“I’ve been called by God as a shepherd-teacher,” says master of theological studies student Rodrigo Justino. “The formation I receive from MB Seminary will enable me to think in new ways to improve the leadership training of our denomination.”
Justino is one of this year’s beneficiaries of the Global Scholarship Fund, established in 2010 by ICOMB (International Community of Mennonite Brethren) and Multiply (then MB Mission) to equip institutions and students in less-resourced countries for leadership in their national MB conference.
ICOMB equipping coordinator Vic Wiens calls Justino, “a conference-endorsed trainer of church workers among the rapidly growing churches in Brazil.”
After graduating from seminary in November 2020, Justino plans to build up the Brazilian MB family (COBIM) by pastoring, teaching in the MB seminary in Curitiba, and serving on COBIM’s boards.
This year, the Fund awarded 151 collective scholarships to schools, training centres, and conferences in the areas of theology, medicine, and mission, and 10 individual scholarships to students at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
“Life in B.C. is extraordinarily expensive for a family of five, and our income would not pay the tuition,” says Justino. (He and Marissandra, a Kindergarten teacher, have 3 children.) “We are so thankful for the Global Scholarship Fund and for the people we don’t even know who made this fund possible.”
A burden for the health of leaders
Baptized at 12 in a São Paulo church of more than 1,000, where he felt like “one among a multitude,” he did not receive discipling. In 1991, at a smaller MB church in his new home of Diadema, Brazil, Justino discovered he didn’t have much to say about his beliefs.
A church leader mentored him for nearly a year. “I came to understand I was a sinner and desperately in need of a saviour.” He was rebaptized in 1994.
The Diadema church sent Justino to Bible college from 1996–2000, and, after graduation, called him to pastor them. He went on to co-pastor Comunidade Crista das Boas Novas (Good News Christian Community), an MB church in São Paulo, Brazil, for 12 years. He has been a trainer and leader at Brazilian Bible schools and on outreach in Brazil and Mozambique.
As Justino met with more and more MB pastors, he became aware of the need for leadership training in Brazilian churches. “I am concerned to see a stronger denomination and filled with the conviction that the spiritual health and maturity of a church is heavily linked with the spiritual health and maturity of its leader.”
A time of refreshing
Since arriving in Canada in December 2016, the Justino family has attended North Langley Community Church. “From them, we have learned more about what it means to be a Christ-centred community,” says Justino. “At NLCC, it means trying to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and faithfully – with joy.”
Having felt the signs of burnout since 2013, Justino is grateful for his family’s pause from formal ministry to “refresh our souls and become disciples again as members of a church,” while earning his master’s at an Anabaptist school.
“The ways God has been present, blessing our journey with good friends and a good church, have confirmed that this was the right decision.”
To support the Global Scholarship Fund or learn more, go to www.icomb.org/education.