Category Archives: newsletter

July 17, 2015 Newsletter: Conference Report

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Eric and Barbara are a young couple in our Fundamentals of the Faith class. On a Monday in May Eric sent me this message:

Yesterday after class, we met Barbara’s mother for lunch. We showed her the “bridge illustration” you gave us and explained God’s plan of salvation. She listened very attentively. In the evening, we met her again for dinner, and she said, “I’ve been thinking all afternoon about what you told me. I want to become a Christian!”

Over the next couple weeks, Barbara’s mother Elizabeth met with Pastor Roberto who responded to her questions and explained again in detail what it means to believe in and follow Jesus Christ. Elizabeth publicly professed faith in Christ and was baptised June 14. Now part of the body of Christ, she attends worship with her daughter and son-in-law.

with Elizabeth

Pr. Roberto, Eric, Barbara, Elizabeth and Matthew

 

Our joy over a lost sinner brought by God to salvation and new life in Christ is immeasurable. And we marvel how it is through your prayers and support that we are here, that we had the opportunity to equip a young couple to share the gospel, that this young couple immediately took the lesson to heart and did so, and that the message fell upon ears that heard and a heart God had prepared to respond in faith!

Our Fundamentals of the Faith class concluded just before two back-to-back conferences. June 19 to 21, for our church’s 14th anniversary, Andrew Rogers, counseling pastor at College Park Church in Indianapolis, brought a series of messages from 1 Thessalonians on the character of the ideal church. Then June 22 to 25, Andrew Rogers addressed our second annual Biblical Counseling conference, presenting biblical principles for helping people overcome depression.

Translating for Andrew Rogers

Translating for Andrew Rogers

 

Our church loved Andrew and his wife Jenny. About 150 people, including a number of pastors from other local churches attended the counseling conference.

A few testimonies:
Pr. Edvaldo with Pr. LuisOne pastor in attendance, Edvaldo (at right with Pr. Luis), told Andrew:

I thank God that you are not ashamed of His Word, or of Christ. I am a pastor, though I am retired now. For 50 years I pastored a Baptist church. My son signed me up for this conference and made me come. I am so glad I did. It has been a long time since I heard anyone teach the Word like you. I stopped attending conferences like this because they would all say, “Freud this and Freud that.” And I would shout, “Not Freud! Jesus!” I am encouraged to find someone who stands firm on God’s Word.

Gunther hosts a Bible study in his home. He told Andrew: “Thank you very much! This material is so good. My wife and I are already sharing it with others who were unable to attend.”

Abigail helps lead a Bible study for women who have gone through divorce. She said: “I was a pastor’s wife, but my husband separated from me two years ago. I’m not depressed, but it hurts. This conference is helpful to me personally. Thank you!”

So thank you for praying for us, for Andrew and Jenny Rogers, as well as for everyone who attended. It was a wonderful time in the Word.

Jenny and Andrew, Matthew and Elsiene

Jenny and Andrew, Matthew and Elsiene

 

In an update before our conference, we requested prayer that the translation and printing of Dr. Somerville’s book would be completed in time. Unfortunately, we would have needed an extra week. When the publisher realized the rush job on the book wasn’t going to make it, he took it back for further revisions. If I’m a Christian, Why am I Depressed? is now expected out at the end of August. Though the timing didn’t work out as we had hoped, the final product will be better, and I know this book will be a valuable resource for the church in Brazil.

Thank you once more for your partnership with us in ministry. By God’s grace, because of you, the lost are hearing the gospel and coming to faith in Christ, new believers are being discipled, and pastors and leaders are being more fully equipped to minister God’s Word to the church.

To God alone be the glory!,

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,
Action International Ministries
BrazilCarroll.org

P.S. In July, my parents arrived to spend some time with us and to meet our youngest. The last time we saw my parents was over two years ago. It has been very good to have them with us.

at the "Feira da Lua"

At the “Feira da Lua”, a nighttime street fair

May 1, 2015 Newsletter: Big News!

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Cesar* dropped in for an unexpected visit last week—he says he feels terrors at night that rob his sleep. In his teens, he has one uncle who takes him to catechism classes at the Roman Catholic Church, and another uncle who takes him to a church where the pastor wants to perform an exorcism on him. Cesar is confused. He asked about our church and what I thought he should do. Beginning with the definition of the church as a “called out” people, called by God and purchased out of slavery to sin by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, I presented to him his need to turn from his sin and trust in Christ for salvation.

The next day, Cesar returned and we studied from Scripture who God is, what is man’s position before God, what has Christ accomplished, and that sinners must repent and believe in Christ to be saved. Cesar nods that he understands, and follows up with more questions, but it appears that he is still looking for certain works he must perform to earn God’s favor. Please pray for Cesar, that God would open his spiritual understanding to grasp and to love the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ!

Our biblical counseling conference is coming up, June 22-24. In our February letter we announced our guest speaker would be Dr. Robert Somerville. Unfortunately, Dr. Somerville had to cancel his travel plans to Brazil. In his place, the Lord has provided Andrew Rogers, pastor of counseling at College Park Church in Indianapolis, to take Dr. Somerville’s place as our speaker. Originally Dr. Somerville was to speak on “Depression,” and we were to feature his book (already at the publishers!). Andrew Rogers is not only prepared to keep the same theme, but is also eager to give Dr. Somerville’s book a hearty recommendation! We praise the Lord for his provision, and are delighted to receive Andrew and his wife Jenny as our guests in Goiânia in June!

Big move coming up!
In March, Elsiene and I received an invitation to join a team of Brazilian and American pastors and missionaries opening a new seminary in Fortaleza, Brazil. The Escola Bíblica de Expositores (“Expositors’ Bible School,” abbreviated EBEx), will begin offering classes in January 2016.

The seminary president, Pastor Jenuan Lira, and academic director, Diego Ramos, have an excellent line-up of visiting instructors to rotate in to teach modules. Elsiene and I are invited to move to Fortaleza so I can serve as a member of their resident teaching faculty. Our local and international leadership enthusiastically approved us to move to Fortaleza to help launch EBEx while continuing with Action International Ministries. Our goal is to move our family from Goiânia to Fortaleza end of this year to help launch this new seminary to train Brazilian expositors of God’s Word.

One aspect of the ministry in Fortaleza important to me is the goal for EBEx to become a member of The Master’s Academy International (tmai.org), a fellowship of pastoral training centers around the world united by a common doctrinal perspective and approach to ministry. To join TMAI, one of the requirements is that there be at least two graduates of The Master’s Seminary on the faculty. EBEx already has one graduate from TMS, academic director Diego Ramos, and I will be their second. My participation will thus facilitate EBEx’s admission to the TMAI family of schools.

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Diego Ramos, Jenuan Lira, Bret Laird (representing TMAI) and I.
The Master’s College, January 2013

Another strength of the ministry in Fortaleza is it does not depend on me to launch the whole effort from scratch. Over the past two years, I have grown to where I am now teaching and preaching regularly in Portuguese. Together with Pastor Roberto, we have established an annual biblical counseling conference. (For 2016, we have confirmed Dr. John Street, and at a separate event, Dr. Tedd Tripp.) Out of our conference, we drew a group of pastors that meet for prayer and encouragement. But for the next stage in forming a seminary, I sorely felt my own lack of experience and was praying for a colleague to share the load and expand our skill set.

Then came the invitation from EBEx president Pastor Jenuan who, in addition to many years as a pastor and professor, also has experience leading a seminary. Between Jenuan and Diego, they have already assembled a strong seminary faculty. In fact, EBEx already has 10 prospective students ready to begin studying Hermeneutics, Hebrew Grammar, Greek Syntax, and the Fundamentals of Expository Preaching. By joining forces with EBEx, we will benefit from the strength of their team, and (by God’s grace) bring a valuable contribution as well. I am scheduled to begin in January, teaching Hermeneutics, i.e., “How to Interpret the Bible.”

I wish to make clear we still depend upon your prayers and gifts through ACTION. In order to move to Fortaleza to join EBEx, we need to be fully-funded for ministry. Now more than ever, we urge you to support the training of pastors in Brazil through your prayers and gifts to us at Action International Ministries!

Thanking the Lord for your partnership with us,

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,

Action International Ministries
BrazilCarroll.org

* “Cesar” is a pseudonym.

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!

Love,

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,

Action International Ministries
Matthew.Carroll@actionintl.org
Google Voice phone: (559) 372-9098
BrazilCarroll.org

November 25, 2014 Newsletter

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What gratitude is ours because of you!


Pastors’ Fellowship

Out of our conference in August, we formed a group of pastors who meet for prayer. Already as a result of the meetings two different pastors who were on the verge of quitting the ministry renewed their strength. In our September prayer letter we asked you to pray for “Daniel” who was tempted to give up because of a Diotrephes on his staff. He reports, “Things have improved, and I am searching my own heart to see if perhaps I was making things out to be worse than they are.”


Preaching at “Daniel’s” church

Another pastor reported: “I had been feeling like Elijah in the cave [1 Kings 19:9-10], and had given thought to quitting, but since our last meeting God showed me that there are other pastors here serving who are serious about God’s word. Now my burden of ministry seems so much lighter. I’ve been fairly singing as I go about my work!” It is out of these relationships and the churches represented here that we will begin to draw new leaders for training.

 

Jorge (in red) is a member of our pastors’ fellowship. Ten years ago, he was a student in classes taught by Roberto. In October his church ordained him for ministry.

 

 

 

As a group, we attended a conference on Biblical Exposition hosted by Goiânia’s First Presbyterian Church (left), where we were encouraged and equipped in our proclamation of Christ and his word.

 

 

In 2015, our class at church for new believers draws to a close, though we will offer it again. Also I’m preparing to teach Hermeneutics, or “How to Interpret the Bible”, at our church.

We are talking with prospective speakers for our biblical counseling conferences in 2015 and 2016. The speaker we have invited for 2015 has a book we’d like to have available in Portuguese in time for the conference. Please pray that God would orchestrate everything and that the church would be equipped.

Wall Construction Update:
We praise God for providing for us so marvelously through your generosity!

When we presented the need, we reported that we needed to raise $2000 to cover our construction costs. That included a 10% allowance for “unforeseen” circumstances. But that evening after I mailed the letter, I realized the money for the wall would come to us as income, and that I had forgotten to account for taxes and administrative percentages. I groaned, “Oh, no! I should have reported our need to be at least $3000 so that after taxes we’d still have our $2000 for the wall!”

Well, thankfully, even when I forget taxes, we serve a God who accounts for taxes (See Mt 17:24 and 22:21). All told, we received $3245 in donations! And to our great surprise, our Brazilian church also took up a collection to help us build our wall! We are blessed!

We did, of course, have a number of unforeseen circumstances. We had to dismiss our first contractor for dishonesty and for not showing up for work—after we had paid him 40% of the money for completing 25% of the work! We then hired a new contractor, but had to rent equipment that the first contractor had provided and then took with him.

Then, as our new contractor finished the wall, we asked if he could just patch over some exposed brickwork on our house, adjacent to the new wall, where mildew forms in rainy season. He pointed out that the problem was not the wall, but the severely cracked sidewalk that lets rain under our floor. So we began to replace the sidewalk—and discovered an old gaping septic tank below that corner of the house!

Thankfully, our contractor was able to fill the hole under our house with rubble from the old wall, and pour a new side walk. It’s not a permanent solution, but it should let us keep living here for a while. 🙂

We have so much to be thankful for! Most of all, right now we are grateful to Christ Jesus who instructed us not to be anxious about the basic needs of our material provision, but to “seek first His kingdom,” with the promise that “all these things will be added to you” (Mt 6:25-33).

We also praise God for each of you who partner with us in this ministry through your faithful prayers and gifts. We pray always for you, that God will “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

With hearts overflowing in gratitude,

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll

Action International Ministries
Matthew.Carroll@actionintl.org
Google Voice phone: (559) 372-9098
BrazilCarroll.org

October 15, 2014 Newsletter

I felt that I had done everything in life wrong!

“Erica” (a pseudonym) is in our new believers’ class. We were studying Scripture to understand what happens when a person is saved. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul describes a godly sorrow that produces repentance, contrasted with a worldly sorrow that produces death. I had asked if anyone in the class could relate.

Erica repeated herself with emphasis, “I mean, everything, absolutely everything, I had done wrong. I didn’t even think Jesus could forgive me—I didn’t think he would forgive me. But when I first understood my sin, I just wanted to be close to Him, to be in church where I could hear His word!”

After Erica found forgiveness in Christ, her sister also believed the gospel and was saved. The two sisters together attend our class for new believers. Teaching this class is the highlight of our week!

In our last letter, we requested prayer for a meeting with local pastors who had attended our conference on biblical counseling. At this meeting I met “Daniel” (a pseudonym) who told me of an open door for ministry in a poor neighborhood in his city. “But I’m not sure where to start; the children (9 to 14) are already involved with drugs and prostitution. What can I do?”

Frankly, I didn’t know what to tell him either, but I arranged another meeting with Daniel and our wise Pastor Roberto. When later the three of us sat down, that meeting went not at all as I expected. Almost immediately Daniel began describing how he’s about ready to call it quits on the little church he pastors. It turns out, in Daniel’s church, there is a “Diotrephes, who loves to be first” (See 3 John 9), who makes it very difficult for Daniel to lead. “I’m telling God I’ll give it two months, and then it’s either the other guy goes, or I go.” Roberto and I spent the next hour listening to and counseling Daniel. At the end of an hour, when I finally brought up Daniel’s ministry opportunity with the children, Roberto said, “Oh, you’re crippled by this leadership crisis. You can’t even walk. Resolve that first, and then do whatever you want for the children, and it’ll take off running.”

I’ll be preaching at Daniel’s church next month. Please pray that by God’s grace we’ll be able to strengthen Daniel in his pastoral ministry, and that the resolution of issues there would lead to greater progress for the gospel in his church and community.

Speaking of crises, you may recall our strained relationship with our neighbors. Originally they were spraying chemicals to fade blue jeans. Then they moved their operation elsewhere, but left two guard dogs. That was a blessing, because the dogs provided us security. The wall from our property to theirs is in bad shape, and the wall from their property to the street is easy to jump. But Friday, they removed the dogs, and warned us they’ve had trespassers.

Sunday evening, we came home from church, to find police lights, crime scene tape and a crowd of onlookers. A man was gunned down four doors from our house. Time to fix the wall!

A year ago, when we replaced our roof, we got an estimate on the wall, but it was not in our budget. The owner of the lot next door has been extremely difficult to reach and unwilling to deal with the wall. So the wall is still not in our budget, but it is no longer optional. We need to replace our wall, and we’d like to ask for your help.

We need to build a new wall, 2.3 meters (7½ ft) tall and 50 meters (164 ft) long to secure the north side of our property. To cover the cost of materials and labor, our goal is to raise US $4000… 


UPDATE: I haven’t even finished writing this letter, and God is already answering prayer! For the first time ever, we just met the owner of the lot next door. After over a year of leaving messages, he just showed up at the gate and agreed to divide the cost of rebuilding the wall. We start construction next week.

Though we still need to raise US $2000!

If even 10% of the people who receive our letter give a special gift of $35 today, we will be able to pay for our share of the construction costs!

I’m aware that many of you already support us directly, as well as other worthy ministries. But may I invite you to prayerfully consider a special gift of $35 or more right now to help us build our wall, and then also to ask God to marvelously provide the full cost of the construction?

To donate online, please click to our secure online giving page at ACTION. Under the “Additional Information” section, designate “51019.B Wall Project” in the comment box.

Thank you!


In other news, we are well. In addition to preaching at Daniel’s church in November, I’m filling the pulpit for Pastor Roberto end of October and preaching through John at our church’s evangelistic English-language service. We count it a great privilege to be here, as an extension of your ministry!

Thank you for all you do, through your prayers and generous gifts. We couldn’t do it without you!

Rejoicing in Christ!

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,
Action International Ministries
BrazilCarroll.org

P.S. To give online to our wall construction project, please click [here].
Surveying the wall.

September 3, 2014 Newsletter

Dear friends and ministry partners,

What gratitude we have toward the Lord for each of you who prayed for us and our Biblical Counseling conference with Dr. Lou Priolo!

From having 87 registered the week before, more than 220 people actually attended! A great team of volunteers pitched in as well. For Dr. Priolo, this was his third visit to Brazil, and he remarked it was his most enjoyable so far! Our translator Dennis invested many hours preparing a Portuguese version of Dr. Priolo’s content-rich PowerPoint slides, which were used not only at our conference, but also at Dr. Priolo’s next event. Dennis also translated the first teaching session, and I (Matthew) translated the next five. More than a dozen pastors from other churches attended. Next week we will meet with these pastors to talk about future opportunities for training leaders and equipping churches. Please pray that God would bless and direct this meeting September 13!

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Dennis translating for Dr. Priolo

Backing up just a bit, only days before Dr. Priolo’s arrival, a church in Brasília (3 hours by car from Goiânia) called to ask if Dr. Priolo could address their church. I regretted to inform them it would not be possible to squeeze another speaking event into his schedule. But we agreed they could meet him at the airport, show him the sites of Brazil’s capital, and take him to dinner just with their pastoral leadership for informal Q&A, and then provide his flight to Goiânia the next morning.

Dr. Priolo later told me the stop in Brasilia was worthwhile; he hopes to return there next year. The church in Brasília was grateful and sent a couple to represent them at our conference. Pastor Roberto and I look forward to joining forces with them to bring quality training to build up the Brazilian church.

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With Gisele and Diogo from the church in Brasília

The Sunday evening before our conference began, Dr. Priolo preached at a Baptist church in Goiânia. Dr. Priolo really made an impression on the church’s translator. This young man attended a seminary where he was trained in counseling based on principles of secular psychology. Since meeting Dr. Priolo, the translator has been asking how he can be trained in biblical counseling.

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At the Baptist church, the translator with Dr. Priolo

Goiânia’s First Presbyterian Church brought a contingent of about 20 people to attend our conference in Biblical Counseling. In November, the Presbyterian church is hosting a conference on Expository Preaching. Their speakers will include a selection of respected Brazilian preachers as well as American pastor Bryan Chapell. Chapell is author of Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, an excellent seminary textbook on expository preaching, which is also available in Portuguese.

Expository preaching and biblical counseling are like fraternal twins, born each one embracing his brother; the two ministries are not identical, but they are birthed in the same moment from the conviction that “man shall not live… but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

What a privilege for us to be in Brazil at such a time as this, to cooperate with likeminded brothers in Christ, and participate in the work God is doing building up his church!

Finally, we want to express our gratitude to everyone who prayed for our family’s health the past several months. In May, June and July, four out of the five of us had dengue fever—only Natu escaped. Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that attacks the liver, causes high fevers and body aches, and in severe cases hemorrhaging. Thankfully, we all had mild cases. The high fevers did not precipitate any seizures for Zuzu, and everyone else has recovered and is in good health.

Thank you for all you do, through your prayers and generous gifts, to support us in ministry in Brazil. We couldn’t do it without you!

Blessings in Christ!

 
Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,
with Natu, Nilo & Zuzu

 

 

Dr. Lou Priolo Conference Audio on Conflict Resolution:

  • Sunday morning message: “Rethinking Rash Judgments” (Matthew translating)
  • Monday Session 1: “Humility – Part 1” (Dennis translating)
  • Monday Session 2: “Humility – Part 2” (Matthew translating)
  • Tuesday Session 3: “Meekness – Part 1” (Matthew translating)
  • Tuesday Session 4: “Meekness – Part 2” (Matthew translating)
  • Wednesday Session 5: “Patience” (Matthew translating)
  • Wednesday Session 6: “Forebearance” (Matthew translating)

2014-08-10 11.09.24 IMG_4273 (Dia dos Pais) 2One last pic, just for fun…

Fathers’ Day in Brazil is celebrated in August.
(So I get to celebrate twice!)


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

June 19, 2014 Newsletter

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Dear friends and ministry partners,

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers! In our April letter we requested prayer regarding our neighbor who for several years has been using hazardous chemicals at his illegal jeans factory. At the time we wrote, they were keeping normal business hours, but then in May they kicked it up to 13 hours a day, including Saturdays!

Daily we asked God for a peaceful solution, and then one evening the shop manager drove up in his delivery truck. Once more I expressed our concerns, and the manager replied, “Don’t worry. We’re moving out on Friday.” And sure enough, they did! Thank you all for sharing this prayer concern with us!

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The jeans factory—now moved elsewhere

We also requested prayer for our new believers’ class. From 10 interested individuals we have settled at half a dozen students committed to the study. Each week I translate the next unit into Portuguese and I look forward to the next time around when I will have the class materials already translated.  🙂

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Our class for new believers

Pastor Roberto asked me to preach at our church the first Sunday in June. This is the first time I have prepared a sermon directly in Portuguese without taking a sermon already prepared in English and then translating it. A video of the sermon in Portuguese with a synopsis in English is posted at our website, www.BrazilCarroll.org.

Last week at market Elsiene bumped into Pastor Brito and his wife Jení, friends she last saw 20 years ago. This past Monday Pastor Brito called upon us at home to ask if Elsiene could preach at his church the next evening. “She can’t,” I replied, “but I can!”

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With Pastor Brito and Jení

We were well received at Pastor Brito’s church, and after the service I met Ailton, who also knew Elsiene back in the day. Ailton’s main work is in human resources management for the local power company, but he serves as an associate pastor under his father-in-law, Pastor Brito. Ailton asked about our work here, so I told him of our purpose and mentioned our upcoming training conference with Dr. Lou Priolo. Pastor Ailton immediately expressed an interest in attending the conference.

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With Pastor Ailton

I am thrilled to have met Ailton. Not only does he exude the affability Brazilians are known for around the world, but he also fits the profile of the man our training center wants to assist: proven character, from a simple church, bi-vocational, hungry for further training in ministry, and neither too green, nor too much set in his ways, with the prospect of fruitful years of ministry ahead.

Our biblical counseling training conference with Dr. Lou Priolo, August 17-20, will be our first event with the newly launched Evangelho e Ação—Centro de Liderança. We are personally inviting a number of key pastors and church leaders in the area and are planning for 500 attendees. Lord willing, this will become a yearly training conference and already we have contacted a guest speaker for 2015.

At the conference this year we will introduce the training ministry and opportunities for smaller scale training modules that can be brought on location to interested churches. Please pray with us for this event that it would be a blessing to pastors and other church leaders, and pray also for the training ministry as the form it will take year-round begins to coalesce.

In closing, please pray for “Carlos” (a pseudonym). Carlos is a neighbor who wrecked his motorcycle and is in bed until the bones in his leg heal. I have visited him to bring a Gospel of John and explain God’s plan of salvation. Please that God would bring Carlos to repentance and faith in Christ!

We consider it a great privilege to be an extension of your ministry here in Brazil, and it means so much to us that you partner with us through your prayers and gifts.

The Lord bless you!

 
Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,
with Nathanael, Danilo & Eliézer
Action International Ministries
BrazilCarroll.org

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

February 21, 2014 Newsletter

Pastor Mathews-98 banner

Dear Friends and Family,

Here in Brazil, “summer vacation” is December and January. All the same, we’ve been busy.

CL Folder 200In our last newsletter, we mentioned the Evangelho e Ação Centro de Liderança—in translation, the “Gospel & Action Center for Leadership.” In 2006, Pastor Roberto founded Evangelho e Ação as a non-profit Christian mission organization. To the northeastern state of Piauí, the mission brings the gospel and practical aid. Locally in Goiânia, the mission had the Centro de Liderança, a mobile training center for equipping pastors. In 2007 Roberto was called upon to assume the pastorate at our church in Goiânia, and the following year he discontinued the training center to focus on the needs of the church. Now, Roberto and I are reopening the Center for Leadership (CL). The Gospel & Action CL will serve evangelical pastors within needy churches by equipping them for ministry through training in biblical leadership, and expository preaching.

The first seminar in the CL is on Abiding in Christ from John 15, because apart from Christ, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). While studying this passage myself, I was invited by Pastor Alden Laird, from Visalia Evangelical Free Church to preach via video January 5 for our home church in California.


Sermon on John 15:1-16 (45 min.)

Pastor Roberto also asked me to preach John 15 for our church in Goiânia February 9, while he was in the United States at a conference. Last May, Dr. John Street from the Master’s College & Seminary came through Goiânia and I introduced him to Pastor Roberto. Since then, Roberto has dedicated himself to equipping our church in Goiânia in the area of biblical counseling. Last semester he taught a two-hour lecture each Monday night to a group of 40 members from the church, towards a vision of planting a church-based counseling ministry.

Preaching at ICESO 600 - IMG_0275

In order to deepen his own understanding and have more to give to his class, Roberto participated in a biblical counseling training conference last week at Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana. A fellow pastor (a graduate of The Master’s Seminary) and his family very hospitably welcomed Roberto into their home during the conference. We are very grateful for the warm reception, because that week in Indiana it reached -30°F—a far cry from our Brazilian summer! Roberto reports that the trip was very profitable; he wants to add a Biblical Counseling module to the Center for Leadership catalog. Roberto even bumped into some old friends, also from Brazil, attending the conference. I am absolutely delighted how God works out details, great and small.

Looking ahead to August, we have invited biblical counselor and author Lou Priolo to Goiânia to give a three-day conference on conflict resolution. Dr. Priolo has just written a new book on the topic, and we are seeking a local publisher to have the book available in Portuguese in time for the conference in August. Goiânia’s First Presbyterian Church has also expressed interest in sharing Dr. Priolo with us. Some of the details are still pending, but the current plan is that Sunday morning he’ll teach at our church, Sunday evening at the Presbyterian Church, and then Monday through Wednesday, August 18-20, we’ll host the conference with Dr. Priolo for the benefit of both churches and for the Gospel & Action Center for Leadership as well.

In March I start teaching two new classes at church. I’ll be teaching Fundamentals of the Faith in Portuguese for new believers on Sunday morning and Monday night. Also, we are going to start an English-language evangelistic Bible study Friday mornings before business hours. Many Brazilians are motivated more than ever before to learn English, especially as they prepare to receive the world on their doorstep for the FIFA World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016. Our strategy is that a believer from the church would bring a non-believing friend or colleague to the English group.

Zuzu cake 310 - IMG_0312On the home front, Nathanael enjoyed his Brazilian summer vacation and is now back to school and in 2nd grade. Danilo was climbing the walls here at home, so we put him in a free gymnastics class. He gushes about it so much that Nathanael wants to skip school to attend gymnastics. Eliézer just turned three, and spends all his waking hours affectionately smothering a kitten we adopted from the street. Elsiene, my precious bride, heroically keeps all us crazy boys fed, clothed, clean and loved.

Please pray for the relaunch of the Center for Leadership, for the new classes starting in March, and for the counseling conference in August. Please also pray for our family for continued health, gospel witness and effectiveness in ministry.

Our family is grateful beyond measure to God for you—for your prayers, and gifts of support. Without you, we could not be here. Thank you for letting us be an extension of your ministry in Brazil.

Much love in Christ,
Matthew Elsiene Carroll signature (for web)

 

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll
Action International Ministries | Brazil
Pastoral Leadership Development