This is the place to find the most updated information concerning Missionary John Leonard. Most recent post are written by the family themselves.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

News - Missionary From Iowa Shot In Brazil

News Article from The Des Moines Register:

Missionary from Iowa shot in Brazil

July 10, 2005

An Iowa Baptist missionary was clinging to life in Des Moines, where he was flown Saturday, after alleged assassins shot him several times July 3 outside the Brazil church he founded.

John Leonard, 45, of Creston was unconscious and believed to be paralyzed from the neck down at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, said the Rev. Pat Nemmers, pastor at Saylorville Baptist Church, which financially supported his mission.

Nemmers said that shortly after Leonard finished his sermon, two men approached and asked to speak with him. Outside the church, they fired several shots at him from close range, hitting him in the face, arm and back. Leonard, an ordained Baptist minister, has been a missionary for two decades in Brazil where he planted several churches.

"This was clearly a hit that was put on him," Nemmers said.

William Smallman, vice president of Baptist Mid-Missions, an Ohio-based mission agency to which Leonard belonged, said "it is exceedingly rare" for such an attack on a missionary. The agency has 180 missionaries stationed in Brazil, which is generally tolerant of people spreading a Christian message.

Smallman speculated that organized crime leaders arranged the shooting. He said Leonard was working to rehabilitate drug addicts and as a result of that, drug dealers may have believed that he had information that they didn't want him to know.

"It clearly was something that was targeted at John as a person," Smallman said.

Nemmers speculated that the attack may have been a backlash to Christianity from other religions.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia., and his office helped arrange Leonard's transportation to the Des Moines hospital. Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine said she did not know whether a U.S. government agency is investigating the attack or whether it is being categorized as an assassination attempt.

Leonard slipped into unconsciousness after six days in a Brazilian hospital miles from the remote town in the coastal state Alagoas, where he was working. A bullet is still lodged in his arm and bullet fragments remain in his neck, Nemmers said.

"While John is not a foreigner to Brazil, the message he brought was foreign," Nemmers said.
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