“We’ve got five pieces of luggage between the two of us. The rest of what we own is in a storage unit.”
Owen & Leasha Barr
In 2013, two years after joining the CFBC Missions Team, Owen Barr traveled to Brazil to research a mission opportunity for Champion Forest. He spent the week serving alongside a local pastor there through a connection with the International Mission Board. Along with fellow CFBC Staff Members Lezlie Armour and Jared Richard, the team quickly came to an overwhelming sense that Champion Forest should begin a long-term partnership. Every January the past seven years, Owen led mission teams from CFBC to Sao Paulo to work with Pastor Eguinomar Souza and other Baptist efforts in the region.
Over the past year, Owen and his wife Leasha began to sense God’s call to take a step further in faith. After much prayer and seeking the Lord, it became clear that their next step was to move to Brazil.
On January 16th, Owen and Leasha boarded a plane for Brazil and will not be returning until November.
When asked what kind of emotions they’ve been experiencing leading up to departure, Owen said, “All of them. You’re excited, but then you’re terrified and a little sad, we’ve felt all of the emotions. But you know, for both of us, we came to a point where we knew we could choose not to do this, but to what end? I mean, this is what we’re called to do.”
In Sao Paulo, a lack of education and training among Brazilian pastors creates a lid on discipleship and church growth. Owen and Leasha bring a much-needed resource of ministry leadership, experience, and knowledge.
The things that you have are not just for you; they’re for you to use as a resource. Whether that’s your time, ability, or money, those are things that have been given to you to steward, not just to hoard.”
Owen’s wife, Leasha (formerly Leasha May), grew up at Champion Forest and began serving on mission trips at an early age. Her freshman year of high school, she participated in a mission trip to Columbus, Ohio. “That one was a game-changer for me. It was just something different that I’d never seen before, and the first time I felt like, ok, I want to do this. Then all through high school, I was discipled by so many people, like Cheryl (Spafford), who played a large role.”
When asked about the role her parents played in her life and heart for missions, Leasha recalled very clearly how her family modeled generosity. “I think one of the baseline principles in my family was that generosity is just part of what life is supposed to look like. The things that you have are not just for you; they’re for you to use as a resource. Whether that’s your time, ability, or money, those are things that have been given to you to steward, not just to hoard.”
“We know the culture shock is going to be huge. But what we’re most excited about is just getting to see what Jesus is actually planning. We have a vision and a vague idea, and contacts to go and start connecting with, but beyond that, it’s up to Him. It’s been pretty clear that He is orchestrating things in His way. It doesn’t matter if you understand them or whether everyone else understands them, if He’s working, then it’s good. God’s playing a very long game. This specific thing is not something we would have ever picked years ago. But everything up to this point has been leading us here, even if it wasn’t apparent along the way.”