April 6, 2016 Ministry Update from Fortaleza, Brazil

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“You’re living your dream,” I thought to myself.

In the middle of Hermeneutics class, we were discussing principles for understanding and teaching the Poetry and Wisdom Literature portions of the Old Testament. Between points in the outline, I glanced at the small group of students—all of them pastors or servant-leaders in their own churches—and I thought to myself, “Do you realize what this means? By God’s grace, you are helping equip pastors and teachers for the church—you are living your dream!”

Hermeneutics class

 

Turn the clock back twelve years: I was in Central Asia finishing one more in a series of short-term ministry assignments, and I was considering what to make my lifework. Among several options, I knew of some missionaries training national pastors in South Africa, and I concluded: That is a worthwhile work—that is how I want to invest my life!Skip ahead a couple years: I was at The Master’s Seminary in Southern California retooling for fulltime ministry. God provided a job on campus as intern to the academic director of The Master’s Academy International—a family of seminaries and Bible training schools around the world. In the first semester of 2006, the academic director asked me to design an application form to be completed by new training centers requesting to be considered for membership with TMAI.

Never could I have imagined that 10 years later my form would come back to me. This past February my colleague Diego Ramos, academic director of our newly formed Escola Bíblica de Expositores (EBEx) in Fortaleza, Brazil, gave me the form and asked me to fill it out so that EBEx could be considered for membership with TMAI!

Elsiene and I praise God for His faithfulness, in directing our steps over the past decade and more, as we pursued the godly ambition of becoming useful instruments in His hands, workers in His harvest fields.

Please don’t get me wrong. When I say we are “living a dream” I do not mean we are living a life of ease. The hardships at times overwhelm us, and we do not always resemble that smiling portrait on our missionary prayer card. Our arrival in Fortaleza, for example, coincided with an outbreak of flies across the region. The flies carried some kind of virus that gave sudden and severe gastrointestinal illness and sent us to the Emergency Room twice.

Since we had just arrived, we thought the flies were normal here and that we were the only ones getting sick. We really wanted to go back to Goiânia. But then we learned our national colleagues were also suffering from the flies: our pastor had to step down from the pulpit in the middle of a prayer service to be taken to the ER; another colleague was unable to teach the final session at a church retreat because of the illness that overcame him. In our frailty we took some consolation in the discovery that we weren’t alone in our suffering.

But our true consolation comes from the words of Scripture. Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18), and again, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17).

An exam for my Greek Grammar students

 

So now, after more than a decade in pursuit of this purpose, we count it a great honor to have the privilege of serving at EBEx, equipping pastors and teachers for the church. We are indeed living our dream!

We rejoice in the Lord, in His faithfulness to those who wait on Him. And we are grateful to each of you who uphold us in prayer and who partner in this ministry through your faithful gifts.

Yours in Christ,
 
Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,
Action International Ministries

Fortaleza Countdown: 12 Days

Good news!

The Lord has thus far provided 75% of our need for new monthly support, and we have not only reached, but surpassed our goal to raise funds to cover the special costs of our move to the Escola Bíblica de Expositores in Fortaleza! We praise the Lord for His goodness, and we thank each of you for your generosity and kind affection!

To date, we have received $826 in new monthly support and $11,380 in special gifts toward our moving expenses.

Our financial needs for the move to Fortaleza are detailed in our September newsletter, but here is the summary:

  • $1,100 total needed in additional monthly support [Only $274/mo to go!]
  • $10,000 total needed in special gifts to cover one-time moving expenses [Need met!]

Brazil Progress Map 2015.11.20
If you would like to give a gift of any amount towards our ministry, you may visit our “Needs” page for detailed instructions, or just click through to our secure online giving page at ACTION.

Thank you so much for partnering with us in ministry! We consider it a huge privilege to be an extension of your ministry in Brazil!

Matthew Elsiene Carroll signature (for web)

 

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll
ACTION International Ministries
Brazil

Fortaleza Countdown: 19 days

We are are praising God as we watch Him provide for us through the generosity of His people!

Today the movers arrive to pack up our house and place it on the truck for Fortaleza. In less than three weeks, Lord willing, we ourselves will board our flight for our new home and ministry at the Escola Bíblica de Expositores (Expositors’ Bible School).

To date, we have received $477 in new monthly support and $7780 in special gifts toward our moving expenses.

I detailed our financial needs for the move to Fortaleza in our September newsletter, but here is the summary:

  • $1,100 total needed in additional monthly support
  • $10,000 total needed in special gifts to cover one-time moving expenses

Brazil Progress Map 2015.11.13

If you would like to give a gift of any amount towards our ministry, you may visit our “Needs” page for detailed instructions, or just click through to our secure online giving page at ACTION.

Thank you so much for partnering with us in ministry! As always, we remain grateful for your prayers on our behalf.

Matthew Elsiene Carroll signature (for web)

 

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll
ACTION International Ministries
Brazil

30 Days to Fortaleza!

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Exactly 30 days from today, December 2, we arrive, Lord willing, at our new assignment at the Expositors’ Bible School (EBEx) in Fortaleza!

As we count the day approaching, we are delighted to see God’s provision on our behalf. Of the $1100 in new monthly support needed, we have received $260. And of the $10,000 in one-time special expenses associated with moving and getting reestablished in Fortaleza, we have now received $5050! We are grateful for what the Lord has provided through the generosity of His people!

Brazil Progress Map 2015.11.02

In our last letter we asked you to pray that God would provide a good renter for our home in Goiânia. We were perplexed because our house needs work. But we couldn’t figure out how, for example, to replace the flooring in the home while we are still living here. And even worse would be to try to oversee the work from 1400 miles (2300 km) away!

But God knew. We hired a carpenter, a friend from church, to begin repairs for us. He is getting married in March and asked if we would rent our home to him. In exchange for discounted rent, he’ll continue repairs on our home himself! Praise the Lord for this answer to prayer!

Looking toward Fortaleza, the Lord has also provided a fantastic home for us there. A family from the church there is moving, and has made their mostly-furnished home available to us. As one-by-one the Lord cares for the details of our move, we rejoice in His care expressed—at every turn—through the kindness of His people!

Also in our last letter we mentioned that Pastor Humberto, administrative director at EBEx, acquired the rights to translate and publish Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, by John MacArthur. At EBEx we will use this as one of our textbooks.

To begin the translation of this important book I have assembled an “international team of translators.” 🙂 Brandon and Paula are an American-Brazilian couple living here in Goiânia. Elaine is a Brazilian-Canadian in Toronto. These friends have experience translating sermons and Christian blog articles into Portuguese. They are passionate about the gospel and desire to see quality resources made available to Brazilian pastors. But this book is bigger than anything we’ve taken on before!

Please pray for Brandon & Paula, for Elaine, and for the whole project through its drafts and revisions, that the Lord would bless our efforts, and through this book, bless future generations of Brazilian preachers!

Please pray also for my preparation for my class on Hermeneutics, i.e., “How to Interpret the Bible,” that I will teach in January as a one-week module. I desire that the Lord be glorified and the students edified as we reverently approach God’s Word and learn how to let God’s own Word lead us to our theological conclusions and convictions.

In other news, we are encouraged to hear the church in Fortaleza is praying for our safe arrival. They are also working together to help launch the new seminary. Initially, the Expositor’s Bible School will meet at the church’s current facilities, but the people are purchasing a new property and plan to move the church, seminary and other associated ministries to the new location within the next two years.

Two weeks ago, the church held a work day on Saturday to clean up the new property, and an open-air church service (below) on Sunday. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see the whole church pulling together to make the new seminary a reality!

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Makes us wish we were already there!

It is truly humbling, when we consider how many people are “pulling” for us—whether back home, or ahead of us in Fortaleza—through your prayers and your generous financial gifts! Please continue to pray with us that the Lord would provide for us to arrive fully-funded in Fortaleza. If you would like to include our ministry in your year-end or Christmas giving, any gift at this time would help us land on our feet in Fortaleza for 2016.

Yours in Christ,
Matthew & Elsiene Carroll,
Action International Ministries

Fortaleza Progress

We are now six weeks out from our move to Fortaleza, and are excited to see how God is providing for us through the generosity of His people!

To date, we have received $60 in new monthly support and $4050 in special gifts toward our moving expenses.

I detailed our financial needs for the move to Fortaleza in our last letter, but here is the summary:

  • $1,100 needed in additional monthly support
  • $10,000 needed in special gifts to cover one-time moving expenses

If you would like to give a gift of any amount towards our ministry, you may visit our “Needs” page for detailed instructions, or just click through to our secure online giving page at ACTION.

Thank you so much for partnering with us in ministry! As always, we remain grateful for your prayers on our behalf.

Matthew Elsiene Carroll signature (for web)

 

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll
ACTION International Ministries
Brazil

60 Days to Fortaleza!

We are now two months out from our move to Fortaleza!

God has been providing for us in marvelous ways. Some members of the church where we will be serving in Fortaleza are moving to another state, and we have arranged to rent their home from them. It’s a beautiful home close the the church and they are allowing us to live in it for below the normal rental value.

Also, we have settled on a company to ship our household goods, ministry library and car to Fortaleza.

Last but not least, God is providing for us financially through the generosity of His people. I detailed our financial needs in our last letter.

Here is the bottom line:

  • $1,100 needed in additional monthly support
  • $10,000 needed in special gifts to cover one-time moving expenses

Brazil Progress Map 2015.10.02To date, we have received $40 in new monthly support and $2350 in special gifts toward our moving expenses.

If you would like to give a gift of any amount towards our ministry, you may visit our “Needs” page for detailed instructions, or just click through to our secure online giving page at ACTION.

Thank you so much for partnering with us in ministry! As always, we remain grateful for your prayers on our behalf.

Matthew Elsiene Carroll signature (for web)

 

 

Matthew & Elsiene Carroll
ACTION International Ministries
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.

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.

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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.

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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.