May 2021 Prayer Letter

We received a huge blessing in April for the first time in over a year: Not a single church had to cancel any of our meetings due to Covid! All throughout churches in America, we’ve seen an increase of peoples’ willingness to get out and get back to church. In the midst of all the bad that has happened due to Covid, God is bringing a lot of good out of it as well. There seems to be a renewed excitement at church now. People are thrilled to be back together serving God, and we love it. 

Sadly, Chile seems to be moving in the opposite direction. They closed their borders down for the month of April and are now extending that into May, along with various restrictions within the country itself. Please pray that Chile will open its borders soon so that we may get the paperwork finished that we need to get in order to arrive there in November. 

Throughout our travels, we often meet several different people and find ourselves in places that we know God wants us in at that very moment. One neat story about how God always divinely orchestrates situations occurred just this past week. We were in a section of Florida where manatees can often be seen, and a pastor’s wife mentioned we should try to go see them. So as we were heading out of town the next day, we stopped by that area to see them. Sadly, they weren’t out and hadn’t been seen that day. We went and grabbed a bite to eat and decided to try one more time before leaving. When we came back, they were there! We walked out to the jetty and were watching them when I had to step away for a few minutes. When I came back, I could see Leslie talking to a lady in the distance. Of course, I thought laughingly. Never meets a stranger. Later I found out that they had crossed paths and one conversation had led to another, and Leslie was able to witness to her. The lady’s name was Linda, she was from Indiana, and she had never heard how she could be saved. Please pray for her salvation, as she had several probing questions about the Gospel. Leslie was ultimately able to leave her with a tract, and we believe God’s Word will do its work in her heart. But I just think, if those manatees had been there the first time, we’d have never met Linda. God is still seeking to save sinners. He is so good. 

As we travel, God allows us to see some really neat things as well. We were in a missions conference in Ashtabula, Ohio, and while there, they showed us the site where P.P. Bliss was killed in a train wreck. He was the man who composed many of the great hymns we sing today, as well as the music to It Is Well with My Soul. The bridge pictured below collapsed as the train was crossing it, and several people were killed in an ensuing fire, including Bliss. In the time since, they’ve fortified the bridge to make it much more safe. It was neat to be there, though. (Also, Lake Erie was awesome and it felt like seeing an ocean.)

Finally, God has been so good to keep us safe on the roads. On our way to Florida last Saturday, we drove through heavy rains for two solid hours before getting into one section of southern Georgia, where the rain became a torrential downpour mixed with hail. A tornado warning flashed up on my phone twice telling us to seek shelter, and cars were all over the side of the road and under bridges, but we just kept pressing on because we didn’t really have much of a choice if we were going to make it to Florida in time. We just prayed that God would keep us safe, and eventually the skies broke and it felt like driving straight into heaven on the other side! 

Thank you all as always for your prayers. Until next time!

Praises

We received several new supporting churches this month!

Churches are getting back into full swing, and Covid cancellations are almost non-existent at this point.

Prayer Request

That Chile will open its borders so we can get the paperwork finished to leave in November.

Setup Fund Essentials

Shipping Container and Moving Costs-$3,000

Residency Visas-$200

Rent and Deposit for Three Months-$3,000

Vehicles-$12,000

Language School for a Year-$10,000

Seven!

SEVEN NEW SUPPORTERS SO FAR THIS MONTH!

With about a week left in January, we’re so blessed to have already heard of seven new supporters this month! It’s been such a blessing receiving word from pastor after pastor that their church has voted to partner with us financially in reaching Chile with the gospel. We’re praying for even more before January is over.

With November fast approaching, we’ve had people ask how they can contribute to our ministry. Right now we’re saving our for our setup fund (This is the fund we’re using to get everything going in Chile. It includes things like plane tickets [Already purchased], various items we need to bring from the States that Chile doesn’t have, obtaining vehicles in Chile, etc.). Anybody interested in doing so online can go to https://visionmissions.org/give/ and choose “Stephen Carrier” from the dropdown menu on the left. Anybody wishing to do so through a physical check can send it to:

Vision Baptist Missions
C/O Stephen Carrier
PO Box 442
Alpharetta, GA 30009

Under the memo, put “Carrier Setup Fund.” We appreciate all who’ve shown interest in helping us reach Chile and get set up there. Leslie and I get so excited as we discuss our departure date approaching (November 14th!) and when we’re going to pack our stuff, etc.

WHERE ARE WE?

As far as our deputation travels and where we are right now, I’ll let you look at this sign from a restaurant we were in to see if you can figure it out!

If you guessed Texas, you’d be right! God has been so good enabling us to have meetings here for a couple of weeks to present the ministry to Chile. Please pray with us that the churches we are supposed to be in this year will all be able to have us in. 

As an aside, when we travel, we use our phones for a GPS. The sad thing is that our phone holder wouldn’t stay on (Nothing more fun than driving down the road, only to have the thing fall off with your phone in it and whack you on the leg), and we finally tired of it enough that we decided to fix the problem once and for all!

AM I ALWAYS DISPLAYING THE LOVE OF CHRIST?

Last Thursday night we went to Walmart and an interesting thing happened. We were shopping in the deli section and a lady came up to look around the area where we were. Somehow, she and Leslie and I struck up a conversation that lasted for about thirty to forty minutes. She was telling us about her kids, we told her we were missionaries, etc. At one point she said something that really struck me, though. She said she had noticed us and that there was something different about us. We weren’t even doing anything special, just shopping for some things we needed. Long conversations with strangers don’t seem to ever happen much in the era of Covid, and it was a really neat experience. The main takeaway for me, though, was that people are sometimes watching us when we don’t know they are. I wonder if I’m always displaying the love of Christ when they do. I wonder how many of us as Christians are being watched and don’t realize it. What are we saying about our Savior when this happens?

THE BAPTIST CENTER FOR WORLD EVANGELISM EASTER OFFERING

Lastly, one thing that is near to our hearts is the Baptist Center for World Evangelism, a place where young missionaries can go to be trained for the mission field. One of the biggest blessings Leslie and I receive from Vision is our constant training, and we believe strongly in the future of missions via this project. If you would like to get involved or see what I’m referencing, please go to this link below:

http://www.bcwe.org/OGEO/?fbclid=IwAR1YTkTG0CnWtfJ5KIJJDvM_YXl6cE_Y2mgugN6DYDB2ZHmShYU-dpTz9zs

As always, God bless each of you. Until next time!

December 2020 Prayer Letter

It’s hard to believe I’m sitting down to write the last prayer letter of 2020, yet here we are, heading into the Christmas season! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were able to spend it with my family in Tennessee and then to travel up to see some of Leslie’s family. 

As those of you who read our last Carrier Courier know, we had a great November. We heard of five new supporting churches and were in several states presenting the ministry to Chile. Our hearts were full when a lady trusted Christ as her Savior one Wednesday night during the service, and we’re excited for so many just like her in Chile who have yet to hear to gospel, but who one day will when God sends us there. 

Great things are happening in Chile. Churches are beginning to meet again. Liberty Baptist Church, a church our teammate Jason Holt started, just celebrated their fifth anniversary. God is still working in the hearts of those who need Him. And that’s what we’re praying for: hearts that will be ready to receive the truth when the Lord allows us to get there. Chile is beginning to open up its borders to foreigners, and we’re praying and expecting to be in Chile next year. Would you pray with us that God will speed us to the field? Would you consider partnering with us financially so that we may reach Chile with the gospel?

Thank you all as always for your prayers and support. We couldn’t do what we do were it not for our rope holders in the U.S. I hope each of you have a very Merry Christmas!

OCTOBER 2020 PRAYER LETTER

Last month, I wrote that we had just been called in to be with Leslie’s mom as she was on hospice in the final stages of terminal cancer. We want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have prayed for us and reached out. We have certainly felt the Lord’s presence and the power of your prayers. Mama went to be with the Lord  peacefully and with a beautiful smile on her face on September 5th. She was able to see pretty much all of her family before passing  away, and we were with her as she was ushered into the presence of the Lord. It remains a sure hope to us that we will see her again someday (I wrote more extensively about her passing in one of our Carrier Couriers this month.) Leslie and her family are doing well. She has a been such a trooper through this whole thing, and I know God is going to use her greatly in Chile and in the States to minister to those who are going through the same battle.

I also wrote last month that we were praying we could cross the 50% mark of our needed support, and praise the Lord, He has provided and we are now over 50% of our needed support! When we get to 60%, we can purchase tickets. Would you please pray with us that we will reach that goal soon? Would you consider partnering with us financially in the ministry to help us reach Chile with the gospel? 

Please pray for safe travels this month as we will be presenting the ministry anywhere from Florida to Michigan. Pray that we can have divine appointments to speak to those who need the gospel. That is what we most desire. May God bless you. Until next time!

Almost Back to Normal, And Then…

No doubt these last few months have been trying times for everybody, but God has been so faithful. We’re so grateful for our supporting churches still sending in support, and we were so excited that, after two months of having meetings cancelled, we were finally going to be able to start back on deputation at the end of May (You don’t know how much I miss deputation). The anticipation was in the air, and life was going to be getting back to normal.

Then we had a friend over to our house that suggested we should get tested for the Coronavirus.

“No!” I declared. I’d seen the images of the test, how you had to force the stick up your nose until it basically reached your brain. It looked horrific, and I wasn’t going to take that test unless I absolutely had to. She insisted that it would be the right thing to do so we could go to our meetings with a clear conscience, and I figured she had a point. And then that same friend tested positive for the virus two days later, and we knew we had no choice.

We loaded up and headed to a nearby testing facility, and I have to say that the test wasn’t nearly as bad as it looks. A little uncomfortable, yes, but not the horror show I’d imagined. We were both negative and thought we were good to go, but then Leslie started experiencing symptoms the next day. And four or five days later, I did too. We went for another test and this one confirmed what we already knew to be true: We both had the virus.

I cancelled our next several meetings and hunkered down for day after day of endless misery, with no end in sight. Leslie had four or five pretty rough days and then got better. Mine lasted eleven or so. I can’t speak for Leslie, but I can honestly say it was the sickest I’ve ever been. If there was a symptom to be had, we pretty much had it. I will say it was a great weight loss program, though, because I lost ten pounds in as many days! Finally, one day last week, I woke up without a fever and realized I’d hit a breakthrough. We are now both feeling so much better and are almost at 100%. We praise the Lord that it didn’t turn out any worse than it did and neither of us ended up in the hospital. We also have wonderful friends who brought us groceries and anything we needed. We’ve been tested again now and are awaiting the results, but I feel pretty certain we’re over it.

Also, please pray for the president of our mission board, Pastor Austin Gardner. He got the virus and had to be put on a ventilator. He is now off of the ventilator and the next 24 hours or so are critical to trying to keep him off. We praise God for how He has carried him through thus far and are praying He will continue to do so.

As for us now, we’re excited to FINALLY get back on the road, Lord willing. Please pray that we can continue raising our support and reach Chile next year. We can’t wait to get there with the gospel.

MAY 2020 PRAYER LETTER

We experienced a deputation first this month as, on Easter Sunday, of all days, God allowed us to present the ministry to Chile over Facebook livestream with a church in Wisconsin. The pastor was extremely gracious in allowing us to do so. We worked it out so that he made me an administrator of the church’s page before doing a run-through together. Then, on Sunday morning, he did the first part of the service from his end and afterward we switched over. I got to present the ministry and preach from our little kitchen. I have to admit that, as many of you have no doubt discovered, the dynamic was quite different. I had a good time, though. It was  kind of funny when Leslie laughed a couple of times but was all alone in her laughter.

In the middle of the month, we were invited to get on a video call with a youth group at a church we were in last May. We had a blast. We updated them on what was going on, and then they asked a few questions. What was really exciting to us was that they let us know the church was going to be taking us on for support! I didn’t think we’d be getting any new supporters in April with all that’s going on, but God showed that He is indeed still in control and is working on our behalf. We pray He will speed us to the field, because we can’t wait to get there. However, we know He has his reasons for all He is allowing right now, and we’re trusting in His plan for our lives.

The Lord has been good in allowing us to use this time to be at Leslie’s parents’ house a little bit more. Her mom is undergoing a new type of therapy, immunotherapy, so we’re waiting to see how that is working. She’s been gaining her strength back and having the ability to eat much more now than she was, so that’s good.

We hope all is going well wherever you may be. I certainly hope that this time next month, things will have begun to ease up a little and started to return to somewhat of the normalcy we had before. We miss going to church and seeing people, as no doubt you all do too. Thank you so much for your support, and may God continue to bless you greatly!

January 2020 Prayer Letter

Happy New Year! We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. As for us, we are blessed that Leslie’s family gets together on the 24th, and mine on the 25th, so we were able to be with both sides of the family this year.

One of my favorite things about coming to the end of a year is looking back at all God has done that year. It’s amazing how much can happen in 365 days. The biggest thing in our lives was that we got married. It seems just yesterday, but on the 12th this month, we’re celebrating our first anniversary together! We also got to meet so many incredible brothers and sisters in Christ this past year, many of which have become fast friends. We can’t wait to meet so many more in the coming months.

 

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Conversely, one of my favorite things about a new year is all the possibilities that lie in store. This year is shaping up to be an exciting one. We are thrilled to take a brief survey trip to Chile this summer so that we can begin looking for where we would like to live during our first term. Leslie has never been to Chile, and I’m looking forward to showing her the place we will call home in the very near future, Lord willing.

Just a few weeks ago, we sat down and wrote out the dreams that God has placed in our hearts for Chile and the world, big dreams that only He can fulfill. Will you pray that He will enable us to see His vision for this world fulfilled in our lives? I believe every Christian should be captivated by the thought of what God can do with his or her life. I hope each of you reading this believes God can do something great through you, because He can.

Lastly, we are praying God will allow us to finish raising our support within this next year. Would you consider partnering with us so that we may see Chile reached with the gospel? We want more than anything to see Him do something mighty there for HIs name’s sake.

Again, Happy New Year, and may God bless you more abundantly than ever this year!

December 2019 Prayer Letter

As we head into the Christmas season, we are so thankful again to be reminded of just how much God loved us in sending His Son Jesus to Earth. It’s a special time to celebrate as Christians, and we certainly hope all of you will have a very blessed Christmas season.

As for us, we couldn’t be more excited about taking the gospel to Chile, and we hope to be doing that fairly soon! These past few months, God has been so good to us in giving us several new supporting churches. We’ve been overwhelmed by the speed at which our support has suddenly increased, as we are now over 30% of our needed amount (And who knows, by the time you get this, it may be even more)! We’re praying that if God will allow, that the rest will come in within the next year so that we can leave for the field. It may sound like a big request, but with God, nothing is impossible. Would you consider partnering with us so that we can reach Chile with the gospel? And if we aren’t scheduled to be in your church, would you consider having us in to present the ministry?

On another note, while we’ve been elated at how God has been providing, we were also devastated this month by the news that Leslie’s mom has stage 4 cancer. When her parents went to the doctor originally, there was somewhat of a misunderstanding, and they believed that radiation and chemo would be able to treat her completely. As shocking as it was to find out that the cancer was more advanced than they thought, she’s undergoing treatments and there is still hope. We’re praying she will make a full recovery, and we know that God has her in His hands and that we serve the Great Physician. We also rejoice that she knows that as well and has trusted in Jesus Christ for her salvation. Come what may, our hope is in Him.

Please continue to pray for us as we travel. God has been so good to us and we are thankful for HIs provision. Thank you all for your continued support, both in prayers and finances. May God richly bless you, and have a Merry Christmas!

Saying Goodbye to Dolly

Last week started off extremely well as we heard back from a church in New Jersey that voted to begin partnering with us in the ministry! I was so excited to receive that text from the pastor, knowing our reaching Chile with the gospel just got that much closer. We’re still praying God will provide the rest of our funds within the next year, and we believe He will do so.

As I read that text, I was sitting in our Toyota Highlander in Florida (It was parked, in case you’re wondering). Little did I know that this vehicle was about to breathe her last the very next day as we drove to Pensacola. Having just crossed the Escambia Bay moments before, she summoned all her strength to pass one more truck before blowing her engine. We had her transported to the shop, and a few days later, we received news that she was too far gone to salvage.

It was a sad day as we went to clean her out. Dolly (This was the name Leslie had given her before we got married) took us as far north as Maine and as far west as Texas in her brief year on deputation. We packed her up so many times we had it down to a science. She did a great job for us in the time we had her.

Since we’re approaching Thanksgiving and it is a time to be thankful, I will say how good God was in allowing us to break down just two miles from where we were supposed to be staying, so we weren’t stranded out in the middle of nowhere between meetings. I’m also thankful that He’s been providing so that we were able to put back money month by month in the event that this happened, so it didn’t take us completely by surprise. He is truly so good to us.

As to an update about our deputation travels, we were in Florida this past week or so getting to meet other brothers and sisters in Christ who are doing a great job serving Him. We’ll be more local over Christmastime, staying mainly in the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia. We’re excited to be able to spend Thanksgiving with Leslie’s family in a few days.

Thank you for your prayers and support. We pray you all have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful start to your December. It’s hard to believe we only have one month left in 2019!

Until next time.

Our Current Support Level and an Update on Leslie’s Mom’s Cancer

*Written on November 14, 2019*

Many new happenings are taking place as we approach Thanksgiving!

First things first. As you may have read a couple of weeks ago, we found out that Leslie’s mom has cancer and were unsure what would happen going forward. We want to thank several of you who have reached out to let us know you were praying for her, and we’re excited to say that the cancer has not spread, and that the doctors believe that with chemo and radiation, they can get it all! This is a huge relief to us, and while nothing is ever a sure thing, this was about as good as the news could be for us right now. Thank you for your prayers, and please continue praying as you think of her and us.

Further below, I’ll mention where we are on our monetary support, but I wanted to say thank you to the churches that have had us in recently. We’re in the South for the winter, and we’ve had a wonderful time in the Carolina’s, Georgia, and Florida. In one church we were in, I was able to reconnect with an old college friend of mine, Craig Howard. It’s always exciting when I see people with whom I went to college serving the Lord.

Just last night, we got to be in a meeting with some friends of ours from Vision who are going to China! Andy and Lily Smith have recently started deputation and are doing a wonderful job together. If you’re interested in having a missionary to China come into your church, their information can be found at: https://thatchinamayknow.com.

As I alluded to earlier, God has been richly blessing our deputation lately and we’ve received several new partners in the ministry! A couple of Sundays ago, the church we were in that morning voted to partner with us in reaching Chile with the gospel. “We’ve got an empty spot on the wall over there that we need to fill,” the pastor said, pointing to framed pictures of their supported missionaries. Our hearts were filled with joy as we left, knowing we were that much closer to Chile.

Then, this morning, my phone rang, and a pastor’s name from a church we were in a couple of months ago popped up on the screen. I picked it up and, after greeting one another, he told me the church’s Faith Promise offerings had just gone above and beyond what he had anticipated. “Well, that’s great! Good for them!” I said, genuinely happy for the direction the church is going. “Well, actually, good for you,” he responded. “We just voted last night to take you all on for support.” You can imagine my excitement!

These two commitments, along with several others, have propelled us beyond the 30% mark of our needed support, and the number keeps rising! We’ve been so elated by how many pastors and churches we’ve heard back from recently, and we want to say thank you to all who have just taken us on or those who have already been supporting us for some months now. We know God is doing something great, and we can actually feel the momentum shifting in our favor.

To those who may not have taken us on yet, would you consider partnering with us so that we can reach our support goal within the next year? I truly believe that with God’s help, it is completely possible. Also, if we aren’t scheduled to be in your church, we’d love to come by sometime and present the ministry God has given us to Chile.

Lastly, over the past couple of months, I had mentioned the World Evangelism Fellowship at Vision Baptist Church. I’m happy to report that several pastors, assistant pastors, and laymen in churches across America came to be challenged in the area of world missions. It was such a blessing to see pastors whose churches we’ve been in and to reconnect with one another. If you weren’t able to make it this year but would like to come next year, the dates are November 9-10th, 2020.

Thank you again for your continued prayers for us. We’re so immensely blessed. Until next time!