I was saved at the age of five, shortly before going to the mission field of Jamaica with my parents, Tim and Roxanne Leonard, BIMI missionaries.
When I became a teenager, I came back to the States and worked at Sand Mountain Bible Camp in Trenton, Georgia, during the summers. The Lord used this experience
in my future.
In 2004, I attended the “Heart of the South Youth Conference” where I heard a preacher give a message from Ezekiel 22:30, and that night I surrendered my life to God to do whatever He wanted. The Lord directed me to attend Tabernacle Baptist College, and after Bible college the Lord led me to serve Him in summer camp ministries.
Amanda and I were married in January 2009, and in the same year the Lord lead us to serve Him at Edgewood Baptist Church as Youth Pastor under the leadership of Pastor Jim Lilley. We have been blessed to work in the children’s and youth ministries, the music department, and the bus ministry. While we were serving at Edgewood Baptist Church, the Lord gave us two wonderful girls, Alyssa born in 2012 and Brianna born in 2013.
After first hearing about the Fiji Bible Project, I wanted to help with the Bible distribution; however, the Lord did not open that door for me. After years of praying for different projects, I felt the Lord impressing on my heart that Fiji is where He wanted us to serve Him next. On August 24, 2014, Amanda and I surrendered to serve the Lord in the Fiji Islands. We are excited to see how the Lord is going to use us in the years to come as we serve Him in Fiji.
I was raised in a Christian home and heard the Gospel preached many times. While attending a summer camp meeting at the age of 10,
I felt the Lord convicting me of my need to be saved. I realized that day that even though I was the “good girl” and raised in a Christian home, I was lost
without Christ. I finally understood I had to personally come to Christ, confess my sins, and accept His free gift of salvation. I praise the Lord I listened
to Him that day and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.
At the age of 12, I surrendered my life to serve the Lord in any way He desired. I started by helping in my local church in the bus ministry, youth choir, and various other ministries. Many summers I worked at Sand Mountain Bible Camp in Trenton, Georgia, where my grandfather, George Trask, was the director. In August 2003, I started attending Crown College of the Bible in Powell, Tennessee. During my time in college, I continued to work in the bus ministry and assisted in Sunday school classes. While in college, I felt the Lord impressing a desire for missions on my heart. After college I helped in my local church with the bus ministry, Sunday school, and children’s church.
The Lord blessed my life as a child with the friendship of Missionaries Tim and Roxanne Leonard and their children. I spent many summers attending and working at summer camp with them. In 2008 the Lord brought Robbie Leonard back into my life and shortly after we were married.
The nation of Fiji is made up of 332 islands and covers an area of 75,000 sq. miles; only 110 of these islands are permanently inhabited.
The three major islands are Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, and Taveuni. The majority of these islands were formed by volcanic activity and the islands of Vanua Levu
and Taveuni still have activity on them today. The capital and largest city, Suva, is located on Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji.
With a history of different settlements and languages, Fiji has acquired a unique culture. The early part of Fijian history is filled with warfare and cannibalism between tribes. Fijians refer to those times as “time of the devil.”
Due to the fierceness of the lifestyle of the cannibals, European sailors would not come near Fijian waters; as a result, Fiji was unknown to the rest of the world. In the beginning of the 19th century, Europeans began permanently settling the islands. In 1874 the islands were dominated by the British who began bringing in Indian laborers to work the sugarcane fields. In 1970 Fiji became a republic, but a history of racism and segregation between the Indians and the natives resulted in many uprisings from 1987 to 2000.
The population of Fiji is around 903,207 from a July 2014 estimate. The religions of Fiji consist of 7% Muslim, 33.7% Hinduism, 58% Christian (any religion that is not Muslim or Hindu), and 1.3% other. For 150 years the Methodist Church has had an impact on the government and the lives of most native Fijians. In spite of the influence of the Methodists, racism and segregation are still a part of the culture and have slowed the church’s evangelistic effort.
With the Lord opening doors in Fiji for the spreading of the Gospel through the invitation of the Prime Minister to BIMI, over 200,000 Bibles have been distributed to the school-age children. They are now in need of a Phillip (Acts 8:30, 31) to guide them through the Word of God, and as a result, many in Fiji may come to Christ.