their summer helping the Nova América congregation clean, paint, decorate, and inaugurate their first meeting place. These students also distributed hundreds of flyers and invitations so the community heard about the first service. These efforts contributed to a successful opening.

As I spoke during that inaugural service in Nova América, my mind wandered back 20 summers to our first, anxious flight. How could the Lord use two inexperienced, young “kids” to build His Kingdom? The truth is, He loves to use the inexperienced but willing hearts of those who dedicate themselves to His Kingdom.

The Nova América congregation is now building a permanent meeting place. Last summer, E-TEAM members once again served and encouraged the Nova América congregation in their ministry to their community. Another short-termer preached one of the first sermons in the still roofless building.


The summer of 2015 will continue the 30-year circle. Another E-TEAM and CMP (College Mission Programs) team will help put the finishing touches on the Nova América building. I will lead the college team and tell them about God’s 30-year circle and challenge them to fulfill their own part in global ministry. By the way, that first E-TEAM of high-school students at the Nova América church has a team member now preparing to serve as a career missionary, as well.

Just as our short-term experience led us to career missions, former E-TEAM members, recent college students, and past THP (The Hanna Project) participants are now serving as career missionaries—creating their own circles. Would you consider joining this global circle of ministry and see where God takes your willing heart?


About the Writers: Curt’s passion is helping students and adults challenge and change their worldviews like his was in the summer of 1985. Currently, he accomplishes this as director of mobilization for International Missions. Mary recently earned her Ed.D from Lipscomb University and leads a nonprofit ministry, United for Hope.

©2015 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists