Carlos Martins: Billionaire Turned Humanitarian Missionary
After making a fortune from the English language schools he created in Brazil, Carlos Martins and his wife, Vania, turned their attention to serving the Lord and their family. In hopes of helping their son achieve his dream of serving a full-time mission, they served a humanitarian mission on the border of Venezuela. By the Martins’ count, they were able to help 20,000 refugees relocate. On this week’s episode, Martins discusses how the English schools came to be, and how he came to see that concern for his son was only a means to an end for the Lord.
If we allow the Lord to guide our path, and we give up our own plan, in order to believe His miracles, unpredictable miracles of multiplication, will happen in our everyday life.
Refugees: A Mission of Faith and Love
Carlos speaks at BYU:
Forbes Article: "Meet The 'Wizard' Who Became A Billionaire Teaching English To Brazilians"
Deseret News Article: "The Wizard of Hope"
3:04- A Wife’s Insistence
6:03- Back to Brazil
9:18- The Wizard School
14:07- Pass Along Cards
20:20- A Different Plan
29:18- The Love of Parents and the Reality of God
42:40- Calling in a Favor
47:34- Why Help Refugees?
47:41- How To Help
48:13- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00
Before we get into this week's episode, I just want to give you a little heads up that we'll be taking the next two weeks off to enjoy summer. We'll be back in August so we'll meet you back here then.
Carlos Martins named the multimillion dollar English school he created in Brazil after the movie "The Wizard of Oz." He loved the movie's message that everyone has unique talents and abilities just waiting to be found. It is clear that running a business is one of Carlos talents as he sold his business in 2013 for $720 million. But he also discovered another talent as he and his wife served a humanitarian mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the Venezuelan border. By the Martins count, in less than two years they were able to assist in relocating some 20,000 refugees.
Carlos Martins could have never imagined what learning English from Latter-day Saint missionaries would turn into in his life. He and his parents joined the church when he was 13. And its influence on his life has extended far beyond the manner in which it has blessed his life temporally. His 2012 book "Awake the Millionaire Inside of You," was a Brazilian bestseller and his new ebook "Refugees: A Mission of Faith and Love" is now available as an ebook on Deseret Bookshelf.
This is All in, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson and I am honored to have Carlos Martins on the line with me today. Carlos welcome.
Carlos Martins 1:44
Oh, thank you, Morgan. It's such a pleasure to be with you, and with our audience, especially to share experiences about faith, about purpose, and about, especially the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Morgan Jones Pearson 1:56
Perfect. Well, I have to tell you, I don't know when I've ever read about someone's life and found it quite as compelling as your life has been, I thought it was so interesting to learn about your background and how you started your business. But I wondered if we could start with when you were a student at BYU, you wanted to quit, you wanted to give up and go home back to Brazil, but something made you stay? Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to stay at BYU?
Carlos Martins 2:28
Well, first of all, I need to tell you that I came to BYU and I was 26 years old. I graduated from high school when I was 22. So you can imagine that I was not the ideal type of student. As a matter of fact, I had a lot of trouble during my school years. And finally, when I got accepted at BYU, I thought that all of a sudden, I would turn into a great student, excellent grades and great performance. But after the first semester, my grades were really, really bad. So at that moment, I felt frustrated. I felt very uncomfortable. I felt education is not for me. Unfortunately, I'm not prepared. I don't think I have the qualifications. I'll give up, I'll return back to Brazil, I will find any job that I can. And I just had one more challenge Morgan, I had to go back home and convince my wife. So I walked home, with my grades in my hands, just like a child walks back home to show the grace to her mom.
So when I finally met Vania at home, I said, "Look, honey, unfortunately, my grades are not good." And she looked at those grades. And she said, "You're right, the grades are not good." I said, "Well, don't worry, maybe I know how to solve this problem." And then she said, "In order to improve the grades?" I said, "No. We're going back to Brazil." Morgan, and our dear audience, at that moment, I found out who I had married with, because she said, "No, no, no, Carlos, you came here to the United States in order to graduate. And until you graduate, we're not going to go back. And can you imagine when the kids (I had two year old boys at that time—twins) can imagine what the kids are going to say about their dad if he gives up after the first obstacle. So put something into your mind, you won't return until you graduate."
So at that moment, I knew that I had no way out. either win or win.
Morgan Jones Pearson 4:55
Yeah, well and we all know now that you married a rock star because I feel like that's how you know you've married the right person when they, when they say no, we're not giving up that easy. So you were successful in school. And when you got done with school, from what I understand at that point, you were good to stay in the United States. But your wife wanted to go back to Brazil. Is that right?
Carlos Martins 5:22
Before I explained the story to you, Morgan, I need to tell you that there is a popular saying that behind the successful men, there's always a woman. And I don't like that saying. I usually say it's not behind it side by side. But then lady said to me, "No Carlos, the right quote is behind." And I said, "Why is that behind?" And then she said, "Because many times, the woman needs to push the man."
Morgan Jones Pearson 5:51
That's clever. I like that.
Carlos Martins 5:52
So that's the thing that happened to me. If I hadn't been pushed by why my wife, maybe I would have given up. Well, as you said, after I graduated, I was an intern in a company in Ohio. And I worked in Cincinnati for an internship before I go back to Brazil. But side by side, I worked with a former student that came from India. And every day, I would have lunch with him, talk with him. I would work side by side with him. And he would always tell me, "Carlos, I know your country. I've been to Brazil. Brazil is just like India, a poor country, underdeveloped, there's a lot of corruption, unemployment. If I were you, I'll stay in America. America is the land of opportunity. You can make your application to become a resident later on maybe a citizen, the company will support you, why don't you stay? I went that route and now I am a American resident." And everyday, you know, listening and hearing his story. Finally, he convinced me that's what I should. Then once again, I had one more challenge. I had to convince my dear wife, Vania. So I went home one evening and said, "Look, honey, I've been talking to a friend at work. And he's from India. And he already convinced me, the best thing in the world is to stay in America. So I'm thinking to apply for residency."
Once again, working for the second time, I found out who I had married with. She said, "I can't believe you Carlos after so much sacrifice, so much effort, so much work that you put into this graduation, now that we are about to go back home, you want to stay, put something to your mind, we came here to graduate and return home to Brazil. And we're not going to stay in America. If you want to make your American dream, you're gonna make the American dream in Brazil."
Morgan Jones Pearson 8:10
What a woman. I like your wife already. So you come back, you get back to Brazil, and you're working and a co worker asked if you would teach him English. And that was the beginning of the Wizard School. So tell us a little bit about how the Wizard School got started. And for those that are not familiar, what your school was all about.
Carlos Martins 8:36
Okay, so this is an important aspect that you mentioned. I went back to Brazil, and I had a good job, good salary. I had all the benefits, a house given by the company. I had a car, all the fringe benefits that an International Executive could have. But somehow, something deep inside, Morgan, said to me that there was something missing. And I didn't know exactly what it was. Until one day, some co-workers asked me, "Carlos, since you've been to America, you graduated from American institution. Can you teach us English during the evening?"
In a very modest way, I start teaching English classes in my home for one students, two students, three students, all of a sudden I had one class, two classes, three classes, group of students coming to my home and down the road, Morgan, all of a sudden, I found out that I was earning more money teaching English during the evening than what I earned working from Monday to Friday, nine to five. So that was a moment of decision. What should I do now? Should I open a school? Should I quit my job? So I went to talk to my friends and see what my friends had to say about this plan, this idea, this project, and you can't believe what I heard, they said, "Carlos, you're crazy. You need to think that competition is very high. And besides, there's a lot of schools that have been on the market for years. And Brazil economy now is unstable." And even some people said, "Look, teaching English as a second income, that will not give you a bright future." So I didn't expect they were, they wouldn't be so negative about my plan. I confess, they went home, and I cried, and my friends they did what? They laughed. "I knew that he was gonna give up, I knew that this plan was not going to work. I knew that he wouldn't go very far in his idea." Well, I didn't give up. I went ahead. And today I am the one that laughs, and what about my friends? Some of them they cried. And why is that they they cry? Because many or some, they had some projects, plans, ideas, dreams, but they are so focused on their fears, imaginary ghosts, some doubts, and they believe other people's opinions and criticism. And they never gave a chance to themselves for themselves to progress and develop their own project. So now, you know, and our dear audience know how the Wizard School, Wizard systems, got started. In turn, in time, it became the largest chain of language schools in the planet with 3000 schools, generating 50,000 jobs for teachers and servicing 1 million students each year. So why is that I mentioned this story? To make advertisement of my schools? Certainly not. I already sold all my schools. They don't belong to me now. But I make a point that's very interesting and the audience needs to be focused on this. Sometimes you have a gift, you have a talent, you have an ability, but you cannot see the entire potential of that gift that you have. When I first started. I didn't, I couldn't see all that was ahead. For me, it was just some complement of income. But in time, it proved to be a great business opportunity.
Morgan Jones Pearson 12:49
Well, it's such an inspiring story, I think, and we'll get to how much you ended up selling your company for which is mind blowing. But before we get there, you did something interesting with your school and and you were able to contribute in I think, a really incredible way to missionary work in Brazil. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Carlos Martins 13:15
Well, I believe in setting goals. I think that from my adolescence, years, teenage years, I always had focus in goal setting. And of course, when you go on a mission, that ability or competence will grow and develop. And when you start a business, if you don't have goals, you're not going to go very far. And when a new year came, I started thinking of the new goals that I would set for the new year. And I thought I need to set a missionary goal. In Brazil, missionaries use that pass along card. At least they used to use these cards a few years back. And then I thought to myself, well 375 days, I would set a goal to pass on the stolen card each day. I think that's a pretty good goal 375 pass along cards during the year. It so happened that after the month of January, I had given out like 100. And then I thought well, if I continue in this space, after two or three months, the goal has been already done. So I think maybe it was too low. Why don't they change to make a goal of passing along 1000 cards during the year. I thought that was a good idea. But in February came I had already given out 300 pass along cards and some people might think Oh heavens, how do you in a month 100, in two months 300 pass along cards. Well. I am kind of bold. And if I come to for example, a training with teachers, and I have 50 teachers in the room, I start announcing, "Before we start training today, I have a gift for each one of you here, take these cards, all you need to do is call, you're gonna get a free book in your home, and any place I would go I would pass along those cards, and people are very happy. And some of them would even kiss the cards. But anyways, going back to my plan for missionary goal that year. So when March came, I said, "Lord, maybe 1000 cards during the year is not very feasible, oh boy, is there something else that I can do?" So at that moment, inspiration came saying something like this? "Well, you have the web page from your school. Every month, approximately 200,000 people go see your website? Why don't you place a digital pass along card on the website so people can go there. They see it. They just click, they fill out with their names and address, and they'll get the book in their home." I thought, "Wow, that's great. I'll do that."
And then, in that moment of prayer, and pondering and reflection and seeking inspiration, said, "Lord, is there something else that I could do in order to spread the message of the gospel?" And inspiration immediately came, "Well Carlos, in addition to placing the digital pass along cards, on your website, you distribute each year, approximately 1 million books throughout all your schools. Why don't you insert a pass along card within each book, so that when the person gets the book, he already has the pass along cards in his hand."
I said "That's fantastic!" And then we did that. But the second year, do you know what we decided to do? Instead of printing out the pass along cards and inserting the book as you can imagine all the cost and logistics and work to do that, we decide just to print on the last page of the book that goes along card. Well, in turn, dear sister Morgan Jones, I want to share with you, thanks to the inspiration of the Lord, we set up a system with the area presidency in Brazil, where we had our own call center to get all those phone calls, so that we could measure their results. And every month, every month, we had approximately 4,000 people calling us, requesting to receive either a Book of Mormon, or a DVD on Christ, or a booklet about the family. So you don't need to be a mathematician or statistician. If you have 4000 people. In a year, approximately 50,000 people calling and requesting church materials. You can apply any percentage, you know that some people, they will be touched, they will start attending church, they will call the missionaries, they will enter into the waters of baptism. And then I just have this miracle of being traveling Brazil. All of a sudden, I meet a student. "Hey, Carlos, thanks so much for that pass along card. I called, the elders came, I started attending church, I was baptized. And now I'm about to leave to go on a mission." So I will never know, Morgan, the number of people that were influenced and became members of this church with that only initiative.
Morgan Jones Pearson 18:53
It's incredible. I think it's such...I was very inspired. My husband and I have been praying recently to know how to share the gospel. And I love that you, you know made it a two way conversation between you and the Lord of what more can I do? And so I think that's incredible. So, Carlos, in 2013, you sold your business for $720 million, of which you had a 78% stake. What have you learned from this experience, you know, from starting the business to selling the business, about God's vision for our lives and his ability to help us achieve more than we ever thought possible?
Carlos Martins 19:36
Well, I need to go back. And as I shared with you, Morgan, when I was about to start and my friends gave me all the reasons why you shouldn't start. I had to have confirmation, because I didn't know exactly if that was the project that I should would invest time, energy and effort to develop. So I made a list of possible projects. And I just got a piece of paper and start writing project one, two, and three. And then last one on the list is to open a language school. And I was driving. And this is about three years ago, I was driving a car from one city to another. And while I was driving, I was just praying, "Lord, I have all those projects, possible projects, I don't know which one I should really start. But I am sure that You know, Thou knowest, and I know even more, if it's Thy will, He can reveal it to me. So please help me understand which of those projects I should follow. And then the inspiration came "Your lifetime project is going to be the language school."
And then I started thinking, a language school dear God, will that make me prosperous? Rich? Will I build a fortune? Will I become independent financially, and then the inspiration came stronger. It's not only a school, Carlos, it is a chain of schools, but I said, I don't have money, I don't have experience and never been a business person. And don't have structure, people, connections, how I'm gonna do that? And then a verse from the New Testament came into my mind, Matthew 7:7: "Ask and you shall receive, seek and ye shall find, and knock, and it shall be opened unto you." So from that moment on Morgan, I knew that the Lord was willing to help me, and to show me the way, as long as I asked, as long as I sought, as long as I knocked. So why do I share the experience with readers, because approximately one year after I was starting my project, I lived in a small city, in the inland of Brazil...It's even hard to find a map. And I was attending church there, because the company where I worked for was in that location. But then since I decided that I was going to open my school, I could move to any city that I wanted, because it doesn't matter. Since you're going to have your own business. My wife and I came from the city of Curitiba, south of Brazil. And the thing that my wife wanted the most was to go back to live near her parents. So we had some savings, we decided to go to Curitiba and make a downpayment in a small house out in the outskirts, those houses that the first house that you buy usually is far away, very small, and is not very comfortable. And so we did. And of course, you have mortgage to pay for 10, 20, 30 years sometimes. But we were still in the middle of the semester, we couldn't move the kids. So we went back to that small town. And we said, "We're gonna wait two more months. And then when the kids finish their semester, we're gonna move okay?" Okay. During those days, Morgan, one day, the mission president came to our branch. And he said, "Carlos, I know that you and your wife have been to the United States. Most of you have been missionaries, you served full-time missions. You have your family now. And the church is growing, developing in this city. And we are praying to call a new branch president and inspiration came to call you. Would you accept?"
I said, "Dear President, thank you so much for remembering me. Thanks for this recommendation. But I think there is one fact that you do not know. We are just temporarily here, because we are moving, we are going to Curitiba. And we are just waiting for our kids to finish the semester. And we even bought a small house in that location."
And then he said, "Carlos, I really did not know. I didn't know that you're removing and didn't know that you are temporarily here. And I had no idea of your plans. But I can tell you one thing. This calling is not mine. This calling is from the Lord. And the Lord knew that you are moving. And regardless of your plan, the Lord still inspired us to call you but you don't need to give us the answer. Now, you can go back to your home. Pray about it. And next week, you come back. And then you give me an answer." My wife, Morgan, started trying at that very moment, because he wanted so much to go back to Curitiba. But I must say to you and to our qualified audience, and that week was a week of revelation, we felt really strong that we should stay in that small town that you should not go back to the Curitiba And then next time they came, we gave the positive answer to the mission president. And then I said, "There's only one problem President" and he said, "What is it?" I said, "What about the little house that we bought?"
He said, "It's easy, you sell it." I said, "But there's one problem President. If we sell that small house there, we're not gonna have money enough to buy one here, because real estate here is more expensive than there." And then his answer, Morgan, is an inspiration to me, to you, and to everyone that's listening to us at this moment. He just said, "Don't worry, Carlos. When you do what the Lord expects of you, the Lord will provide." Wow, that reminds me of Abraham. You know, that experience. Isaac was in trouble. And the father just said, Don't worry son. Your Lord will provide and at the end, the sheep really did come and the Lord provided how they should do the sacrifice. Well, if I am sharing with you, and if I being very openedhearted with you, I feel that the Lord was more than generous, blessed us with much more than we ever expected. So what happens today, I live in a huge compound, it's half of the block where live. With every convenience net, you can think of, that's the comfort that the Lord has given to our family. Sometimes Morgan, I think of that small house, in the outskirts of Curitiba, because that was my plan. But the Lord had a higher plan. So that reminds me of Isaiah 55:8-9, "Your thoughts are not my thoughts, your ways are not my ways. And just like the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts, my plans, my ways, my paths." So this applies to you, to me, and to everyone that's listening to us at this moment. If we allow the Lord to guide our path, and we give up our own plan, in order to believe His miracles, unpredictable miracles of multiplication, will happen in our everyday life.
Morgan Jones Pearson 28:19
That's such a great, great reminder reminds me of how...we've had the the director of The Chosen on this podcast, and one of the things that he always says is that God does impossible math. And it's true. It's interesting how we can give up something that, like you said, seems so important. But what we get back is is quite the return. You recently in the last 10 years or so, right? You served a humanitarian mission with your wife, how long ago was that? Carlos?
Carlos Martins 28:54
We were called in 2018 and returned in 2020 when the pandemic started.
Morgan Jones Pearson 29:00
Okay, got it. Okay, one of your sons. So you adopted two boys, and one of them struggles with some special needs has dealt with some special needs. And so he wanted to serve a mission. And you and your wife were concerned that he might not be able to serve a traditional mission. And so you found a way to serve as humanitarian missionaries and to go on a mission with your son, which first of all, I just think is so sweet. But tell me a little bit about how this idea to serve together came to be and how that was able to come about?
Carlos Martins 29:43
So we brought the two little boys to our home. The two year old, we called him Nicholas, and my daughters wanted to play ball with him. But he didn't have an expression of interest. So they thought, "Well, maybe he doesn't like to play ball. Let's play with cars. Boys like to play with cars." But it seemed like it didn't have any interest or reaction. And most of the time he was very still, he didn't get around didn't say a word. As a matter of fact, he will not say mom, or dad. And then we start thinking that he had some either some type of condition, we didn't know exactly what it was. So my wife and I took him to several consultation, examination tests. And after a few months, the doctors indicated that probably had some level of autism, maybe on the Asperger's Syndrome, because he would not look people in the eye, he would not say a word, he had difficulty needing things. And all these are very basic traits of some child with autism. Well, to make a long story short, when he started long going to school, he had a hard time with school, every year, he would move to a different school. In total, he changed schools seven times. So you can imagine how hard it must be for the kid. And he was only able to graduate from high school when he was 20 with the support of many private tutors, and all that, well, regardless of his condition, ever since he went to primary, he always said, "When I grow, I'll go on a mission just like all his other friends." But I had a concern and my wife had a concern, will he be ready? Will he be prepared? Will he pass all the exams? So when he was 20, he graduated from high school, he went to talk the bishop, the bishop knew of his condition, and said, "Look, we need to make not only the regular exams, but you need to go through a specialist to verify your ability to resist all the pressure and the discipline and the program of the mission." So I put the boy in my car, and we drove to San Paulo, an hour and a half away from where we lived. And we took him to see the specialist. The doctor brought him into his office, we stayed outside 10 minutes, 15 minutes to an hour, just like a father outside of maternity waiting for the son to be born. That was our experience. So finally the doctor comes out of his office with our son. And we are excited just to hear something. And the only thing he says, "You can do back home. In two weeks, I'll call you and give you the results." My wife started crying the very same moment because she knew the result was going to be negative because had it been positive, he would immediately say it. Anyways, two weeks passed by the doctor calls and says "Look, parents, unfortunately, our recommendation that your son do not go on a mission. Because his ability of thinking, making decisions, reasoning, he has a high level of innocence, he might place himself under some dangerous conditions may put himself in some danger or his companion. So the indication recommendation is that he stays home." Well my wife again started crying at that moment, because then she was concerned, "How are we gonna tell this to the boy? Will he accept? Will he understand? Will he be able to manage in this situation, or maybe he will get a depression, panic, or he will feel even more frustrated because all of his friend went, cousins, brothers and sisters when he would not go?" Well, one morning, my wife gets up, wakes up in the morning with a bright smile right on her face. And she said, "Carlos, I know how you're gonna solve this problem with Nicolas." I said "how honey?" "I was thinking and I had this inspiration. Why don't the three of us go on a mission? And then we take Nikolas with us." And I said "Wait a minute honey, until yesterday the problem was Nicholas. And now you're saying that you and I plus Nicholas are going on a mission and then she said something Morgan that touched my heart. "What don't the parents do in order to help a child to fulfill his dream?" I was touching when she said that. There was just one more challenge. We knew that the church has the young men mission, we knew that the church had senior couples mission. We've never heard of a family mission. So my son, Elder Martins who serves as an area seventy in Brazil said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of that. I'll call the brethren and find out." So he calls the area presidency in Sao Paulo, and said, "Look, we have a couple in our stake, who has a son with this condition and they are thinking, if the Brethren approves the three of them could go on a humanitarian mission. And we just want to know if that's possible, or not." And then the other side one of the Brethren said, "Lincoln, do you believe in God? Of course, they believe in miracles, of course, they believe that the Lord leads our path, of course. But why these obvious questions?" "Because this morning, exactly. Today, this morning, we had a meeting in our presidency. And the Church is very concerned with the many, many refugees that are crossing the border, from Venezuela to Brazil every day. And we had inspiration that we needed to call a couple that could serve a two-year mission, humanitarian mission, to assist and help and give support to those refugees crossing the border. And we had no idea where to go, who to call, who to contact. And now we just got your phone call. We can just think that this is the will of the Lord for this. But by the way, Lincoln, who is this couple?"
And then he said, "My parents." So dear Morgan, dear audience, emotion, emotion, emotion, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. And that moment, we knew that was the will of the Lord, for Nicholas, for myself, and for my wife. But the story doesn't end here. Because finally, when we got to the Amazon, because the border of Brazil and Venezuela is extreme north part of the country and where the Amazon is located. When he finally got to that location, and the airport, we found the mission president. And he said, Brother Martins, welcome to the mission, Sister Martins, welcome to the mission. And Nicholas, here is your name tag, we have already a companion waiting for you here, you have an area assigned for you, you're gonna be on your own with your companion. And then I was worried more and I thought, doesn't he know about Nicholas condition? Doesn't he know about the exams? Does he know about the medical indication? So I asked him in private, "President, do you know the condition of Nicholas?" "Of course I know Carlos, I know all the story, but I decided that we're gonna make a test with him. We need him for a week with a companion working on his own. If he has any problem, any concern, he leaves his companion. He comes with you and your wife and the three of you can continue their mission. But if he does well, in one week, we try a second or third. One month. Can we do that?" "Of course President." To make a long story short Morgan, he stays one week, two weeks, three weeks, one month, two months, three months with his companion. Never one day he called on the mission president or his companion called. We had no type of concern with him. So the president after three months said, "Now it's time to transfer him. Can he transfer to another location?" "Which location president? About 1000 miles from here?" "Yes, because this mission is the Amazon so it's very long distance." "Okay, President you can trust him." He stays there for another three or four months. Time to transfer him again. "Can you transfer?" "Of course President goes to another location," and so on. And the last area that he served in the morning was a city called Quaca di. For you to have an idea. You go to the city of Manaus where there's a temple of the Church. And then there's the Amazon River. You need to take a boat and ride eight hours until you get to Quaca di because there's no roads that you can drive to that location. And there goes my son Nicholas to that location. Well, finally, the two year time ended. And I get emotional to share with you and with our audience that never did one day Nicholas called parents to say "Dad, the mission is too hard. Dad, I don't think I'm going to be able to continue. Dad, relationship with companion is not good. Dad, we are suffering this or that. Dad, I'm having a hard time." Never, never never. But on the opposite, everywhere that he went, when people knew of his condition and knew some of the people knew our numbers, they would call us, "Brother Martins, thank you for preparing such a good boy to come and serve, he's has such a sweet spirit. We admire him so much. Thank you for sending him." And we got many phone calls with members and converts, people that he was able to help to become members to contact us thanking for his mission. So now the question that I asked you, Morgan, and I ask our our audience is, while Nicolas was there serving his mission, my wife and I was on the other side, helping refugees, giving them food, clothing, medical assistance, getting transportation, getting housing, getting all the support that they needed to start a new life, what would have happened if Nicholas had passed his medical examination? Answer Morgan?
You wouldn't have ended up on your mission?
Never ever. Because never, my wife and I had considered to serve on a humanitarian mission.
Morgan Jones Pearson 41:41
Yeah, well, it's so cool to see the way that the Lord works in people's lives. And like you said, you were able to help thousands of refugees. And one of the biggest things that you helped with, from what I understand is helping these refugees as they came in to Brazil from Venezuela relocate. Talk to me a little bit about what your efforts in doing that look like.
Carlos Martins 42:05
So once we were there, in the border of Resumen, Venezuela, and for you to have an idea—every day, hundreds and hundreds of refugees would cross the border. And in that location, we're talking about the Amazon extreme north part of Brazil, there are no industries, no companies, no corporations, no employment, most of the employees that work in that area, they work for the government. So how can that refugee immigrant work for the government, no opportunity at all and using my business, mind mentality way of thinking, I started thinking, "Lord, we need to get away to take these people out of here, because they're not gonna help them, feed them in the morning, afternoon and evening if we keep them here forever. ...We need to replace them, send them to other location, relocate them so that they can have their self sufficiency. But in order to do that, we need to take them from the extreme north to the extreme south of the country, where there are companies, jobs, corporations, and climate opportunities. But the first challenge was how we're going to transport all these people. The distance almost comparing here to America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, crossing the country. inspiration came to me, you need to talk to David Neeleman. So I called David in Connecticut. I said "David, is Carlos Martins from Brazil. And my wife and I are on humanitarian mission. We have thousands, hundreds of refugees here, we need to transport to the south. And we were just wondering if you could help us." And then his first reaction was, "Oh, you're trying to buy tickets with a discount price?" I said, "No, this is not the plan is if we could offer the refugees free airline tickets, because every day there's a flight leaving this location to the south of the country. And many times there's 1-2-3 empty seats. Can you give those one, two, three empty seats to these refugees." He said "I can as long as the other companies do the same." I say "Look, I think they will do the same. Before they start. Why don't you start and they will see your example and they want to follow you. Okay?" And then he agreed. So Thanks to David Neeleman decision over that period of two years, we are able to assist over 20,000 refugees to leave their location and go to other parts of the country at zero cost. So I know that you're a good mathematician, multiply 20,000, airline tickets by any amount of dollar, you know, the value of the support was. And then I made contact to several companies, I made contact with several employment agencies that support refugees. And as they came to these locations, they are lined up already for a job. But we could not take a family from the street, in the border of the country, and send them to the streets of Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro, that would not help. So in order to do that, we contact the leaders of the LDS church, and many other church organizations so that when the refugee family came to those cities, there was a structure of support where the family could come. They knew that they have a small housing location, with food waiting for them. With all the necessary basic needs, the children could go to school, and the head of the family could go to work. So as I often say, This mission was not done by me, neither by my wife, but with hundreds and hundreds of hands, and angels, visible and invisible, that supported then the refugee costs.
Morgan Jones Pearson 46:24
Well, and it sounds like you did incredible work and and were such a blessing to the people there.
Morgan Jones Pearson 46:32
For those that are interested in helping refugees, but don't even know where to start or where to begin, what would be your advice?
Carlos Martins 46:42
Well, I have two suggestions. First, I recommend those that belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make generous contribution donations to the humanitarian general fund, because all of the refugees that we were able to assist, they needed help. With food, with clothing, with medical assistance, some needed surgeries, some needed to some very basic type of needs, the humanitarian fund was a way to provide that need. Second, there are many professional organizations that support refugees. And you just do a Google search and find those that you are inclined to. And you can help and doesn't matter if they came from Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela. There's lots of countries, unfortunately...that everyday people are fleeing because of lack of freedom, lack of liberty, lack of dignity. And if your heart is inclined to help refugees, there's plenty of opportunity. Just seek inspiration, and the Lord will give you the right inspiration how you should proceed.
Morgan Jones Pearson 48:13
Perfect. Well, Carlos, this has been so inspiring, and I appreciate you sharing your life experiences with us. My last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Carlos Martins 48:29
Many times people ask me, "Carlos how has your faith influenced your life, your business, your family?" And it's hard to think of my life, my family, my business without the gospel. My parents, when I was 12 years old, they thought that at those days there was lots of evil in the world. And they wanted to find a religious affiliation that could help them to keep the family united. So many times I heard my dad say that, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, he became a better dad a better husband, a better son, a better worker, a better citizen, a better son of God. So today, I just have to thank my parents who have done inspiration way back then, because thanks to their decision today, I, my wife, my family, already have been blessed.
Morgan Jones Pearson 49:26
Thank you so much, Carlos. This has been such a treat to talk with you today. And I appreciate you taking the time. Thank you, Morgan. We are so grateful to Carlos Martins for joining us on today's show. You can find his ebook, "Refugees: A Mission of Faith and Love" on DeseretBook.com. Again, just as a reminder, we will be taking the rest of July off to enjoy the summer, but we'll be back with you at the beginning of August. We'll look forward to being with you then.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai