July, 1987, was an unforgettable month in the history of the work of the Lord in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. In that month, two laboring brethren were called home unexpectedly. The first to be taken was Mr. Wilfred Glenn, who had labored in the state for 17 years. The shock of his sudden home call still weighed heavily when Mr. Samuel Curran was also called home six days later. He had served the Lord in Brazil for 29 years. The loss of these dear brethren meant a one-third reduction in the number of foreign male workers on the field, leaving only four, the youngest of which was already in his mid_forties.
When these brethren went to be with Christ, two young couples were already in touch with the authorities to obtain visas to serve the Lord in Brazil. They arrived in Brazil toward the end of 1987. Their names are now well known amongst the Lords people: Mr. and Mrs. John McCann and Mr. and Mrs. Gregg Buchanan. The former is a nephew of Mr. John McCann who, with Mr. Henry Wilson, pioneered the work in this state in the early fifties. Having grasped something of the Portuguese language, these younger brethren became established in the work, and have seen fruit for their labors. John went to the large city of Santa Maria in 1990, and commenced a work there. By and by contacts were made and a little fruit was seen, so that a small assembly was formed which meets in an attractive little Gospel Hall in a populous area of the city. The work there continues, and its needs, together with those of the work in other parts of the state, receive our brothers attention.
Gregg spent his early years laboring around the Novo Hamburgo area. In 1992, through contacts, he was led to preach the gospel in the nearby town of Ivoti, where souls were saved, and after a few years an assembly was formed. This assembly meets in a building which was completely renovated by our brother and amply meets the needs of the company. He also found open doors in another town called Sapiranga, and his labors there, accompanied by other brethren, have produced fruit. A number of those who have been saved there are now in fellowship in the assembly in Novo Hamburgo. They carry on a gospel meeting and a Sunday School in a suitable wooden hall in Sapiranga. In the early part of 1999, Gregg and his wife and family moved to the distant city of Trecircs Passos. In the previous year, he made several visits to this city, and had meetings, first with Mr. Wilson, and later with Mr. Lindsay Carswell. Some were saved and the work is growing. A small hall has been built which greatly facilitates the work.
It was in 1992 that Mr. Carswell arrived in Brazil, with his wife and two boys. They spent their early days in Novo Hamburgo. Having grasped the language and acquired experience in the work, Lindsay began to labor in a neighboring city called Sapucaia do Sul. In due course the family moved to that city where they have continued, active in the work of the Lord. While caring for the work here, our brother has been active in spreading the gospel in many other parts of the state, and has had the joy of seeing the good hand of God in blessing. As is usual in this state, the work in Sapucaia do Sul is not proving to be easy, but some very clear cases of conversion inspire hope that God has a further work to do there. In the meantime most of the meetings are held in a room erected for the purpose at the rear of the Carswell home.
October 1998 saw the arrival of yet another young couple: Mr. and Mrs. James Armstrong and family. Their application for a visa to enter Brazil, was made against what seemed heavy odds, but in the goodness of God, legislation permitting them to enter was introduced just at the time their application was made. James has made sufficient progress to enable him to take part in several series of gospel meetings, and also in most of the other aspects of the work.
One year later, yet another couple arrived, Mr. and Mrs. Noel Fleck and their family. They are living in Santa Maria, and in their first weeks shared the home of John and Christine McCann. They have now rented a house and are busy in language studies.
All of these brethren seek to follow the path which the older brethren established in the work. The aim has ever been to see a genuine and lasting work done _ such a work as will conform to the New Testament pattern, bring glory to God, and be an effective testimony to His name. Mr. and Mrs. John McCann (Sr.) who first came to this state in 1950, can now only pay occasional visits. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson continue in active service, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wright spend what time they can on the field. The writer and his wife also continue in the work. There are three Brazilian brethren who give all their time to the work: Sr. Carlos da Silva, Sr. Joseacute Matos and Sr. Roberto Ploia. These brethren with their wives keep active.
Up to the present 17 assemblies have been formed in the extreme south of the country. Some of these are quite small, and none of them are very large. All of the workers highly value the many believers in the homelands who strengthen their hands in God, and whose prayers are unfailing.
The question may rightly be asked as to how the work established by those brethren who were called home has progressed in recent years. The name of Mr. Samuel Curran will always be linked with the work in Capivari do Sul. He saw the assembly formed in 1966, and labored for its growth. It has grown still further since his departure to be with Christ, and the meetings are marked by good attendance in general. In 1999, a new hall was built which replaced the old wooden one, which Mr. Curran helped to build. Gospel meetings were held in this new hall after the assembly moved into it, and on some nights over 100 people were present. At that time, some professed to be saved. These were all young people, but Mr. Curran would have known some of them as children.
Mr. Glenn went to live in San Gabriel in 1973. Very small beginnings had been made in the work there, and our brother and his wife saw that resident workers were needed. The work was very difficult in early years, but some women got saved. Through time a few men were also reached and a small assembly was formed in 1983. After Mr. Glenns home call, Mrs. Glenn continued for a number of years in San Gabriel. At first the assembly went through very difficult times, and in those days Mrs. Glenns quiet influence and example did much to encourage the faithful until better times came. A brother who had done much for the work there by his visits, moved from Porto Alegre to live there for the remaining years of his life. He was already retired. He was an untiring worker, and just when a terminal illness was about to take him home, he had the joy of seeing several younger brethren ready to take responsibility. These brethren have gone on fairly well and keep busy in the work of the gospel. San Gabriel is isolated, being a long distance from the nearest assembly. This means that they do not receive as many visits as they would like, but they have learned to go on as the Lord helps and we commend them with all the other assemblies in these parts to the Lords people for their remembrance in prayer.