Tom and Penny Latham
The Lathams have been missionaries since 1973. They have started three churches that have been turned over to nationals. They say, "We are now working on church number four, which has purchased a building of 4,500 square feet. We have about 90 people coming, but not all show up for the same service."
Tom writes, "Brazil was discovered in 1517 by explorers from Portugal and that is why we speak Portuguese while the rest of South America speaks Spanish. Brazilians are very friendly people, kind and patient. We love to minister to these people who return our love and kindness."
Tom and Penny enjoy using creative outreach ideas such as dramas, puppets, tracts, coaching wrestling, teaching ladies crafts, and baking donuts.
The idea of a wrestling ministry was born in 2005, but the lack of a mat was a serious problem. The team started out with two juniors unassociated with Tomís church; they were using a small area in a local gym. With help from friends in the States, Tom was able to purchase a mat, some shoes, and other necessary equipment. When he invited his church kids to participate, the idea developed into a grand ministry.
In November 2009 the Lathams hosted a teen activity in which six teenage wrestlers from the community participated. Afterwards they brought the teens to their house for donuts. This is their plan, using wrestling to make a difference in the lives of Brazilian kids, of which the majority do not have a dad at home.
Tom reports, "Now we have 16 wrestlers on our church team. I was able to form four teams from wrestlers at public schools. One-third of our congregation is from the wrestling work. This is the type of result we are working for in our wrestling ministry."