Deanna and I got home from our honeymoon. That same week we went to our pastors and told them we were ready to be sent out as missionaries. “Wait a year. You just got married. Enjoy life and learn how to live as a married couple.” We appreciated the council and we thoroughly enjoyed those twelve months. The year was over on a Tuesday. We went to our pastors again. We felt called to Mozambique. They gave us the green light to start taking steps in that direction. Over the next weeks the Lord clearly told us in different ways we were not to go to Africa at this time. “Africa will not be what you think at this time.” I remembered a two-year-old issue of Equipping the Saints magazine. It talked about Vineyard churches in the Amazon. I knew the people of Mozambique and the Brazilian Amazon both spoke Portuguese. I talked to Luke Huber and he agreed to train Deanna and I to learn to plant Portuguese-speaking churches in a tropical developing-nation environment. After 10 years Luke said he would help us lead a team of church-planters to Mozambique. That was our plan, but life turned out differently. Luke died in an airplane accident nine months after we arrived in Brazil.
- 1991 – We (Rick and Deanna) were married. We wanted to be missionaries in Africa.
- 1992 – We (Rick and Deanna) went to Perspectives, in Pasadena CA, and felt called to Mozambique.
- 1993 – The Lord clearly called us (Rick and Deanna) to Brazil. We planned to go for 10 years.
- 1995 – Elba came to work for us while she went to Grade 11 high school.
- 1996 – Elba moved 500 kilometers with Clenildo, Angelita, and us to the Xingu River Basin.
- 1996 – We started the Xingu Mission, and we started planting Vineyard churches in Altamira. Our goal was to start a church-planting movement that would grow to 1,000 churches as a first step, and then to pray about next steps.
- 1996 – We gave our Mozambique dream back to God, trusting that He would show us when the time was right to move on. We did this because we were a new, untested, start-up mission, and we wanted to send the message that we were committed to starting a mission in Brazil, and to starting a church-planting movement that would outlast us.
- 2008 – We moved to Marabá to start a new sending center.
- 2017 – “Yesterday we (the Brazil Vineyard churches) became family with the Mozambique Vineyards!” Elba spoke these powerful words as she opened her speech to the General Assembly at the African Vineyard Leadership Network (AVLN, pronounced Avalon) Conference.
- 2017 – We (Rick and Deanna) are still working towards our goal of helping Brazilians start 1,000 churches. There are now 42 Vineyard churches, 55 Vineyard church plants, and 6 churches in the adoption process in Brazil, counting all the churches in Southern Brazil. The movement is growing. Deanna and I are starting to travel more within Brazil to equip church-planters.
Who could have guessed how this would unfold? Prophecy is like a winding trail on a steep mountain range. If you try to go straight from Point A to Point B, you cannot. But if you stay on the winding trail, when you get to Point B you will recognize is as a marker that you are on the right path.
We also connected with the Angola Vineyards during the AVLN conference. Both Mozambique and Angola speak Portuguese as their main language which makes sharing resources easy. Brazilian worship music and our translated and written material will be a valuable resources these African nations, and they will also share resources. Bernardo from Mozambique, for example, is helping to develop a free App for smartphones that has Bible translations, and allows pastors to upload their sermons so people out of town can listen to them.
Church leaders from Mozambique meet with leaders from the Brazil churches. Savimbi (far left) has been very instrumental in planting many of the 60 Mozambique Vineyard churches. His own church of about 200 people does not have electricity yet.
Angelita (Clenildo’s wife) listens to Katarina (Savimbe’s wife) tell about their church of 200 members that does not have any electricity yet.
Leaders / Partners from Vineyards in Mozambique, Angola, Brazil, and the USA (and Deanna and I from Canada) get to know each other. It is much easier to work together as you develop personal friendships.