Read letters from Gordon and Dorothy Gatrell
Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell
Mission co-workers in Brazil since 2012 (previously 1990-2008)
Serving with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil
About Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell’s ministry
Gordon and Dorothy are helping the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil expand its witness. They aid church growth efforts, help develop plans for church planting, and train people for ministries in evangelism and church growth. Much of their training content is focused on outreach efforts in rural areas and with youth.
Brazil is South America's most influential country, an economic giant, and one of the world's biggest democracies. After years of economic boom and bust, changing currencies, hyper-inflation and foreign debt, Brazil´s economy and currency have been stable for more than a decade. Brazil has gone from being a debtor to being a creditor. Much of the arable land is controlled by wealthy landowners and international corporations, and a large gap exists between the rich and the poor. Almost three-quarters of Brazilians identify themselves as Roman Catholic, but fewer than 20 percent of them regularly attend mass. More than 15 percent of the people are Protestants. In addition to the United Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners with another Brazilian church, the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil.
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About Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell
When Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell were first appointed to serve as mission co-workers in Brazil in 1990, both already held a deep passion for the country and its people.
Gordon grew up in Brazil, where his parents, Sandy and Bert Gartrell, were missionaries for 31 years. He sensed a call to ministry early in his teen years and during his seminary studies in the United States he returned to Brazil for short-term service. He lived with a veteran missionary family and served along the Trans Amazon Highway.
“I saw Brazil through adult eyes, and not simply from a child’s perspective,” Gordon says. “God was indeed calling me to Brazil to continue my life’s work of sharing Jesus Christ.”
Dorothy also sensed the Holy Spirit’s stirrings early in her life. “As a child, I had a vision of getting on a ship and going to serve the Lord overseas,” she says. After college, she volunteered to serve in Brazil for two years as a teacher of missionary children. “There the Lord opened my eyes to the needs of the people and how many of the God-given gifts I had could be enriched and used to help them.”
She returned to the United States for further education, but she knew that she wanted to return to Brazil for long-term mission service. Dorothy and Gordon served in Brazil for 18 years until their assignment with their partner, the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil, ended.
The Gartrells are excited to return to Brazil and begin another chapter of ministry there with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil. “God has given my wife and me a real compassion and love for the Brazilian people,” Gordon says. “We want to share God’s love with them. We want to strengthen the Brazilian church.”
When Brazilians are converted to Christ, Dorothy says it ignites a deep change in their lives. “They change their lifestyles and habits,” she says. “They yearn to know Jesus and understand the Bible and its direction for everyday living. They are serious about participating in church, attending as often as possible, not just on Sunday mornings.”
Despite vast experience in church growth and evangelism in Brazil, Gordon says he has much to learn from his Brazilian partners. “I need to see what is important to them,” he explains. “I also need to be in tune with the Spirit of Almighty God to see where I fit in and what God is calling me to do.” I need to be a willing service and a learner as I enter into this new experience. I do not bring all the answers. We learn from each other.”
Gordon holds undergraduate degrees from Montreat Anderson College in Montreat, N.C., and from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. He earned his M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss. Gordon is a PC(USA) teaching elder and a member of the Presbytery of Western Kentucky.
Dorothy earned an undergraduate degree in education from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and a master’s degree in Christian education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. She is a member of Columbia Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Ga.
Gordon and Dorothy are the parents of three adult children: John, Elizabeth and Daniel.
Dorothy – March 9
Gordon – May 20