A letter from Tim & Marta Carriker in Brazil
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… What does that mean in Brazil? I have added a picture that reminds me of Christmas in Brazil--a basket full of fruit! Yes, in Brazil Christmas comes in the summer, and fruit is very much a part of the celebrations! May you be blessed this Christmas and in the coming year!
But, I am getting a little ahead of myself! Before Christmas comes Thanksgiving, right? Well, this year we do have a lot to be thankful for. First, we have a new granddaughter, Gabrielle, born October 8th to our daughter Jenny and Michael. She is a lovely and healthy little girl, and we are enjoying having her near us, as our other two grandchildren live so far away in Hawaii.
Second, our local church has given us many reasons to be grateful. One of them is the many new leaders including elders, deacons and cell group leaders. Their willingness to serve is amazing, and our church has attracted new families. One of them is Jucélio and Sue Ellen, who bring their little boy and sometimes other family members. We are very thankful for all of them. Tim volunteers as the co-pastor.
Third, we have been working more closely with the Evangelization Secretariat of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPIB) as consultants. We are thankful for this relationship with leaders of our partner denomination here, who are striving to make their outreach more effective by training their missionaries better and rewarding their efforts with better support. Last June I was able to see first-hand how happy they are to have better support, and many have spoken highly of the training they are now receiving.
Fourth, Tim has been working hard on the production of videos to train Sunday school teachers through the Christian Education Department of the IPIB. That involves hours of preparation for recording and many meetings. The first courses are ready, for which we are thankful.
Fifth, Tim has also continued to work on the Mission Study Bible, and I have recently joined him to review the notes of several authors. I have just finished looking at 1 and 2 Samuel, written by William Lacy Lane, a pastor and childhood friend from Campinas, now a professor in Londrina. He is a descendant of one of the first Presbyterian missionaries in Brazil, Edward Lane. His notes really encouraged me to reflect on the life of David, a king who wanted to build a house for God, and whose house was blessed by God to bring forth the Messiah.
Sixth, another project I am thankful for having participated in this year was the translation of an edited book called Sorrow and Blood, about the persecuted church. This was a project of a group I have been a part of for more than ten years, one that is involved in Member Care or the care of missionaries. Stories from Africa, Russia, Japan and other places reminded me of the wonderful privilege we have, to be able to share the Gospel freely in Brazil and in the US. The fact that that is not the case in some places should encourage us to pray for our brothers and sisters who cannot talk about their faith and to advocate for them. I believe this book will be a great contribution to the understanding of the church in Brazil about cost of following Christ paid by many, including some of the missionaries we send.
Seventh, our local church continues to support missionaries. This week we had a special supper at our house for the Missions Committee and our missionary in Mexico, Maria Helena. She told us about different people groups she has been working with. Her team is promoting the support of women of one of these groups by teaching them to make bread. The men came to ask the team to develop something for them as well. They are considering their activities and thinking about the possible crops they could encourage. Another area of focus is children, something they call the 4-14 window (because of the age group). It was wonderful to realize that God has stretched our former student, who not only speaks Spanish (even if with a Brazilian accent) but is aware of other languages and groups and is dedicating her life to serve them.
Eighth, soon we should go to Campinas for a conference for Mission Committees. Tim is in charge of devotionals on Biblical Basis for Missions, and I should speak briefly about Missionary Support. I will recommend to them a book I have found very helpful Serving as Senders, by Neal Pirolo. It encourages churches to support their missionaries through Moral Support, Logistics Support, Financial Support, Prayer Support, Communication Support and Re-entry Support. I am so grateful that we lacked none of these forms of support from you all. Thank you for your interest in us, your encouragement, your support of Tim’s education, for sending him to Brazil, for caring for our family throughout the years, for supporting us financially, praying for us and writing to us on occasion, for receiving us in your churches and loving us. Your love has been real, we love you in return. And all of this is because He loved us first.
That brings me back to Christmas. May this be a special time for each family and each church. If possible, I hope you have a white and peaceful Christmas, and we hope to be able to see you again soon because we miss you. We invite you to continue with us on this journey of mission and to rejoice with us over what God has done this year.
Marta and Tim Carriker
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