From Brazil to Weymouth

If you know Latin Link, you’ll know we are all about multidirectional mission. God calls workers into his harvest field from everywhere to everywhere!
Since 1999, the Incoming Mission ministry of Latin Link has received and supported many Latin Americans on Stride and Stay placements, serving with churches in the UK and Europe. It’s a vibrant and growing trend in mission, which excites us a lot!
Meet Lelmer and Renata Campos, who (along with their children) have worked with Latin Link in Weymouth for the last five years. We sat down with Lelmer to ask about his experience of cross-cultural mission in Dorset.

What’s your role?

I am the Pastoral and Community Worker at Ebenezer Evangelical Church (EEC) in Weymouth, Dorset. I’m responsible for pastoral care, visiting, and supporting church members, especially young people and newcomers. I’m also part of the preaching/teaching team and responsible for child and youth ministry in the church.

Renata, my beautiful wife, is involved in the parent and toddler group and Sunday School teaching, and is also a member of the pastoral team.

Why mission in the UK?

Since my conversion in 2005 I had a strong sense of calling into full-time ministry, specifically as a mission worker in the UK. In the subsequent year, I met Renata, during a mission trip organised by YWAM in Brazil. She shared the same calling!

So in response to God’s call we went to Bible College to start theological training in 2007, married in 2008, and graduated in 2009. We first came to the UK in 2011, sent by our home church to study English and look for mission opportunities.

Then we joined Latin Link’s Incoming Mission programme as Stride members in 2014, placed at EEC. In regards to our calling and present ministry, I believe nobody puts it better than the apostle Paul:

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

We believe God designed for us to be here, so we’re in the UK as a response to his sovereign will for our lives.

Do you feel you’ve made an impact?

I feel incredibly privileged to be part of the leadership team at Ebenezer church. In many ways, I’m building on the work of those who served before. The church has an amazing history of faith and mission (over 100 years) and I’m trying to be faithful to what they are entrusting me to do now.

It’s been wonderful to see different areas develop – I’ve seen young people take their first steps of faith, and had the privilege of baptising four new people since joining the church. In the last five years, I’ve also seen an increasing desire in the church leadership and members to connect with the unchurched and reach out to our local community.

This is my passion and I believe that Ebenezer is going through an organic transition – from isolation and inwardness, to becoming a missional community in Weymouth, joining with Christ in his mission to ‘seek and save the lost’ (Luke 19:10).

How has the experience affected you?

Serving in God’s mission is a life-transforming experience! And serving in a cross-cultural context has challenged my worldview and enriched my life greatly.

I work alongside the elders and I’m always learning from their many years of experience in leadership, pastoral care and the teaching of God’s word. I’m thankful for my time of formal training for ministry in Brazil and in the UK, but serving alongside godly men and women in the local church has made a great impact in my life of faith and on my personal discipleship.

Their love for Christ and his Church has been instrumental in confirming my calling and has increased my passion for the local church.

Any final thoughts?

Give it a go! Latin Americans are playing an important role in world mission today. With the growth of evangelicalism in Latin America, there’s an increasing concern for the decline of Christianity in the West.

To be honest, the old view of mission as being only ‘from the West to the rest’ really is obsolete now! The centre of gravity has shifted to the global South, where churches and mission organisations are trying hard to mobilise and train mission workers to serve in Europe – a tough and needy mission field.

The good news is that the growing trend of Latin Americans serving the western church is adding passion and devotion to the churches where they serve. So I’d say – give it a go!

Grateful and glad!

Lelmer and Renata were first introduced to us as a young married couple by The Pais Movement, to work with a schools team in Weymouth and Portland, and with us at Ebenezer Evangelical Church. After two years, we employed them as full-time workers in the church. This was a new experience, to have Latin American missionaries working with us. We praise the Lord that it has been a partnership that has worked well, and Lelmer and Renata and their family are very valued members of the church, and are using their gifts that the Lord has given them to serve. We are very grateful too for Latin Link, who have helped both us and the family (especially with government legislation and administration matters). Without their help this may not have been possible. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad!’

Gordon Peach, Church Elder

This interview was first featured in Latinfile Autumn 2019. For more Latinfile, click the button below.

Latinfile Autumn 2019