Carlos Wizard Martins: Brazilian entrepreneur and Latter-day Saint

As Antônio Martins entered an elevator in Curitiba, Brazil in the late 1960s, he noticed that the elevator operator was reading a book that looked like a Bible. “Brother, do you read the Bible?” asked the young father and businessman.

Jose Athaydes, the elevator operator and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, replied, “I read the Book of Mormon. Are you also Mormon? What branch do you belong to?

Antônio Martins, who did not know the Church, answered: “I belong to the branch of business and commerce.

With a smile, Athaydes asked if he could send missionaries to visit his house. When Antônio Martins asked what they were going to talk about, Athaydes simply replied: “About Jesus Christ”.

It’s a story that Carlos Wizard Martins, the eldest of Antônio and Hilda Martins’ seven children, often tells. He well remembers the day when the missionaries dressed in suits, white shirts and ties came to their house, accompanied by Athaydes. Carlos and his parents joined the Church when he was 12 years old.

Now a 65-year-old father, grandfather and one of Brazil’s most successful entrepreneurs, Carlos Martins’ eyes fill with tears when he thinks of Athaydes, his willingness to share the gospel of Jesus- Christ and the influence he had on generations of the Martin family.

“He was a very simple man,” Carlos Martins said of Athaydes. “He used to cycle to work. He didn’t have much education. He was never a leader in the Church; he was just a member. But somehow he believed that every member was a missionary.

Athaydes, 90, still lives in Curitiba. Antônio Martins passed away on April 6, 2022, at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of faith.

Carlos Martins, right, is pictured with his father, Antônio Martins, middle, and his wife, Vânia Martins, left, at a Latter-day Saint church in Orem, Utah, shortly before Antônio died in April 2022.

Provided by Carlos Martins

Antônio Martins’ seven children have served or will serve a mission (one is preparing to serve a senior mission with her husband), in addition to several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “We are indeed a missionary family,” Carlos Martins told Church News.

Carlos Martins’ missionary service includes a full-time mission in Portugal as a young man, presiding over the Brazilian João Pessoa Mission from 2001 to 2004, and a humanitarian mission from 2018 to 2020 helping Venezuelan refugees. Now he and his wife, Vânia, serve as ward missionaries in Taquaral Ward, Campinas Brazil Castelo Stake. They have six children and 19 grandchildren.

“I like the concept that when you open an apple, you can count the number of seeds. But once those seeds turn into an apple tree, you can never know how many fruits that tree will give,” Carlos said. Martins: “That’s what I believe now, that’s the great impact the gospel has had in my family.”

Influence of the gospel on the career of Carlos Martins

Carlos Wizard Martins, born Carlos Roberto Martins, is known in Brazil for establishing the Wizard Language Institute, which he made part of a chain of 3,000 English learning schools. He sold his multi-million dollar business in 2013. Since then, he and Vânia have expanded their investments and philanthropy.

Brigham Young University graduate Carlos Martins has said throughout his career that the Lord has often placed like-minded people in his path, people with similar purpose, direction, and values. He also found answers in the scriptures—not necessarily in the words on the page but in the feelings of the Spirit.

“I believe the Holy Spirit touched me, influenced me in many of my decisions, day-to-day decisions in fact,” he said. “Somehow, in ways we don’t fully understand, the Lord directs our way.”

For him, inspiration comes through intuition and conversation with others. As he discusses an idea and solicits feedback, his plan is adjusted and it becomes a more solid concept. “That’s what we call in the Church ‘the advocate,'” he said.

Starting a project is like walking through a dark tunnel with only the light from a cellphone, he explained. “If you’re paralyzed, if you’re not moving because you’re scared, all of a sudden the battery will drain and you’ll be completely lost during that time.

“But if you have faith, and you believe in yourself, the people, the project and your plans, you’re going to follow one meter, two meters, three meters, four meters until you see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

This lesson in stepping forward in faith proved invaluable not only in Carlos Martins’ business ventures, but also in his family’s Church service.

Serve at the border

As Carlos and Vânia’s son, Nicholas Martins, prepared to serve a full-time mission, they feared he could not serve for two years away from home due to developmental issues. Vânia suggested that she and Carlos do a service mission and take Nicholas with them.

The timing was inspired, Vânia Martins said, because the Brazil region presidency was looking for a couple who could work with Venezuelan refugees in Boa Vista, the capital of the Brazilian state of Roraima, which borders Venezuela. They accepted the mission.

Carlos Martins, right, is pictured with his eldest son Nicholas Martins, middle, and his wife, Vânia Martins, left.

Carlos Martins, right, is pictured with his eldest son Nicholas Martins, middle, and his wife, Vânia Martins, left.

Provided by Carlos Martins

She will never forget the heartbreaking scenes she saw when they arrived in Boa Vista in July 2018. The refugee camps were overcrowded and thousands of people were sleeping on the streets, hungry, sick and desperate for food. assistance. There were elderly people and pregnant women, as well as young families with babies who needed diapers and clothes. She was overwhelmed.

“When we arrived, I saw so many problems that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the job,” recalls Vânia Martins. “I started praying, ‘Heavenly Father, give me some of your love for these people. Put some of that love in my heart so that I can do this job.

His prayers were answered and love came. “I started to see them as God does. I began to have compassion, the compassion that Christ showed. … With that feeling, it became easy to help them, helping them solve their problems as best we could,” she said.

Carlos Martins is pictured with a young child in the Venezuelan refugee camp in Boa Vista, Brazil.

Carlos Martins is pictured with a young child in the Venezuelan refugee camp in Boa Vista, Brazil, where Carlos and his wife, Vânia, served a humanitarian mission from 2018 to 2020.

Provided by Carlos Martins

Carlos Martins, too, was at first intimidated by the task at hand and made a similar plea to the Lord for help: “A very strong feeling came to me and said, ‘Calm , it’s easy Carlos. This job is not yours. This work is mine.

“At that time I became very humble because I thought I was doing everything. I thought I was solving all the problems. But in reality I was just a small instrument in the hand of the Lord and he took care of her children.

Thanks to the compassion of Vânia and the business connections of Carlos, as well as the support of various organizations, the Martins helped to relocate some 20,000 refugees to other regions of Brazil to find work and have a brighter future. sustainable.

Carlos Martins, right, and his wife, Vânia, middle right, are pictured with a family of Venezuelan refugees at the airport in Boa Vista, Brazil.

Carlos Martins, right, and his wife, Vânia, middle right, are pictured with a family of Venezuelan refugees at the airport in Boa Vista, Brazil. During their 2018-2020 mission, the Martins helped relocate some 20,000 refugees to other parts of Brazil for a more sustainable future.

Provided by Carlos Martins

Carlos and Vânia Martins were recently named Freedom Award recipients at the 2022 Freedom Awards Gala in Provo, Utah for their service on the Brazil-Venezuela border.

“What we do for missionary work in the Church brings a lot of joy”, Vânia Martins. “It’s a different kind of joy that we can’t find in other things.”

“Like, Share, Invite”

During the pandemic, after his return from Boa Vista, Carlos Martins received a message from a woman who wanted to talk to him about his faith on an Instagram live. Soon Vânia Martins and the woman’s husband joined in the conversations.

Carlos and Vânia invited the couple to go to church and meet the missionaries. A few months later, the woman, her husband and her children were baptized.

They continue to host weekly Instagram Lives to talk about the gospel. “We’ve been doing this for two years now, a weekly devotional Instagram live on Sunday nights,” Carlos Martins said. Dozens of viewers across Brazil requested copies of the Book of Mormon and visits from missionaries. Many went to church and some were baptized.

The Instagram Live experience reminds Carlos Martins of the “love, share, invite” principles that Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized during the April 2022 general conference.

“That’s what we did, really. We like, share and invite people on the internet,” said Carlos Martins.

Vânia Martins added, “We have seen the difference the gospel makes in their lives. This joy we see in them is the joy we also feel.

And it is the same joy that Carlos Martins feels when he thinks of José Athaydes, the elevator operator, and the countless fruits that have come from his willingness to literally open the doors of the gospel to the Martins family. in the elevator that day.

Jerry B. Hatch