Dear Praying Friends,
We continue to be amazed at how God is working in spite of pandemic limitations. As you probably know, the coronavirus is still raging in many parts of Latin America and Brazil is no exception. Schools are mostly closed. Social distancing and mask wearing are still required. YET we continue to be blessed with many opportunities for ministry.
Building Relationships During Lockdown
Being stuck at home has had its advantages since we've been able to build friendships with several of the workers in our apartment building. Dan asked permission from our building manager, to meet with them for a weekly devotional and prayer time. Sidney not only gave permission, but gave us the use of the large, airy living room that is part of the building’s shared public space. He, himself, attends these weekly meetings along with three custodians and an elderly resident. It brings us great joy to introduce these friends to God’s Word, especially to those who have never read it before. Dan started a study on Ruth recently and Eliza is asking many questions. Her sister’s cleaning lady “just happens” to be a Christian and heard about Eliza’s new-found interest; she promptly gave her a book to help her understand what she is learning. We praise God for how He is drawing these dear friends to Himself.
FM Seminary Continues to Expand
We have written before about how our seminary enrollment has grown during the pandemic. Hope just completed another module of Theology of John Wesley and was thrilled with the number of students (over fifty of them) and their desire to grow in knowledge and faith. One student wrote at the end of the semester: “You’ll never know how gratifying it was to be in this class. Studying Wesley’s sermons drew me closer to Christ. Every assignment spoke to my heart.” Music to a teacher’s ears! Please click here to read more stories of our record-breaking year at the Free Methodist seminary.
One of the teachers is Free Methodist pastor, Marlon Marques, who is a gifted writer and speaker. He has published several books about Wesleyan theology and recently received a scholarship to study in a masters program at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. The classes will be online and in English so please pray for him to have good understanding. Ask the Lord to use Marlon to strengthen the Church through his speaking and writing.
So Much to Be Thankful For!
In addition to acting as academic coordinator at the FM seminary, Dan continues to teach and preach. Hope is thrilled to be teaching inductive Bible study and is also involved in developing a Sunday school curriculum that will be used in Free Methodist churches throughout Latin American.
Thank you for your prayers and sacrificial giving that make all this possible.
For His glory and our joy,
Hope & Dan
Dear Praying Friends,
We arrived back in Brazil a month ago and have been getting settled little by little. It has been a joy to be involved in several conference-wide events and to reconnect with ministry colleagues. We praise Him that after several weeks of looking, we have finally moved into our apartment. Hope wrote about the stress (and benefit) of waiting here.
Mardi Gras Youth Camp
Last weekend we attended a camp with 85 pre-teens. We were asked to encourage and instruct the camp staff through daily Bible studies. It was a privilege to work with so many youth and adults who are pouring out their lives for the Lord.
Pray for the continued growth for the campers who gave their lives to Christ.
Seminary in the Spotlight
Two weekends ago Dan was invited to speak at the commencement of our Free Methodist seminary. We loved hearing student stories of how God used their classes to spur them on to deeper faith. Pray for the Lord's continued leading in their lives.
Dan and Hope are meeting with FM church leaders about upcoming changes in our seminary curriculum. Pray that we'll have godly wisdom in implementing these changes.
Thank you for partnering with us!
We are thrilled to be back in Brazil and look forward to all the Lord has in store for us. Thank you for your love, prayers and giving that keep us going. If you would like to contribute toward our missionary support, you can do so at this link.
For His glory and our joy,
Dan and Hope
In the past, Central sent a team to Brazil and worked with Dan Owsley in Petrolina. See their most recent email update here: The Owsley Chronicles.
Federated Republic of Brazil
Area: 8,511,965 sq km, one-half of the land surface and population of South America. World's fifth largest country in both area and population.
As of 2010: 210.1 million
Capital: Brasilia, 3,904,918
Other major cities: Sao Paulo, 20.3 million; Rio de Janeiro, 12 million -- 18 other cities with at least one million
Brazil is a melting pot of nations with much intermarriage and blending of the many immigrant ethnicities. Most Brazilians have at least some mixed ethnic heritage.
European: 50.2% including the world's largest diaspora populations of Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and German
Mixed race: 38.0% Mestizo and Mulatto
African: 6.4%, mostly descendants of slaves brought from West Africa
Asian: 5.6% including the largest Japanese population outside of Japan -- 0.7%, Jews and Chinese
Amerindian: 0.41% - 275 indigenous tribal groups speaking 185 languages. Only 700,000 tribal people remain
Official Language: Portuguese
A total of 193 languages are spoken, including 181 indigenous languages.
Vast natural resources combine with a large labor force to create an emerging economic superpower, especially in agriculture. One great challenge will be to increase agricultural space without traumatizing the precious Amazon and Pantanal ecosystems -- stewardship v exploitation.
Catholic - 72.79% of population
Protestant - 16.34%
Independent - 12.42%
Orthodox - 0.09%
Marginal - 1.54%
Fmc in Brazil
The Brazilian FMC saw significant growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2003, the Brazilian conference became a provisional general conference and elected their first suffragan bishop, Jose Ildo Swartelle de Mello. In August 2004, the Brazilian Provisional General Conference reorganized with five annual conferences. This conference was recognized as a General Conference in November 2007. A church planting strategy is targeting the national capital Brasilia. Missionaries Dan and Hope Owsley are assisting in this work.
Parallel to the Brazilian General Conference, the Nikkei Annual Conference has continued to grow its ministries in Brazil and around the world. Although at one time, the Nikkei Conference was uniquely focused on persons of Japanese descent, its churches now look very much like Brazil with diverse membership. The Nikkei churches experience steady growth year after year.
Outreach to the World
The two Brazilian conferences have sent missionaries to Portugal, Italy, Hungary, a creative access country, East Timor (Indonesia), Equatorial Guinea, Venezuela, and the Suruwaha tribe in the Amazon Rainforest. Furthermore, the general conference oversees a mission district in Angola. The Nikkei Conference connects with Japanese-descendent churches in Paraguay, Peru, and Argentina.
Brazilian General Conference
Nikkei Annual Conference
Challenges for Prayer
Endemic corruption and cronyism
Poverty still affects tens of millions
Crime is a serious problem
Brazil is a spiritually open country
Numerical rather than spiritual growth is an emphasis
Prosperity theology is shaping much of Protestantism
Effective appropriate training is key to the above
Indigenous Amerindians have endured centuries of prejudice, oppression, massacre and exploitation, which continue to this day by encroaching woodcutters, gold prospectors and ranchers. Their unique cultures are disintegrating through despair, disease, substance abuse and suicide.