LAST FALL, MY WIFE ASKED ME to help her plant 240 tulip bulbs. It was a beautiful day, and I thought I did a good job preparing the new flowerbeds with my rented tiller. Winter has come and gone, and I am waiting to see how many of those 240 bulbs will bloom. The packages Mary bought had beautiful pictures of “Holland” tulips. You’d think if a guy named Holland planted Holland bulbs, the outcome should be great.
The Bible says you reap what you sow. I believe this. But when you are sowing, you sometimes wonder how much of your seed will bear fruit and the kind of quality you will receive.
When we went to Campinas, Brazil, for our second term of missionary service, we didn’t know what to expect. We had not planted a church, but we knew how one looked on the package (the Bible). In 1958, Dave Franks and Ken Eagelton, Sr., chose this growing city to begin the ministry of Free Will Baptists in Brazil. Forty years later, the Lord used seven new converts from the original FWB church to help plant a seed in the São José neighborhood of Campinas.
The São José ministry moved from evangelistic Bible studies to a preaching point in a member’s garage, as we continued to teach and train these willing believers to reach their friends and neighbors. After showing The Jesus Film in June of 1998, the small group began to see fruit for their efforts. By December, the group stepped out on faith and rented their first facility.
The São José “tulips” continued to produce year after year. In September 2001 the São José congregation moved into their first church building. In May 2002, they ordained Osmír as their pastor. He had been saved after the 1998 showing of The Jesus Film. In July 2002, I preached my final sermon in the São José Church. I gave Osmír my Bible and wrote my life verse on the first page: “That which you have seen and heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou also to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.” We made a mutual commitment to fulfill this verse in our lives.
Currently, it is “spring time” in Campinas. The bulbs we planted over a five-year period (1997-2002) have not only come up, they are proven perennials. The São José church began to multiply themselves shortly after our departure in July 2002. Pastor Osmír asked two couples in the Nova America neighborhood to pray about starting a Bible study in their home. This home Bible study led to a growing group of new converts that began to reach out to their neighbors and family members. The Nova America Mission began in November 2003 with their first rented building, under the leadership and guidance of the five-year-old São José church.
ABOVE (left to right): Pastor Lucas (First FWB Church, 1958); Pastor Osmír and convert (São José FWB Church, 1997); Pastor Paulo Cesar and wife Ana Paula (Nova America FWB Mission, 2003); Alcemir and Claudia (Ouro Verde FWB Mission, December 2005)
In November 2005, the Nova America Mission celebrated its second year of ministry with the ordination of their first pastor. Paulo Cesar was ordained to lead the mission congregation on November 6. He and his wife Ana Paula were two of the original seven who helped plant the São José church. The Nova America Mission is now in their second rented location and they continue to grow. This congregation will soon organize and become the third church in Campinas. The churches plan to form a new FWB association.
Alcemir and Claudia’s home was used to begin the São José church in 1998. Pastor Osmír was saved in their garage. Today Alcemir and Claudia are the leaders of a second mission church started by the São José Church. In December 2005, eight couples were sent from the First FWB Church, the São José Church, and the Nova America Mission to begin this newest work in the Ouro Verde neighborhood of Campinas. This newest work meets in a rented building on the major avenue that divides the neighborhood. More than 150,000 people live on each side of this avenue.
The churches in this growing city have learned how to multiply themselves. Just as tulips must overcome the cold, snow, and even moles in our yard, these new churches and new converts will face challenges as they continue to grow, bloom, and multiply.
Missionaries Curt and Mary Holland are currently stateside. Curt returns to Campinas occasionally to teach in the Bible institute. The couple hopes to return to Brazil in the future. For more information about Free Will Baptist missions work in Brazil, visit the website at: www.fwbgo.com.
new converts will grow and mature into strong leaders.
present leaders will continue to seek the Lord’s wisdom in their ministries.
the Lord will continue to open doors for future churches and outreaches.