We hope this finds you all well. We would like to wish you all a very blessed 2021. First some family news: We moved into our new apartment in September after some delays, we have settled well and are grateful for God’s provision for us as a family and to finally have our own place. We also adopted a rescue dog. He is called Sully, has one eye and is a Yorkshire Terrier.
We enjoyed a restful Christmas period, with Katia’s mother visiting us, at the end of what can only be described as a very tiring year, with the stresses and strains of leading a church through a pandemic and the stress of overseeing building work in the apartment.
Joanna, who turned 11 in January, and Davi, who will be seven in March, are now starting back at school in person after almost a year of school online. We look forward to re-establishing our routine as a family. Do continue to keep us in your prayers. Pray that we would thrive as we serve Jesus here, maintaining a balance with ministry and family.
Here in Florianopolis, COVID numbers continue to be high yet stable and most things are functioning with restrictions. It’s estimated that more than one in five people here have had COVID, and we have had 404 people die of COVID in the city. By and large people have learned to live with the pandemic, vaccination has started, with health professionals and those in nursing homes being the first to receive vaccines. It will take a while for all those in the priority group to receive the jab.
Do keep Florianopolis and the rest of Brazil in your prayers as the country tries to balance public health and the economy.
As a church we continue to meet, following local government guidelines. More people are now coming back to church, though we continue to simultaneously broadcast the service online. Our meetings together have been precious times, with the Holy Spirit moving in our midst. Most of our small groups have started meeting in person again, some using the church building to give more space for social distancing. One group aimed at more elderly members of the church has an open air meeting. We have seen the importance of fellowship and how those who are not in fellowship have struggled more during this time. May God give church leaders around the world wisdom.
Some highlights since our last newsletter have been restarting our evangelism. At the end of October the youth group went out onto the streets with some of the keen older evangelists in our church to share their faith and offer prayer. We saw many people touched including two teenagers who were healed, one who had broken his foot early this year and was in constant pain and another who had a severe headache. Both were pain free after receiving prayer and visibly very moved by what had just happened. Their whole group of friends received prayer.
In January we had a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) team from the US spend a few days with us. We went out to the beach and the local area to share Jesus with tourists visiting from other parts of Brazil. There were many who invited Jesus into their lives. The US team also ministered in two of our services, giving me (Jimmy) a break from preaching. We also had the national director of the Vineyard Church, Milton Lucas, come and visit our church and greatly encourage our church family.
We are currently gearing up for the New Wine Discipleship School, which will run from March until July. There will be teaching on a wide range of topics and opportunities to serve in different areas of ministry, aiming to train and equip those on the course to serve Jesus as lifelong disciples. On this inaugural course we are going to open the school up to older members of the church, as we imagine many who take part now will help with the school in future and many over-thirties in our church are keen to go to the school.
Please keep the school in your prayers. We are excited about training up the next generation of leaders and people to be influencers for the Kingdom of God in different sectors of society.
We have also formed a mission team, responsible for discerning together where the Lord is leading us as a church in our outreach and championing mission and evangelism among church members.
We are also in a phase of restructuring our church leadership team and how we function, developing more teams. Please pray for wisdom and for the Lord to shape our church community.
Our plant in Sao Jose, in the wider Florianopolis area has reverted back to the small group stage, as we couldn’t sustain renting a building for the congregation. Many church plants in Brazil have had setbacks during this time. The small group in Sao Jose has started meeting again this year and we are praying for God’s direction and more people to join the plant.
We hope to be back in the UK for our home leave towards the end of the year, but everything depends on COVID restrictions in the UK as we want to visit our supporting churches in person next winter.
Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.
Jimmy, Katia, Joanna & Davi