Gary (back, center) and Sandy (front, second from left) serve with Word of Life Bible Institute in Brazil.
Calvary “Pushed” Him Toward Missions
Calvary alumnus Gary Parker serves with his wife, Sandy, with Word of Life Bible Institute (WOLBI) in Brazil, The Amazon Project. Parker said this ministry has three major foci. The first is “to evangelize and disciple young people,” by means of camping ministries, a K-12 Christian school, sports ministries, and teaching the Bible in public schools. Their second focus is the Missionary Training Institute, offering one-year, three-year, and five-year tracks. Parker said the three-year program is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in missiology, while the five-year program partners with online Brazilian universities to give students training in missiology and a university degree.
“The focus is to train Brazilian young people to be missionaries, to take the gospel to places where it’s never gone before around the world,” Parker said. The institute trains students in a variety of skills, including first aid, mechanics, agriculture, literacy, sanitation and water supply, and food preparation.
The third focus of WOLBI in Brazil is a church planting ministry on the Amazon River. WOLBI has a team of missionaries that go out on boats doing survey work to identify communities that are open to churches, then teams of church planters plant churches in the identified communities. Parker said, “As those churches begin to be established, of course, in all of these communities there are young people, so the cycle starts over.” All of the youth ministries are functional on the Amazon on a different scale, including camps, schools, and “floating seminary.”
Parker said, “I see God moving in the Brazilian church and in the hearts of Brazilian young people to not only take responsibility for finishing the job of reaching the nation of Brazil with the gospel, but also having more and more of a vision for reaching the world with the gospel.” He also mentioned how Brazil is uniquely positioned to reach the Muslim world, “because all the Muslim countries hate America, but they love Brazil because of soccer… And so Brazilians have open doors.”
Parker, who serves as Executive Director of The Amazon Project, discovered Calvary when their music team performed at his church in high school. He came to Calvary pursuing pastoral studies, but “a lot of things changed in my heart, and I ended up going back to Brazil where I was born to be a missionary.” While he was at Calvary, his parents returned to Brazil to start a new ministry with WOLBI. “They needed somebody to come with them,” Parker said, “to learn with them and grow with them… and I was looking for something to give my life to.” Now he oversees the various ministries in Brazil, raising funds, and representing the ministry in conferences and promotion. “Think what Dr. Cone does for Calvary, and that’s what I do for Word of Life.”
Parker said, “I believe we have one job description, and that’s making disciples in all nations. Whatever our occupation, we should have the nations in mind.” He looked to his time at Calvary as one of the factors that pushed him towards missions. “The time that you spend in college is a time where you begin to identify how you find your abilities, talents, and opportunities best aligning with that mission… so whatever you’re doing, whether you’re building widgets or preaching, the purpose behind that is the mission of making disciples globally.”