Tim and Marta Carriker
We have been back in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, since June 2008. It is a beautiful city on the coast. The population of about 400,000 swells up to more than a million in the summer. The climate is subtropical and right now it is fall; the temperatures in the mountains have been below zero already. This is one of two states in Brazil that get some snow. This is also where Brazilian apples come from. Florianópolis was settled by people from the Azores, and we have fishing communities. Right now we are all eagerly expecting the schools of mullets that come our way every year.
Our ministry in this city is connected with the Independent Presbyterian Church of Estreito, where Tim is part of the pastoral team and I am involved in a ministry with women. This church is to me the best thing about living in Florianópolis. It is a fairly small church of under 200, very friendly and eager to grow.
To accomplish this purpose we have been meeting in small groups, cell groups, for a while. These groups meet in homes during the week, and each member is encouraged to testify to his/her friends and later disciple those who come to faith. After a while the groups are modified to include others and to keep the number of people up to 14. We also have a different group that focuses on non-Christians in the neighborhood called Campeche. Tim is responsible for supervising this group. It is always encouraging to talk to new Christians and to be able to help them understand our walk of faith. Not too long ago, we spent an evening encouraging one of them who had complained about persecution after coming to Christ. This week we asked her if things were better. Unfortunately, the answer was “not really.” But she did have a blessing to share about her father helping her during this time of need. In Christ we are not promised lives free of problems, but we have seen God’s presence with us, taking care of us all the time.
On Tuesdays at the church, I meet with women, many of whom are not yet Christian, for crafts. During our coffee break, I lead devotionals that focus on our relationships with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and one another. Through this ministry we have seen change, for which we are grateful to God at work in us.
I have also been serving as an interpreter and facilitator for groups that come to visit the missionary projects of the denomination we work with. These go to the Northeastern, Amazon, and Southern areas of Brazil. Next July, the Presbytery of Mississippi is bringing a group to visit the Northeast, where they are helping a congregation build a manse and Sunday School rooms.
Outside Florianópolis, Tim and I participated in the Lausanne Congress in October of 2010 in Cape Town, and we were table leaders for an English-speaking group with people from the Philippines, Unites States, Australia, and Tanzania. Our time together, though much too short, was precious as we heard the experiences of our brothers and sisters from different contexts and prayed for one another.
We were also challenged to consider what people groups have not yet been reached and to take their names to our churches so that we can pray and commit to actively engage in telling the story to those who have not yet heard it. Statistics were distributed, and the input of the Church worldwide was requested to correct and update this data.
The last evening we closed with possibly the most beautiful service I have ever been a part of. There was an orchestra and a choir for a Kenyan service of Holy Communion. Sitting with friends we had not seen for a long time, Tim and I felt privileged to share in the same spirit as we sang:
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand