After long lockdowns, South African church appoints its first deacons
SOWETO, South Africa — Joyful hymns filled the meeting place…
Christians in Curitiba, Brazil, celebrated the realization of a 30-year dream recently as the congregation appointed three elders, six deacons and three evangelists, said missionary Alan Nalley.
Vilmar Bucco, Jose Carlos Sottomaior and Luis Silva will serve as elders of the congregation. The church’s deacons are Gilberto Castanheira, Pedro Jory, David Penna, Marcos Siqueira, Maurício Bini and Fernando Dias.
Mauro Francisco and Cicero Balbino already were serving as evangelists supported by the Curitiba church, Nalley said. Ramos Costa will join them as a self-supporting evangelist.
The Curitiba mission had its genesis in 1981 at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Missions instructor Bob Waldron taught students there and “opened their eyes to the billions of lost souls worldwide that needed to hear the Good News about Jesus,” Nalley said. Waldron, a former missionary to Guatemala, now serves as director for research and global planning for Missions Resource Network.
In a chapel presentation at Bear Valley, Gary Sorrells, then a missionary in São Paulo, Brazil, talked about the need for workers there. Sorrells represented a ministry called Brazil Break Through, which later became Continent of Great Cities. Sorrells now serves as the ministry’s director emeritus.
Four families committed to work in Curitiba, a city of 2 million souls: Ron and Georgia Freitas with sons Tony and Ronnie; John and Sherena Langley with son John T.; Alan and Ree Nalley and Rod and Linda Nealeigh and their children Miranda, Darci and Jordan. The team set goals of evangelizing the city and “establishing a strong missionary church, with its own building, centrally located, easily accessible and with its own biblical and Brazilian leadership,” Alan Nalley said.
In a report, Alan Nalley gave an overview of the work’s history:
Today the Curitiba congregation has 354 people. This assembly has its own building, which seats up to 1,000. The Brazilian congregation started a preacher training school called the Bible Institute of Southern Brazil in 2005 and has had three graduating classes. This institute was a two-year, full-time school during four years. Today it offers classes once or twice a week for the further edification of the congregation and training of future leaders.
As a result, two new congregations have been planted by the central congregation in Curitiba. One congregation is a half-hour drive away in the Sitio Cercado neighborhood, surrounded by more than 200,000 people. The second congregation is a three-and-a-half-hour drive to the interior, in the city of Guarapuava, with 200,000 in population. Fifteen years ago the Curitiba church helped restart a congregation in the interior of the state in the city of Maringá that had shut down. Today it is a healthy and growing church in that city of 357,000 people. The central congregation in Curitiba is self-supporting. It supports a full-time secretary and two full-time evangelists and their families.
Each family worked in Brazil far longer than their initial five-year commitment. The Langleys returned to the U.S. after 12 years in Brazil. Two of their children were born there. John Langley now serves as outreach minister for the East Point Church of Christ in Wichita, Kan. (I traveled with him to Zimbabwe in 2006 to report on a work East Point supports — Nhowe Mission Brian Lemons Memorial Hospital.) The Langleys’ son, John T., is youth minister for the Tamarack Road Church of Christ in Altus, Okla.
The Freitases stayed in Brazil for 15 years. Ron Freitas is an associate director for Continent of Great Cities and Georgia Freitas oversees the ministry’s missionary women’s training and support program.
The Nealeighs stayed in Brazil for 23 years. They are scheduled to return to the U.S. this month.
The Nalleys plan to stay in Curitiba, where they will continue to work with the Bible institute. They also will “provide a mentoring relationship for the Curitiba leadership, help with new church plantings, lead an evangelistic small group … and continue to share the Good News in Curitiba and all the places God leads,” Alan Nalley said.
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