• Grace Baptist
    Grace Baptist We place a great emphasis on the clear proclamation of God's Word both in our worship services and Bible study classes.
  • Our Pastor
    Our Pastor Bro. Ron Harvey has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Pastoral Ministries from Mid-South Bible College and a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from Cecil C. Humphries School of Law at the University of Memphis. He practiced law for 22 years and was a Professor of Mass Media Law at the University of Memphis for 10 years. He has been our Pastor since January 1, 2012.
  • Prison Ministry
    Prison Ministry Grace Baptist Church sponsors a preaching ministry to Whiteville Correctional Center in Whiteville, Tennessee.

Letter May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

Dear Brethren:

Greetings!

Since my last letter, the Lord has greatly blessed with grace, traveling mercies, and support!

In the month of March, and through April so far, I have been in 9 churches in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Illinois, and preached at the 48th Annual Bible Conference at Beverly Manor Baptist Church in Washington, IL.

As a result of these opportunities, we thank the Lord—and the following churches—for having brought us to the $2,000/month mark as we continue to raise support: Covenant Baptist Church, Broken Arrow, OK; Coweta Baptist Church, Coweta, OK; Heritage Baptist Church, Salem, OH; and Bethel Baptist Church, Lawton, OK. Stephanie and I very thankful for the hospitality that we have been shown as we travel and visit.

Also, as regarding support, in order to assist in routing your support to our church treasurer more quickly, my pastor has asked that your mail on my behalf be addressed thusly:

Victory Baptist Church
Benjamin Gardner Missionary Support
9601 Blue Ridge Extension
Kansas City, MO 64134

The Lord has greatly blessed, as well, in resolving my passport situation. Given that I have dual Brazilian-American citizenship, I am required to renew my Brazilian passport before returning to Brazil. However, that is not quite as easy as mailing off an application and a money order, as is the procedure here in the US. Because I had never registered for the mandatory military draft in Brazil, and because I was not aware that I have been required by law to vote in Brazil’s presidential election (which, needless to say, I haven’t been doing since I left in 2001), the Brazilian government refused to issue a renewal passport until I had, as they put it, “legitimized” my legal standing on these two matters.

But what exactly did it take to legitimize my standing? Ironically, nobody seemed to know. After two months of e-mailing and telephoning the Brazilian consulate in Chicago, the responses to my questions were confusing. One source told me that I’d have to actually return to Brazil to register with the Brazilian Draft and Election Boards before they would grant me a passport (how exactly I was supposed to travel to Brazil without a passport was a question that I never had answered!). Yet another source said that I would have to show up at the Brazilian consulate in person and pay a series of fines (nobody seemed to know the exact total, but estimates varied from $300 – $550) in order to receive a renewal passport. By early March, and after being punted from a travel agency to the consulate, and then from department to department within the consulate with no satisfactory resolution, I finally decided to gather every single relevant document and simply show up at the consulate to see what could be done.

Our trip to the consulate in Chicago turned out to be rather boring (Chicago’s traffic, notwithstanding). Once at the consulate, I was asked to fill out three forms, and then the consulate clerk spent two-and-a-half hours processing the forms, before finally handing them back and indicating that I was to turn them in to the passport-processing clerk. I did so, the passport-processing clerk made various copies of the documents I had brought, stamped the copies with several important-looking stamps, and then said that the consulate would mail me my passport within three weeks—which they did!

In the end, there were no fines to pay, my absences were excused to the draft and elections boards and we are praising the Lord for His providence. In fact, the only excitement at the consulate was when, halfway through my “legitimization” process, all the consulate’s computer systems crashed, causing wide-spread dismay. Our next task is to finalize Stephanie’s visa application.

In other news, the Lord has blessed and my boss has asked me to continue my part-time work with her at the insurance agency where I have been the office manager for the last five years. So desirous is she that I remain that she has graciously agreed to work around my extended deputation trips. At this point, the Lord has been meeting our needs by means of Stephanie’s part-time nursing job and my own continued part-time work, so we are rolling our monthly support into an emergency mission travel/medical fund. When we travel to Brazil we plan to tap into it as we set up a home and launch into the work down there.

Thank you for your continued prayers! We treasure them—and the Lord has been answering them!

In Christ,

Benjamin Gardner