A letter from Tim Carriker in Brazil
We work with the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPCB), a 110 year old Brazilian denomination. It is growing both internally and externally. Internally, there is an increasing concern for pastoral care, continuing education of pastors, leadership development and revitalization of congregations. Because of that, I am supervising the continuing education program for pastors and developing a new online learning program that will serve a number of needs, beginning with the equipping of Sunday school teachers.
Externally, there is 1) both a renewed commitment and search for new and effective models of church planting, 2) courageous engagement in world mission through sending Brazilian missionaries, 3) and partnerships within Latin America and in Africa. For example, concerning the first of these, many churches are forming their congregations in small groups as a vital strategy to facilitate more intimate relationships with non church members. In our own local congregation now, a third of those who worship have been a part of our church life for less than a few years. Concerning the second, this denomination now has missionaries not only in the Northeast “Badlands,” the Amazon River basin and among gauchos in the south, but also missionaries in the Near East, southern Africa, Bolivia, Madagascar and the U.S.A. Finally, the IPCB, for some four years, has been further expanding its global outreach through partners with churches in Ghana, Egypt, and Argentina. Both Marta and I work closely with the Secretariat for Evangelization, which has been working hard to revitalize churches, plant new ones in different parts of Brazil and send its own missionaries to these places mentioned above.
I hope all this does not sound too “institutional” to you. Just a few weeks ago we both participated in the denomination’s Pastor’s Congress, designed as a continuing education event. Attendance was over 1,300: pastors, missionaries, and their families. And although, as part of the organizing team, I was troubling aware of a jillion glitches in the event, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. No doubt, a strong and healthy church makes for a church with something to share in the world!
Also, last month I traveled some 800 miles to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Evangelical Mission Center we helped to organize and where we taught for some eight years. How exciting it was to renew bonds with former students and teachers who have ministered literally all over the world as agronomists, evangelists, nutritionists, engineers and teachers. There, one of our students, Valdecir, shared not only his experience as a missionary in Angola for several years, but his organization, as well, of his own Baptist missionary training center. For more than a decade, this center has been training missionaries and sending them to Africa and training African church leaders to return to their countries better equipped. Luciney also shared her ministry over the last few years, denouncing child prostitution and working with various Christian and governmental agencies to reduce prostitution tourism.
I cannot express how rewarding it is to look back over so many years and see first hand the fruit of these ministries. Thank you for your support and for making this possible over the years. Only through long-term and broad (support of the whole PCUSA World Mission program) commitment can we make the most lasting impact in mission.
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