Jim and Mary Moreland
"Being a P.K. (Preachers Kid), the church was always an important part of my life, and so following high school I entered Ozark Bible College in 1956. I was among those who decided at the 9th National Missionary Convention at Joplin to go to the mission field. Throughout school my interest continued to grow in missions." Jim and Mary Moreland's interest in missions led them to go to Brazil, South America as missionaries.
James Elbert Moreland was born to Elbert and Ruth Moreland in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 12, 1936. His primary schooling took place in various states, with high school in Globe, Arizona. During his first year at Ozark Bible College, Jim worked with the underprivileged people in the north part of Joplin, Missouri. Later he started preaching for the Antioch Christian Church near Pomona, Missouri. While there, Jim met Mary Emily Baker, a busy Sunday school teacher and night supervisor at the Cristian Hogan Hospital in West Plains.
Mary was born to Ancil and Ethel Baker in Pomona, Missouri on March 10, 1936. She received all but the first two years of her primary and secondary schooling in the Pomona-Willow Sprints, Missouri area. In 1954 she entered nurses training at Kansas a City General Hospital, graduating in 1957. She became a registered nurse in Missouri in September, and returned to her home where she was active in the Antioch Christian Church. She enrolled at OBC in January of 1958, and in the summer she worked in Western Mexico helping in VBX and carrying on extensive first aid and medical work among the Mexican people.
Jim and Mary were married in September of 1958, and served the Phillipsburg Christian Church in Phillipsburg, Missouri until they started raising support to go to Brazil. The Moreland’s: Naomi, who is is now in Ozark Bible College; Deborah, who plans on starting Bible college this fall; Phillip; and Miriam. Except for brief times while in the States, the children's schooling has been done in the Moreland Home. The Moreland’s have also taken in Brazilians, one of whom, Ruth Silva, graduated from OBC in 1978 and is now working in the Araguaina area.
Jim, Mary, and Naomi arrived in Belem, Para, on the southern bank of the Amazon River, on February 1, 1961. After Deborah was born in May, the Moreland’s moved to Macapa where Marlin McNeil had asked them to take over the Amazon River Evangelism he had started. Macapa is on the equator, 200 miles from Belem, on the northern bank of the Amazon. They worked with the two churches in Macapa and the people on the river islands.
In 1965, Jim and David Bayless made a trip south along the new Belem-Brasilia Highway. It was very dry, dusty, and hot, so they stopped at the place called Nova Olinda to get something to drink. After meeting some of the people there and in the town of Araguaina, they determined to return and hold an evangelistic meeting in the area. Five missionaries cooperated in the meeting, and then in May of 1966, the Moreland’s moved to Araguaina. Churches were started in homes and later moved into larger buildings.
During their first years in Araguaina, the Moreland’s had to supply their own means of mail service, sending by trucks or bus to Belem, 900 kilometers north, or by small aircraft to Carolina, Maranha. Roads were either very dusty or very muddy. Electricity was a promise used by politicians; TV and telephones were only something interesting to talk about. Later electricity, TV, and telephones came to what is now the most important city in Northern Goias -- Araguaina.
In 1973, Bill Moreland, Jim's brother, arrived in Araguaina with his family to help with the work and has continued to the present time there.
Early in 1975, Jim Sturgeon, Dale Mason, Harry Scates, Erskine Scates (from Intermountain Bible College) and Jim Moreland made a trip on the new Trans-Amazon Highway which cuts through thousands of kilometers of virgin jungle. They traveled 1,000 kilometers west from the Belem-Brasilia highway over dirt roads and across log bridges where "civilization" pushes west. In 1977, Norman Maddux went with Jim as far as Santarem, Para and Itaituba, Para. Then in September, the Jim Moreland Family moved to Itaitube, Para to start working in another pioneer area along the Trans-Amazon highway.
Itaituba, Para is a crossroads area on the Trans-Amazon highway near where the newly-built Santarem-Cuiaba road cuts south across the jungle. There are more than a dozen places in town that deal only in buying gold brought in on the many flights of small aircraft from mines in the jungle. The Moreland’s deeply felt the need of showing these people the true riches of life in Christ Jesus.