Banks Community United Methodist Church


For more than 30 years, we at Banks Community UMC have been providing support for an amazing Bible correspondence course called "Luz da Vida," Portuguese for "Light of Life." The course is administered from Caruaru in Northeastern Brazil by enthusiastic Brazilian Christians. Their long-time missionary pastors, Lou and Fay Warkentien, invited our Pastor, Brian Shimer, to travel to Brazil to witness first hand how God is working in that place.

Even 30 years of helping a far away mission work does not provide the excitement of seeing the results. May God spark in us the true spirit of partnership as we see here what has obviously been accomplished and continues to thrive.

I was asked to accompany Lou and Fay Warkentien to Brazil March 1st 2007. I flew from Portland to Atlanta and here joined with them to fly to Sao Paolo and on to Recife. By the time I arrived in Recife I had been traveling about 30 hours.

Pastor Brian

We were met at the airport by a group of Brazilians happy to greet us. They had traveled from Caruaru by bus in order to be there, and also because any excuse to travel to the bigger city of Recife is relished by the church members

After we arrived they took Lou, Fay and me all out to dinner at a restaurant where we ate at big long tables Brazilian Barbecue with many waiters coming to serve meat to us from long skewers and cutting off the piece we wanted with big knifes. After this meal, the three of us were dropped at a family's home to rest while the rest of the crew went to the mall and, it turned out, some to a movie. We left for Caruaru about 4 hours later and arrived there 36 hours after I had left the states.

The city of Caruaru sits upon and around a central hill. It was founded upon the site of what was a ranch to which people came on a weekly basis to set up a marketplace. Eventually, some of the people who came stayed as squatters on his property. He then donated the land to begin the town. There is a statue of him in the center of the community. Each week still there is a market in the center of the community to which literally 50,000 people come weekly to shop from 3 am until 11 am on Tuesdays.

In Caruaru we all stayed with the Warkentien's son Phillip, his wife Rita, daughter Manoelita and son Daniel. All the meals there were wonderful with fresh fruits, vegetables, cooked foods and breads.

Pastor Philip Warkentien and his family live on the same block as this church building. This is a church that has been built up only over the past 12 years and has grown from a small Bible study to about 300 members and a large building with an addition under construction. There are many wonderful people.

The church has chartered a city bus which goes to three points throughout Caruaru to pick up people and bring them to the worship services and Bible Studies that happen four times a week.

There are about 120 people who arrive on this 50 passenger bus for worship each week at four worship times.

While in Brazil I had the privilege of preaching / teaching 11 times in different settings in the "home" church and in a country church, a "daughter" of the home congregation.

Pastor Brian teaches while Pastor Philip
translates into Portuguese

This congregation in the country (RCC) was established by the Warkentien's congregation for over 90 people who were coming each week in three Toyota taxis four times a week to the worship services. So four years ago with the help of a congregation in the states they purchased the land and built a building, parsonage and bathrooms. They have many acres of land for this congregation so they have lots of ways to expand the work.

When not speaking I worked in the Light of Life office, a Bible Study correspondence course ministry. There are more than 14,000 students (shown by black dots on the map) actively involved with this ministry, doing the studies, sending them back and hearing from the staff of 3 part time employees and a few volunteers. Each week they receive many, many responses and send out a stack of material to students daily.

Some of the volunteers who promote the study are called "agents" and work in many places. This man is in the local community with 300 children who are all doing the study. The agents come into the office get new studies for their students after having corrected the previous studies.

Most of my time in Brazil was spent in the company of wonderful people;  I was hosted to meals, traveled around the town with people, learned a few Portuguese words, ate amazing foods....

These last pictures include some of the people, the children and adults, some hugging Lou (for everyone was hugging Pastor Lou).

Star Fruit


Lou Warkentien, his wife Fay and his daughter-in-law
Rita saying goodbye at the Recife Airport.