Although Tim Carriker has spent his entire mission career in Brazil, this Presbyterian mission worker’s influence is felt around the world.
Carriker arrived in Brazil in 1977 amid a growing surge of interest in international mission sending among Brazilians.
After six years in a church planting ministry, Carriker, working with the Brazilian partners, helped organize the Evangelical Missions Center in Vicosa. Opportunities for mission training were few in those days in Brazil.
“They would basically give them two weeks of training and send them off,” says Carriker, who serves alongside his wife, Marta.
In South America as well as Africa and Asia, the school’s graduates have planted new congregations and developed new Scripture translations. It has been a model for other mission education programs. “Today there are more than 100 schools and mission departments in seminaries all over Brazil because of that one program that began nearly 30 years ago,” Carriker says. The center educates students from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and other denominations.
Carriker, who holds a doctorate in missiology and New Testament, left the faculty in 1992, but he continued to teach at other Brazilian schools during the 1990s. In 1999, the Carrikers began working with the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPIB). Tim serves as its coordinator of continuing education for pastors and as a missiological consultant. Marta assists mission teams from the United States who come to Brazil.
Though the IPIB supports only a handful of international mission workers, its leadership has asked Tim to help expand the church’s mission outreach. Both domestic and international mission in Brazil require cross-cultural strategies and sensitivities, he says. “Brazil is culturally, economically and socially very diverse, which makes national ministries very cross-cultural in nature.”
In addition to teaching and consulting, Carriker has helped prepare Brazilians for mission through his writing. He has authored nine books in Portuguese, mostly on mission topics, and he has edited several others. Currently he is general editor for a mission study Bible that will be published by the Brazilian Bible Society.
“It’s the kind of thing we can do as missionaries,” Carriker says. “Many Brazilians just don’t have the time or the financial support that would allow them to do that.”
The study Bible is a five- to six-year project, which he expects will be completed within the next year and a half. It will be a resource for mission leaders, pastors and lay people as they study what the Scriptures say about mission.
As Presbyterian World Mission celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2012, Carriker says that the same calling that nudged U.S. Presbyterians to share the gospel in other nations inspires Brazilians to work across cultures.
Presbyterians in Brazil realize they are heirs of a strong mission tradition that made its way to their country in 1859, Carriker says. “Every year they celebrate their own Reformation Day, the coming of North American missionaries.” He adds that “there is a tremendous sense of accomplishment among Brazilians that they are now sending missionaries as well to other parts of the world.”