Four years ago, the Lord gave Jim and Julie Leonard an idea: What if the vacant land adjacent to the Cariri Seminary could be used as furlough housing for Brazilian missionaries? The Leonards teach at the seminary, located in Crato, Ceára, in northeast Brazil. A growing number of graduates have become missionaries, and the seminary campus is centrally located to their support base.
The Leonards’ idea became the OASiS, a support center for furloughing missionaries that includes housing and a place to store their belongings. Two buildings now stand, and a third is being constructed. Over the past two years, the OASiS has housed Brazilian missionary families who serve in the Cape Verde Islands and in Gambia. The facility has also housed a Romanian pastor ministering in the area, and short-term workers from the US. One worker was a young lady from the Leonards’ home church in Minnesota, who recently spent several months at the OASiS helping with the work.
The Leonards and their Brazilian colleagues have found OASiS to be a win-win situation. It’s a partnership with Brazilian churches that are sending out their missionaries, and it builds a stronger bridge between missionaries and the seminary. Missionaries staying at the OASiS, near the seminary campus, have the opportunity to influence students’ lives for missions. The missionaries can also participate in the weekly missions prayer band, the annual missions conference, as well as contribute to the missions classes. They can also take refresher classes to prepare them to better serve upon their return to their fields.
Currently, Brazil’s economic crisis is making it difficult for the churches of Brazil to support and send additional missionaries. The Leonards and the churches are praying that this situation will be reversed and that the churches can increase the number of missionaries sent around the world. Even with the economic downturn, in 2016 Brazilian churches sent out first-time missionaries to three new fields: Argentina, Bolivia, and Madagascar. They join the ranks of missionaries already serving in Columbia, East Timor, Gambia, India, Mozambique, Portugal, and Venezuela. When the need arises, the OASiS has space to build more housing units and be a further blessing to Brazilians fulfilling the Great Commission.