ALUMNI PROFILE – MARK CARPENTER (’81)
In 1985 Mark Carpenter (‘81) started his job as the CEO of Mundo Cristao in Brazil, it was a small operation with four people on staff. Its leading product then was the “Living Bible” in Portuguese. He was four years out of college with an Associate of Arts in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Bethel. Now 25 years later, Carpenter can look back and see the growth of this small company and reflect on what he took away from his Bethel experience. Jaimee Thirion, director of marketing and communications at Bethel, asked him a few questions about his job, college days and family.
JT: How did you end up in Brazil? Is that where you are from?
MC: I was actually born in Mishawaka, while my father was attending Bethel. Two years after graduating, my parents became Missionary Church missionaries and brought the family to Brazil. I grew up here, attending an international school until graduation from a U.S.-style high school program.
JT: What did you learn at Bethel that has helped you during your career?
MC: My Bethel experience was very stimulating, because of the classroom experience with professors who were not only competent professionals, but also serious Christians who took a personal interest in their students. I particularly remember Don Conrad (sociology), Don Taylor (philosophy), Dr. Weaver (art), Nelson Curtis (French, philosophy), Ron Parent (visiting professor in journalism) and Maralee Crandon (communications). My experience as editor of the student newspaper (the Beacon) was rewarding and opened doors for me as an editor, first at a local magazine called Today in Michiana, then at Christian Service Brigade magazines in Illinois, and later as a book editor at Tyndale House Publishers. My experience at Bethel gave me the skills and confidence to pursue a career in my preferred field.
JT: Where do you attribute your success at Mundo Cristao?
MC: A major factor to which we attribute our recent success is the significant economic growth throughout Brazil. Coupled with this scenario is the growth of the evangelical church in the country. By some estimates there are now more than 35 million evangelical Christians here. Thus we have the ideal structure in which to grow a book-publishing house. Secondly, we have consistently benchmarked our enterprise against the very best in the business — not only in Brazil, but also around the world. We prioritize continuing education for our employees (which now number 50), annual participation in book fairs in the U.S. and Germany, and a practice of applying our industry’s best practices and standards throughout the publishing house. As a result, our books have won dozens of awards for excellence and have been positively reviewed in many Christian and secular media across the country. We are now a major supplier of books to Avon Cosmetics in Brazil, for example; through their catalogs we are now selling approximately one million books a year to their customers.
JT: What makes this company different than any other Christian publishing company in Brazil and/or in the U.S.?
MC: We are focused on being the best in the world at what we do: Publishing Christian books for distribution throughout the Portuguese-speaking world. We are set up as a not-for-profit organization. As such, our profits, which we do consistently generate, are not distributed to shareholders but are channeled back into the operation. We seek to publish a line of books consisting of literary works (G. K. Chesterton, Philip Yancey, John Bunyan and many others) as well as very popular books (by authors such as Stormie Omartian, Gary Chapman, etc.). We also publish a popular line of devotional and study Bibles for use by readers in various denominations. We have sales personnel specializing in sales to evangelical, secular and special sales outlets. Our mission is to publish the best Christian texts available in order to serve as an instrument for the transformation of lives.
JT: What do you do when you’re not at work?
MC: I love spending time with my family. My wife, Laurie (who attended Bethel for two years before transferring to Wheaton College), teaches English and theatre at an international high school in Sao Paulo. My oldest son, Alex (23), lives in Long Beach, Calif. He graduated from Biola in 2008 and is now a graduate student at Chapman University. My daughter, Andrea (21), is a junior at a university in Sao Paulo, and our youngest, Nicholas (15), is a high-school sophomore. I also enjoy reading, cultural activities (theater, music, art exhibitions) and travel.
JT: Anything else you want to add about Mundo Cristao, your family life, career, etc.?
MC: It is especially gratifying to identify talented writers, invest in them, place editors to work alongside them, produce and market their books, and then watch how the Lord uses them to speak to a nation of readers. I suppose it must feel like a career in education in which you invest in students and then watch them take off into the world, crafting their lives into instruments of change. In some ways, then, a publishing house is not all that different from an institution of higher learning.