Rev. Dr. José Carlos Pezini
Odete and I are grateful for everything God has done in our lives here in Brazil. We are still in the process of readapting to our native land, as many things have changed during the sixteen years we have been away. But by the grace of God we are well and happy because we know that this is the will of God for our ministry.
The second part of the year was very busy. I traveled from place to place teaching, mentoring, coaching, and training pastors who are planting new churches. These hard-working pastors are tired, and some of them face burnout. They are crying for help and are humbly eager to learn so that they can be fruitful in their ministry.
In September I went to Guarapuava, a few hours from my city of Curitiba, to teach about new church development for pastors from two different Presbyteries. There were about 22 pastors and 12 elders present during these two days of training. It was a good experience. The questions and discussion showed me they want to practice what they heard. During September, I also participated in a conference sponsored by the Brazilian mission organization, SEPAL. I met with friends of The Outreach Foundation - Oswaldo Prado, one of the directors of SEPAL, and Jairton de Mello, a SEPAL missionary.
In early October I traveled to Belem, in northern Brazil, to visit David and Dorothy Gartrell who are PC(USA) missionaries. They are trying to plant a new church of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil in that city. It was a good time of encouragement and prayer with them. From there I went to Rio de Janeiro where I spent time with an Independent Presbyterian Church new church development pastor, the Rev. Rafael Viana, who is planting a church among middle-class people. I have been mentoring him for about one year. He is a young and energetic pastor and is doing a great job. In Rio de Janeiro I also taught a class on new church development for a group of D. Min. students from Fuller Theological Seminary. I was so pleased to see the excitement of the students about what God is doing in Brazil in the area of church planting.
In mid-October I participated in a conference on spirituality with a ministry called the Sisterhood of Mary, which is located in Curitiba. It was a time for prayer and meditation before my next flurry of activity.
From October 22-31 I hosted a couple from Zionsville Presbyterian Church, Steve and Kay Wright, who were visiting the Gaucho Project, a church planting project of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPIB) in the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul. We started the visit in Sao Paulo with a courtesy call on the headquarters of the IPIB. There we met the Moderator, the Rev. Aureo Oliveira. We then went to all the cities where the IPIB is starting churches. We met the missionaries, heard about their work, and had a time for leadership training with the leaders of the church in Passo Fundo, whose pastor is the Rev. Fernando Lyra, and see the building in construction. On Saturday the 27th, we met with leaders of the church. I taught about leadership, and Steve and Kay gave excellent testimonies about discipleship.
As the Wrights returned to the U.S., I went to Campinas to participate with a ministry called CTPI that trains church planters. For two days we conducted an assessment for twelve potential church planting pastors plus spouses. It was a privilege to serve with this group of pastors. One senses that they are at the forefront of a movement in Brazil that will launch many, many new churches.
In November I spent time with a new church development pastor facing burnout and spoke at the mission conference in a local church before going to the national conference of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil, “Proclame.” The theme was “Being and Making Disciples.” It was my privilege to translate for the keynote speaker of the event, the Rev. Glenn McDonald. Having my colleague from The Outreach Foundation, Jeff Ritchie, present at the conference was an encouragement to me. We spent a couple of days together before and after the conference.
From the conference it was on to Portugal, where I participated in the graduation ceremony of a Leadership Training Program and taught in a seminary and a Bible Institute on church planting and ministerial excellence. My host, the Rev. Alex, shared that Portugal is in great financial straits that are affecting churches as well. Since 1998 more than 300 churches have closed, and many pastors have left the country in order to survive. We need to pray for them.
Returning home in early December I went to Florianópolis, Santa Catarina to give three days of training for the pastors and leaders from the southernmost presbytery of the Independent Presbyterian Church. Again I saw the humble eagerness to learn on the part of those pastors. What a blessing that time was.
In addition to all these ministry trips I still mentor eighteen pastors on a weekly basis through Skype. Every week other pastors ask me to mentor them. In order to serve them better, I am working on material to help them in a group format. I am planning to have three or four retreats next year with various groups. I hope in this way I can answer the great demand.
Dear brothers and sisters, these are some of my activities here in Brazil since September. I praise God for his grace and love that he would use me as an instrument in his hand and for his glory. I also want to thank each one of you for your support. Without your support it is impossible to continue my ministry here in Brazil. I am glad to serve as part of The Outreach Foundation family. God is an amazing God.
P.S. I will be in the United States from January 14-February 10. I hope to see some of you while I am in the country, and thank you in person.