In 1985 the leader of a Bible study group in the city of Belo Jardim (120 miles west) came to Recife for business.
While here, he passed in front of our School of the Bible. He was curious, so he came in to find out more. He liked what he saw and asked if someone could go to Belo Jardim and teach their Bible study group as they had difficulties understanding what they read. We were thrilled with the offer. Team members Joe McKinney and Phil Grassie went.
Over the following weeks, they made several trips there. At the end of which, 22 were immersed into Christ. Thus began the Belo Jardim Church of Christ. Our first congregation outside the metropolitan area.
Things did not go smoothly for this new group of believers. The leader had a charismatic personality and ministered tirelessly to the members. However, he accumulated authority and did not share it. Everything had to be done his way. He lorded over the congregation—this kind of leadership stunts the spiritual growth of the members.
This leader left the church many years later and started his own church, which did not follow sound doctrine. He took some members with him, but by then, many were no longer willing to follow him.
The church began to slowly develop their leadership. Thankfully, God raised up good men whose faith survived those hard years.
Today, the church is poised to establish a mature and biblical leadership. They invited the elders from Recife to go there and teach a seminar on how to choose and appoint elders.
Six of the shepherds from the three congregations that have elderships in Recife went and took turns teaching various aspects of the process. Lord willing, the church will appoint some of these good men to their first eldership in the coming months.