Category Archives: brazil

90 days to Fortaleza!

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Exactly 90 days from today, December 2, 2015, we will arrive, Lord willing, at our new assignment at the Expositors’ Bible School in Fortaleza!

Founded by a team of Brazilian pastors, the Escola Bíblica de Expositores (EBEx), will launch in January 2016, in order to equip Brazilian pastors in solid biblical preaching.

Diego Ramos in his Senior Testimony at
The Master’s Seminary in 2014
Click to watch online (6 min.)

Diego Ramos, EBEx academic director, originally contacted me last March, to ask if I would consider serving as an adjunct professor for the seminary. Elsiene and I prayed and replied that the 2300 km (1400 miles) between Goiânia and Fortaleza was too far for me to be of much benefit for EBEx—but that if they were willing and invited us, we would gladly consider moving our family to Fortaleza to help launch the new seminary.This is how we took the first step towards our new ministry assignment here in Brazil. Now Elsiene, in addition to the normal day-to-day care of our family, is packing for our big move, and making arrangements regarding the house that has been in her family for 40 years—our home since 2010.

I am preparing may class on Hermeneutics, i.e., “How to Interpret the Bible.” EBEx has 10 prospective students for January 2016, most of whom will have already had basic Greek. However, if there are students arriving without Greek, I’ll teach the introductory Greek class. I will also be sitting in on the Greek Syntax class, taught by Diego Ramos, with a view to teaching that myself in the future.

Pastor Jenuan, seminary president, just sent me an e-mail to let us know they are working on temporary accommodations where our family can stay upon our arrival until we find something more permanent.

A few weeks ago, via Skype, I met Pastor Humberto. In addition to serving as administrative director for EBEx, he also heads up a non-profit publishing ministry. Among other titles, he has acquired rights to translate and publish John MacArthur’s Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, which we will use as one of our text books at EBEx.

Skype Conv w Pr Humberto

Skype with Pr. Humberto

With every interaction with our new team, and as the day grows nearer, our eager anticipation grows as well. Please pray for us as we prepare. One of our principle concerns regards our house in Goiânia. Please pray that God would provide a good renter for us.

We’ve had a number of fits and starts as we try to make the best arrangements regarding our property in Goiânia. Thus far, it has been somewhat discouraging, but Tuesday Elsiene’s step-father brought a friend of his in real estate. Though I didn’t recognize him, Julio recognized me from our sons’ school, where his son studies in the same 3rd grade class as our son. We explained to Julio our upcoming move to Fortaleza and he gave us a realistic orientation of what we can expect regarding our house.

(Rent collected from our house in Goiânia may only cover a third of what we will probably need to rent in Fortaleza. Furthermore, we ought to budget for 2 or 3 months while repairs are being done on our house in Goiânia before it begins to generate an income toward our place in Fortaleza.)

After Julio left, Elsiene and I thanked the Lord for this connection through her dad and figured we’d probably ask Julio to help us manage the house. An hour later Julio called back to say the Lord had put us and our ministry on his heart and he returned to bless us with several armloads of groceries!

The Lord encouraged us greatly through Julio’s heart of generosity. In our ministry in Brazil, we live on faith that where God guides, God provides.

As we anticipate our move from Goiânia to Fortaleza, we are trusting the Lord to meet the following financial needs:

  • We need to close a gap of about $1100 in monthly support.
  • We have about $10,000 in one-time expenses related to our move including, e.g., air-fare for the family; either shipping or replacing household appliances and furnishings; and first several months’ rent.

For our family, $1100 per month and $10,000 in special needs seems like a considerable amount. But if out of every 10 persons who receive this letter, even one new person joined our support team at, for example, $50 per month, our monthly support need in 2016 would be met.

And if 2 persons out of every 10 were able to give a special gift of $200, for example, in September, October or November, the expenses related to our move would be met.

Would you please pray that God would provide for us as we move and begin our new ministry in Fortaleza?

And would you prayerfully consider how you may be able to partner with us financially at this time through monthly or special gifts of any amount as the Lord leads and enables?

As we bring our financial need to you, we are sensitive to the fact that many of you already support our ministry as well as others. We are therefore all the more grateful.

Thank you so much for your friendship and your partnership with us, and your dedication to the Lord’s work.

In Christ,

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,

Action International Ministries

P.S. To donate online, please click to the gift tool at ACTION.

If you’d like to download a PDF version of the EBEx brochure in English, please click here.

February 4, 2015 Newsletter

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In Brazil, they say, everything depends on whom you know. I suppose anywhere in the world, most opportunities come through your “network,” but in Brazil, this is especially true.

Out of our conference last August, we formed a group of pastors who meet for prayer. The long-term strategy is that these relationships and the churches represented will produce new leaders for training.

Our Pastors’ Group

Through this pastors’ fellowship two near-term opportunities have arisen:

  • Dennis recently graduated from a seminary in Anápolis, an hour outside Goiânia. The leadership of the school are emphasizing a new graduate-level program in biblical exposition, and invited me to teach. Unfortunately, not enough students enrolled in the classes to launch the program this year. The school will regroup and try again next year. I’ve let them know I’m also available to teach hermeneutics, theology or Bible survey.
  • Roberto B. is a young pastor who invited Leo to our last pastors’ meeting. Leo is with Pregue a Palavra (“Preach the Word”) a like-minded ministry also concerned with equipping Brazilian pastors in biblical leadership and expository preaching. Leo, though not from Goiânia, is gauging interest in forming a group of pastors here to be equipped in expository preaching.

I’m in conversation with both the seminary and Leo about how we might work together toward our common goal of strengthening the church. Sadly, because of unbiblical preaching, many churches in Brazil are filled with people who are like “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14). But we are encouraged because true believers “long for the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2), and there is a growing desire for biblical preaching.

Therefore, we thank the Lord for the seminary in Anápolis and for Leo from Pregue a Palavra. Please pray with us that God would continue to awaken a hunger for His word in Brazil, and that He would be pleased to use us and these like-minded servants of Christ to equip “pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12).

Our next conference in Biblical Counseling is scheduled for June 29 to July 1, with guest speaker Dr. Robert Somerville. For most of our ministry partners, “Pastor Bob” needs no introduction. Pastor of Visalia Evangelical Free Church from 1980 to 2005, he now is a professor in the Biblical Counseling department at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California.

In our last newsletter, we asked you to pray that our speaker’s book could be translated and published in Brazil in time for the conference. Dr. Somerville has written If I’m a Christian, Why am I Depressed?, and we’ve asked him to address the topic of depression from a biblical counseling perspective. Dr. Somerville’s book would add great value to our conference, but we don’t have the “know how” to translate and publish it ourselves.

Again, in Brazil, it’s all about who you know. Pastor Jenuan is a pastor from the northeast of Brazil. I first met Pr. Jenuan a number of years back at a Shepherds’ Conference, and again more recently at a meeting in 2012 at The Master’s College where Jenuan had arrived to complete a degree in Biblical Counseling. Separately from our invitation to Dr. Somerville, Pr. Jenuan contacted him to express interest in publishing his book!

Frankly, I can’t imagine a more qualified person to oversee the publication of Dr. Somerville’s book in Brazil. Last week, the director of the publishing house contacted me, saying he’d like to attend our conference in person to launch the title—and he’s going to bring a group of pastors from his network, too! Praise the Lord with us for this specific answer to prayer regarding the publication of Dr. Somerville’s book! Please pray for us, for our church here, and especially for Dr. Somerville as we all prepare in many ways for this conference: that the Lord would be glorified, saints edified, and lost saved!

In other news, our own local pastor Roberto leaves this week to attend a Biblical Counseling training conference in Lafayette, Indiana. In his absence, I’ll be preaching February 15. As always, I appreciate your prayers for my preparation and the clear proclamation of God’s Word.

We praise the Lord for you, whom we regard not merely as our “network,” but our very own family in Christ and co-laborers in this work of the ministry!


Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,

Action International Ministries
Google Voice phone: (559) 372-9098

Kinda makes my hair stand on end…

On May 6 Brazil’s president Dilma gave an address on television. I didn’t watch it, but this is the discontented reaction from apartment dwellers in Goiânia’s Setor Bueno, the upper-middle class neighborhood where our church and our son’s school are both located. (Our own home is about 4 miles away.)

Brazil has the World Cup in June and July, and national elections in October.

When you think of us, pray for the gospel in Brazil, and that God would cause righteousness to prevail.

April 18, 2014 Newsletter – Resurrection Sunday Edition

Safari_404_error Easter bannerDear friends and family,

When was the last time you celebrated because you did not find what you went hoping to find?

This is the unusual case for the women who sought the Lord Jesus in the grave, but the angels who met them there greeted them with far better news: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6)

When I sat down to write this letter, I went looking for recent photographs and found that the memory card in our camera failed. What I went hoping to find, I did not find. I assure you, my first reaction was not celebration.

I’m still bummed that we lost some pictures, but I am rejoicing that Jesus was not where he was “supposed” to be on that particular Sunday morning. Hallelujah, we serve a risen Savior!

On Sunday April 6, as we were leaving for church, I pulled Elsiene aside and shared my heart with her: “Today is one of the most important days of my life,” I said.

She returned my gaze, just a little puzzled, so I explained, “After the moment of my salvation, the day of our wedding, and the births of our children, today is the most important day of my life, because it is my first regular weekly teaching engagement in our missionary career.”

Until now in Brazil, I have had occasional invitations to teach and preach, but now for the first time I am teaching in Portuguese each Sunday. I have a class of about ten recently baptized new believers from our church that I am taking through a fifteen week introduction to the Christian faith. I am really enjoying teaching, and I think the students are enjoying the class too–if their questions, and the fact that some have recruited friends or family members are an indication.

Elsiene is indispensable to me in our classroom. She considers it part of her ministry to provide a snack for the class, but she also bails me out when I draw a blank in Portuguese and can’t find the word I need. Also, after I explained to her how important the Sunday of our first class was, she recorded the event on our camera to share with you… unfortunately, you now know the fate of those digital photographs. Please pray for our class, that God would increase my facility to teach in Portuguese, and that the members of the class would also grow in their knowledge of God and of His word.

In other news, Pastor Roberto and I continue to work on the Gospel & Action Center for Leadership (“CL” for short). We will officially launch the CL at the biblical counseling conference with Dr. Lou Priolo in August. I have no experience as an event coordinator, but by virtue of my English, I have become the point person for all of our guest speaker’s travel arrangements and conference schedule. Please pray for this event, that God would be pleased to use it in the life of the Brazilian church to foster greater confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture.

We have one other special concern we’d like to request your helping us in prayer. On the property next door to our house, a clothing manufacturer applies chemicals to blue jeans just over our back fence. Most weekdays we live with the “schpffft-schpffft” sound of a worker spraying chemicals on fabric. Legally, this chemical treatment must take place inside an enclosure. Instead a masked worker sprays the chemicals in the open air right on the other side of an old fence from Elsiene’s kitchen and our children’s play area.

We have spoken with the owner of the property about building a higher wall, but he is unwilling to do so, and we can’t proceed without him. The last time we expressed concerns about the airborne chemicals, the manager told us they were moving “next week”. That was three weeks ago.

The manager also told us if they moved and took their guard dogs, “thieves” would come through their property to get to our property. It occurred to us that this neighbor might even arrange for thieves to visit us. He has demonstrated that he is fine with operating outside the law, so we are fearful what might happen to us if we “whistle-blow” on his illegal jeans factory.

Please pray fervently that God would protect our family in safety and good health and soon provide a solution for the unpleasant situation that exists between us and the illegal jeans factory next door.

God encourages our hearts daily through your prayers for us. Thank you so much for partnering with us in ministry in Brazil.

Serving our Risen Savior,


Matthew & Elsiene Carroll
Action International Ministries
Goiânia, Brazil

The Seeds of our own Destruction

Today is Shrove Tuesday, and many Brazilians are celebrating Carnival.

Plenty of Brazilians who don’t celebrate Carnival head for the hills. Literally. Many churches take advantage of the fact that children have days off from school, and sponsor youth camps over the long weekend that will end tomorrow.

Our family didn’t go on a camp, but we did head for the hills. Well, actually we climbed just one.


On our little hike we encountered a unique tree. Elsiene’s uncle pointed out that at the center is a palm tree. A bird dropped a little seed within the top of the palm tree and the plant that grew from the seed is now dominating and strangling the palm.


Kinda beautiful… unless you were the palm tree.

Martin Luther is credited with saying about temptations, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

This is a picture of what happens when the birds nest, because they drop the seeds of our own destruction.

Luther employed the metaphor of birds. James used the language of a fish that is lured to take the bait on the hook:

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” (James 1:14-16, ESV)

Do not be deceived. Beware the little temptations.

In Real Terms

In the past six months, the exchange rate between the US Dollar and the Brazilian Real has shifted 10% in favor of the Real.

According to Google Finance, on November 26, 2010, USD 1 = BRL 1.728.

Today, April 26, 2011, USD 1 = BRL 1.564.

To put that in different terms, consider the following. In Brazil, the maximum daily limit on a cash withdrawal from an ATM is BRL 1000.00. If I had gone to a Brazilian ATM last November and withdrawn BRL 1000.00 from my US checking account, that would have registered a withdrawal in the amount of USD 578.70.

Today, withdrawing the same amount of Brazilian Reais would register a withdrawal on my US account in the amount of USD 640.02.


What Are They Doing With The Church?

At a pastors’ conference last November I picked up of book entitled, What Are They Doing with the Church?: The Rise and Fall of the Brazilian Evangelical Movement (Mundo Cristão, 2008). The author, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, is a Presbyterian pastor and chancellor of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University. The material of the book originated in large part from posts at the blog O Tempora, O Mores, which the author shares with two of his colleagues. From among the titles presented at the conference bookstore, I selected this one with two criteria in mind: First, I wanted to read something that would help me understand the church in Brazil. Second, I wanted to read something published originally in Portuguese, not translated from English. There is little point in me wrestling in Portuguese to read what already exists in English.

I hope, when finished to write a proper review of this book, but since I can usually only read when waiting in line, for example, at the bank, that may be a while in coming. So for now, here is a snippet I found valuable:

In chapter five, “Myths of Pluralism,” Augustus Nicodemus levels a critique against pluralism as embraced by theological liberals, neo-orthodox and libertines. He distinguishes between empirical pluralism, which merely recognizes that God has created the world with a magnificent display of diversity of cultures and ideas, and philosophical pluralism, which denies the existence of absolute truths, and asserts that contradictory truth claims may be equally valid at the same time.

Pluralism as an acknowledgment of diversity is a good thing, but Augustus Nicodemus lists nine difficulties he finds with pluralism as a worldview.

I translate here difficulty #3:

The concept of absolute pluralism is internally inconsistent. The affirmation, “there is not one right idea, but many,” can be understood as just one of these many ideas, relative and therefore not valid for everyone at the same time. I find it interesting that the defenders of pluralism are unanimous in defending the existence of pluralism and the non-existence of absolute truths. Strictly speaking, unanimity is incompatible with pluralism. If everyone agrees that there is not one right idea, but many, and truth is dependent upon the point of view of each individual, this unanimity is already an exception to the rule (p. 45).
[View original blog post from 24 February 2007.]

Unanimity is incompatible with pluralism. This is to state the obvious, it arises from the very definition of pluralism, but it is also the Achilles’ heel that invalidates the whole philosophical system.

Seminary and Beyond

Wow, a lot has happened lately!

For starters, after six years in seminary, I finally graduated! Thank you to so many of you who encouraged us and prayed for us along the way. It is a great feeling to be done with this significant chapter in life, and I am extremely grateful for the training I have received while here.

Secondly, many of you may recall an e-mail I sent out at the end of March listing several potential options for us following graduation. Our main choices were an internship at a pastoral training center in Fortaleza, Brazil, or (1400 miles away) seeking secular employment in order to live near Elsiene’s family in Goiânia.

As the Lord would have things, the internship opportunity in Fortaleza did not materialize, but a dear friend contacted me with another idea for ministry. Thomas Smoak was my high school principal, athletics coach, and Bible study leader when I was growing up in Lomalinda, Colombia. In my life, he is a mentor and a hero.

Thomas is now the Brazilian national director with ACTION International. Thomas and his family live in São Paulo, where they have a ministry rescuing street children. Also part of ACTION is PLD (Pastoral Leadership Development) a ministry that provides training and resources to otherwise untrained, poor pastors. PLD reaches all over Brazil, but their main base just happens to be located in Goiânia—seven miles down a country highway from Elsiene’s house where her father and grandfather still live!

As you can imagine, we are very excited to have discovered this ministry where I can put my own seminary training to good benefit, and we can live near Elsiene’s family at the same time. We have begun the process of formally applying to ACTION in Brazil.

Thirdly, in other news, Elsiene and I have recently learned that we are expecting our third child, due in February 2011! We are thankful to God for His blessing. All the same, we ask your prayers. With our first two pregnancies Elsiene suffered severe nausea, and this pregnancy so far appears to be following suit.

It is still unclear what our schedule might be for joining ACTION in Brazil, and how our pregnancy will affect these plans, but we invite you to rejoice with us for all these developments and to pray with us for God’s will in our application to ACTION and for the health of Elsiene and our new baby.

Blessings in Christ,
– Matthew