The Phoenix Takes Flight

New church plant starts from ashes of another

On July 29, 29 people gathered on a second floor patio in Campo Grande, Brazil, to worship, pray and  study God’s word. Led by Thiago Lehmam, a 21-year-old computer engineering student, more than two-thirds of the group was young adults with the dream of starting a new church out of the remnants of their old church.

Three guest pastors pray over the Phoenix Church at their July 29 worship service, asking for God's blessing and direction.

Eight months earlier, the Free Church that these young Brazilians attended closed its doors when its pastor left. Unable to find a church that both felt like home and aligned with their beliefs, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

“Everything ‘began again’ one afternoon when we talked together and the question was raised: ‘Why don’t we start our own youth group?’” Thiago says. “And why not? One beautiful characteristic of our group is that we seem to have limitless creativity, young people with incredible gifts, and youth who know that they have a strong calling from God.”

Meeting weekly for more than five months now, the group is slowly making the transition from youth group to church plant. They call themselves Phoenix Church, aptly named for the mythological bird that is reborn from the ashes of another.

“We are working together to grow, both spiritually and in term of numbers, and we dream one day of having our own space, with services on Sundays, and a ‘more trained’ pastor leading and helping us to grow,” Thiago says.

Steve, an EFCA ReachGlobal missionary, attended the July 29 meeting and came away impressed with these young adults, many of whom came to know Christ several years earlier through the Brazilian Free Church’s summer English Camps.

“They realize that the responsibility is on their shoulders, and they’re taking that on with full conviction,” Steve says. “They didn’t ask any of the visiting ‘pastors’ to bring the Word. They didn’t ask for a dime for anything. They led us in an evening before the Lord.”

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Contact us to find out how you can serve in Brazil — individually or with a team.

  • For God to lead these young adults in planting the Phoenix Church.
  • That the youth in Brazil would continue to experience the life-changing power of the gospel and that they would help spread the gospel throughout the country.

News Update: Pastor Johny Writes From The Flood Zone

Pastor Johny Stutzer, church planting secretary for the Evangelical Free Church of Brazil and an EFCA ReachGlobal Latin America ministry partner, feels fortunate that the flood damage to his church was relatively minimal.

Although the water rose to 4.5 meters (over 14 feet) in some parts of the church, a group of church members worked together to move everything to the second floor of the building just as the flooding began on September 8.

Many others were not as fortunate.

“We arrived in a poorer region… an entire neighborhood completely inundated with mud,” Johny writes.

His team from the church went to help at the home of an elderly widow, Leonora, and her daughter-in-law. They were trying to clean out their home and salvage whatever possessions they could.

“When we arrived with a team carrying brooms, squeegees, a submersible pump, and buckets, her eyes lit up and she said: ‘You are the church…I just went there!'” Johny writes.

“In the midst of our cleaning we talked, consoling her and offering counsel. [Leonora and her daughter-in-law] saw in our volunteers the Lord’s love as we worked,” Johny shares. “It was difficult to create a mountain of mud, furniture and personal items in front of her home — the ‘history’ of this woman — but she was impacted by our attitude.”

“In the middle of the afternoon, with everyone dirty, wet, and muddy, all of a sudden we were praying with her as she confessed her sins and asked Jesus to come into her life. A small home, with most everything destroyed by the flood, now had a new shine — the presence of God began a new work there because of the impact of the love of God in action.”

Keep up with the latest recovery efforts at

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  • For Pastor Johny and his church as well as ReachGlobal missionaries who have traveled from Rio de Janeiro to help with the recovery efforts.
  • That the people of Rio do Sul — an area that has been resistant to the gospel — would have their hearts and minds opened to the truth of the gospel.
  • That not only the immediate physical needs but also the spiritual and emotional needs of the people would be met.

Make an online donation to Brazil flood relief efforts.


News Update: Brazilian Partners Respond to Flooding

In Santa Catarina, the southernmost state of Brazil, flooding and landslides have affected nearly 1 million people in 96 cities throughout the region since September 8.

TouchGlobal Crisis Response and EFCA ReachGlobal are working with the Evangelical Free Church of Brazil (CIELB) in Rio do Sul to mobilize relief efforts. A mission field is born in the wake of every crisis, and the CIELB expects to not only provide for the practical needs of the people, but to minister spiritually to the victims of this natural disaster.

Keep up with the relief effort on the TouchGlobal Crisis Response website and find out how you can support the efforts through praying or giving.

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  • For the CIELB, ReachGlobal’s partners in Brazil, as they respond holistically to the affected people.
  • That more funding would be sent to help our Brazilian brothers and sisters respond to this need.
  • That Jesus will be exalted by those responding in this crisis.

Make an online donation to Brazil flood relief efforts.