LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Timothy and Tammy Renner of London got a surprise Christmas present this year. On Christmas morning, the Renners received a message from the IRS stating their organization, The Great Commission Brazil, is now a certified non-profit.
The mission of The Great Commission Brazil is to reach and teach as many people as they can about the Bible, not only in Laurel County, but also five-thousand miles from home in the remote villages of Brazil.
Once a year, the Renners immerse themselves in the Portuguese speaking country, communicating through love and charity.
“We go in and we love them. You become a part of their family and together you grow,” Tammy said.
“We try to leave them with hope,” Timothy said.
Timothy Renner’s first mission trip to Brazil was in 2008 with Calvary Baptist Church of Somerset. Every year since, he has made the journey, independently, to help seven poverty-stricken villages along the Rio Tapajos River.
In 2009 Timothy began a Christian youth camp in the outskirts of Brazil that drew in crowds of up to 450 children and young adults during Carnival, a colorful, risque parade that takes place 40 days prior to Easter. In 2012, his wife, Tammy, joined him in Brazil and together with help from volunteers they built their first church in Tucuma.
That church began with one family of seven. Today, it has a congregation of 54 villages who have church services four days a week.
“The first time I landed there, I saw the people live simple lives and they were hungry for something,” Timothy said. “They’re hungry for the same thing everybody else is — love.”
In these villages, there is no electricity, running water or nearby stores.
“No matter how many pictures you see or stories (you hear), it’s beyond your imagination. They live day by day, they don’t have Walmart to run to or country stores to go to, they live strictly off the land,” Tammy said.
The villages they visit are already deeply rooted in the Catholic faith, so Timothy said they do not push any specific belief system. They only provide the tools and shelter to generate a deeper sense of hope. Each year, 1,000 Portuguese Bibles are distributed with enough shoes, clothing, food staples, and dental supplies to last more than 23 families two months.
“We leave them with a seed, and that seed is hope. As Americans, we are always looking for what we can gain and what we can have. Over there, they wake up this morning and all they’ve got is that day and they fish enough fish for that day. They pick enough fruit off of the tree for that day, and they live day by day. It took me several trips over there, staying in the villages, to find out that by living day by day, you have to put your faith in something,” Timothy said.
Brazilian native, “Pastor Mario” carries on the mission when the Renners leave. He travels up and down the Rio Tapajos River every weekend, ministering to each village.
Eight missionaries will be traveling to Brazil this year with The Great Commission Brazil on February 8. The Renners are hopeful for donations to allow them to continue in their missions-based ministry and provide fuel for Pastor Mario to travel the Rio Tapajos River throughout the year.
For more information about the Renners’ missionary work, visit thegreatcommissionbrazil.com.