October Prayer Letter: Learning to Let Go

It’s a beautiful, 80 degree, autumn day here in Portugal. Believe it or not, I just finished drinking a pumpkin spice latte while thinking about what to write. Yes, the wonders of pumpkin spice have made it to Portugal as well. 😉

We spent the month of August visiting family and a few of our churches in the States. It was good to be back for a brief visit, and everyone was overjoyed to meet Lucas and see Laura and Samuel as well. When we arrived back in September, we geared up for back-to-school and a flurry of activities. We celebrated our 5th anniversary as an organized church with a wonderful picnic. Over a hundred people came, and it was a sweet day of fun, food, testimonies and good times.

We now have five Bible college students/interns coming to our church. These students are 18-22 years old and are from America, Germany, and Hungary. While most of them don’t speak any Portuguese, they have a sweet spirit and a desire to learn and serve in any way possible. It is encouraging to see the church reaching out to host and befriend them. Pray that we will have a great impact on their lives.

Later this month, we will resume meeting together for deaf church services. But in the meantime, Sarah has been interpreting the hearing services and a few of the deaf have been attending. Two Sundays ago, three deaf people came in right as the service was ending. We weren’t going to waste this opportunity, so we loaded everybody up and went to Burger King. While I wrangled Lucas, Sarah gave a thorough recap of the message while everyone was enjoying their burgers. Flexibility is certainly important! We ask that you pray for Sandra, a deaf lady who came occasionally to church in the past, but now is coming regularly, and seems to be growing in her desire to learn the Bible.

I also began teaching my Old Testament Introduction class in the seminary. There are fifteen students in the class and since it is online, they are from churches all over the country. Pray that I would teach this class with zeal and clarity, and that all of us would grow in our knowledge and love of God’s Word. 

Finally, pray for us that God would give us wisdom to know how to lead the church to grow stronger while becoming less dependent on us. As church-planters, we are used to doing everything from stacking chairs, to marriage counseling, to making sure the pizza gets ordered for the youth activity. This “do whatever it takes” mentality is important in the beginning, but as time goes on, it can become a great hindrance to multiplication. We are constantly learning where to “intervene” and when to let go. Equipping leaders to make decisions and assume responsibility is challenging, and we often feel like we are learning how to do all of this as we go. There are certainly growing pains, and we are finding that working your way out of a job can be a lot of work. Even so, there are promising signs:

  • Four different men in the church preached while we were gone.
  • A very successful ladies Bible study is going on without Sarah’s leadership.
  • Men’s and youth Bible studies take place frequently without my participation.
  • An increasing amount of ministry and decisions are taking place without our presence.

Thank you so much for praying for us and encouraging us as we learn and press on.

Our love be with you all in Christ Jesus,

David and Sarah

August update: Good news from camp

Last week, many of you prayed specifically for the teenagers that went to camp. Thank you! God moved in a special way. Here are some of their encouraging testimonies 

Débora: “I’ve had many doubts about my future and about my purpose here on earth. But after talking with my counselor and my friends at camp, it helped me understand better about my purpose. That made me very happy, and I appreciate your care for me. Thank you very much!”

Debora

Joana: “I came to camp filled with doubts. I actually thought about not coming, because I felt like a hypocrite. Over the past two years I turned away from the Lord radically and began to follow the world and all its ways… So when I got here to camp, I just thought I would do my time and then go back to how I was before. But no. I know here at camp it is easy to say this, but I just want to really follow God now.” 

Joana, Carolina, and Paula

Carolina: “I hadn’t been to church in a long time, and I just thought that this would be one more camp that I would go to just to have fun, but still would just leave the same. But while I was there, I came to the conclusions that this is what I want: I want to follow God.”

Vinicius: “I stopped coming to church because I got busy, and I drifted away from God. I always had a ‘reason’, but eventually I just ran out of excuses. I drifted far from God. But at camp, it was as if the ‘reset’ button was hit. I had forgotten how good it was to be at church and how good it is to praise God. This really helped me return to God’s way.”

Carolina, Paula, Alexandre, Patricia, and Vinicius

David: “I really enjoyed camp. I was far from God, but camp really helped me draw near to Him. I feel that God is really convicting my heart about all that I have been doing wrong. Camp was good for me.”

David listening to preaching

Paula: “I was far from God and everything that was good for me… I felt that I really needed this because I needed to grow and learn, and that is exactly what has happened.”

Patricia gave four weeks of her summer to serve on staff at camp. We praise God for her servant’s heart and desire to use her life for God’s glory.

Some of you prayed for Beatriz, and we ask that you continue to pray for her. We are not sure all that is going on in her heart, but she seems to be resistant and distant. Keep praying for her that God will change her life.

This week, many of the teens gathered at church, on their own initiative, to do a Bible study and sing songs together. It was heartening to see those who had not opened their Bibles or sung songs for so long, praising God and reading His Word.

You know that many times teens and kids make decisions at camp that later fizzle out. Pray that this will be a flame that only grows brighter, and that this will only be the beginning of greater things to come in the lives of each of these teens. 

On a final note, we are in the States for a few weeks, mostly to visit family. God willing, we will return to Portugal on August 31st. Thank you for your prayer and encouragement! May we press on in all that God has called us to do and be.

All pictures were taken by Palavra da Vida Portugal

July Prayer Letter: Pray with us

Last month, when we sent out our prayer letter, I had just recently discovered that I had Covid. Thankfully, I recovered quickly from a mild case, and nobody else in the family got it. It was sweet to see how, once again, our church encouraged and helped us. The nurse responsible for my case was extra cautious and ended up asking for half the church to be tested. It was a little nerve wracking for a few days, but in the end, almost everybody came back negative, and it appears there was no spreading at church. Despite the uncertainty, there was a sweet spirit of understanding and kindness. Dozens of meals were delivered, errands run, prayers prayed, and encouragement given. God was so good to us. 

Since then, the summer has been flying by. It feels that way especially because the kids didn’t finish Portuguese school until July 8th. Imagine that! Once school was done, Laura and Samuel both got to go to camp with other kids from church, and they all had a great time. Otherwise, we’ve mostly been busy with “normal” life and ministry. 

Good times at kids’ camp!

We want to challenge you to pray in a very specific way in the week to come (August 2nd through 7th). During this week, we will be sending twelve teens from our church to camp. Several of these teens are doing well and growing in their walk with the Lord. However, for at least half of them, this week seems like a last ditch effort to awaken their lives spiritually. Will you pray for these teens?

David – Nine years ago, David was just a little boy who came to our kid’s club in the park with his sister, Paula. He made a profession of faith and eagerly came to church at every opportunity. I remember how he would memorize entire psalms in order to get a scholarship to go to camp. But as he grew older, he became more rebellious and ambivalent. He hasn’t been to church in at least three years, but this summer he told me he wants to change, and he agreed to go to camp. Pray that God will stir his heart and that he will repent of his sin and run to Jesus. 

Vinicius and Debora are brother and sister who were baptized a couple of years ago and were sincere in their desire to follow Jesus. However, family problems and Covid have kept them far from church for a long time. Pray that God would mend their hearts and help them to return to church. 

Beatriz, Joana, and Carolina – These are three sisters who attended our church since day one, have been to countless camps and activities, and have heard the gospel over and over again. In 2016, Sarah did many weeks of Bible studies with Joana and she was baptized. Both Beatriz and Carolina also made professions of faith. However, over the past couple of years, these girls have fallen away and are living only for the pleasures of this life. God knows their hearts, but we ask that you would pray that they would truly be saved and follow Jesus. 

Sharing stories like these brings a mixture of sadness and hope to our hearts. Sadness, because we so often see people respond positively to the gospel and then fall away. These are people we care about and love, and it hurts to see them turn their backs on Jesus. And yet there is hope. We believe there will be more to these stories. We pray fervently and believe that God will move in a mighty way at camp. We pray for revival, salvation, repentance, and transformation in these lives. And now we turn to you… We need you to pray, and we want you to share in what God is going to do in the week to come. It would be a huge encouragement to us if you would do the following: pick one of these teens, reply to this e-mail with one line saying something like, “This week, I will pray for David (or whoever God lays on your heart).” Thank you! We look forward to sharing how God will work in the week to come!

Watch our summer update video

June Prayer Letter: God Provides!

In our last update, we mentioned how many needs people in our church and community have. God has supplied for those needs in an amazing way through a grocery store in our town. Every Thursday and Saturday at closing time, volunteers from our church go to the loading dock behind the store and receive everything that is expiring or that can’t be sold anymore. Then comes the fun part – delivering the goods. Usually there is enough food to give to at least four or five families. While the food is greatly appreciated and needed, it has also given us an opportunity to minister to families that are not connected with our church. Also, it is a joy to see the excitement of the volunteers as they are able to be a blessing to so many.

Cartons of delicious food

We also spoke of how we felt overwhelmed trying to minister to everybody and balance our lives. Again, God is providing for our needs, as He sent us two American college students who are doing an internship at a Christian camp here in Portugal. Every weekend, they come and help out however they are able to, despite not knowing Portuguese very well yet. One of the biggest ways they help is by watching Lucas during the service so that Sarah can interpret for the deaf. Also, they are spending lots of time with the youth in the church and are being a blessing to many people. 

Another big praise is that, after many months apart, we met together for an in-person, deaf church service. Thankfully, nine deaf showed up, and it was a very sweet reunion, as well as a bittersweet goodbye. Our colleagues in the deaf ministry, Cal and Joyce Voelker, have retired after 20 years of faithful service to the Lord here. The work with the Deaf has been their “side hustle”, so to speak, as their main ministry was leading an international Christian school. Well before we came to Portugal, Joyce had a burden for the Deaf, and began praying for God to send missionaries to start a work with the Deaf. God sent us, and it was a great joy to serve Jesus with them. Who knows how God will work when you begin to pray for Him to move among the lost. 

Thankful for a great deaf church service

It is always exciting to disciple people who have just recently discovered the gospel. We are discipling and preparing two people for baptism. Amazingly, they are both Portuguese and adults. This, sadly, is a rare thing. The first person, Susana, is one we’ve mentioned before. She is growing in her faith and understanding of the gospel. When we last met with her, she stated that when she began to hear the gospel, she would recoil every time she heard about sin and judgment. But now, she understands the gospel and how God’s grace saves us. It is very encouraging to see how God has worked in her heart. The second person, Paulo, is a man who began to hear the gospel on YouTube a few years ago when he was in a life crisis. Eventually, he was saved and began coming to our church. He also faithfully brings his two sons, Miguel and David. Even though they are young, they listen very closely to the messages and are growing in their understanding of the gospel as well. Pray that both Susana and Paulo would be baptized soon. 

We end with a praise and a prayer request. This past Saturday, I started feeling a little feverish. Wanting to err on the side of caution, Sarah gave me a Covid test which came back positive. Thankfully, I found out before I could have spread it to the many people who would have been at church the next day. God was very merciful to let me find out in time. So far, my symptoms are mild, but pray that God will give us the strength and grace we will need for the next two weeks of quarantine. Please pray as well that there would be no other cases linked to the church. God is good! Let’s keep serving Him!

April Prayer letter

Every month or so, we sit down and write our prayer letter, just like the one you’re reading now. As we try to communicate what has happened since the last time we wrote, we often wonder, “Is this too negative? Does it sound like we’re complaining?” Or, on the flip side, it can be easy to write something glossy and upbeat, but that ends up being artificial. It can be hard to find the right balance. So this time, we’re going to try to show you both sides. Please stick with us to the end.

First, the bad news: The past three months we were in our country’s second lockdown. What did that look like for our family and ministry? It meant feeding a newborn by night and doing Portuguese online school by day. It included hours of recording and editing videos each week for children’s Sunday School and deaf church… and wondering why so few people made the effort to watch. It was listening to people share their conflicts, needs, and anxieties over the phone. It involved buying people food, school supplies, car batteries, or whatever it took to keep them afloat one more week. It meant watching at least 20 people drift away to false doctrine or stop participating in church life altogether. It included fighting our own sinful flesh: resentment toward those we serve, grief over holidays alone, and jealousy toward others who could travel freely or whose family could visit them when they had a baby.

Sarah teaching a Bible story in Portuguese Sign Language (Please ignore the piles of laundry on the table). 😉

So, what were we going to do? Sit around and mope? 

Cue the good news: God isn’t sitting in heaven waiting for Coronavirus to pass, so His work can go on. He wants us to keep looking up and getting up to serve Him, so that’s what we have been doing. Our church has a good testimony at the local food bank because of the church members who have volunteered with me there. Our kids help us make videos for deaf church and Sunday school. It is encouraging to see them participate and be excited about ministering in this way. We are also learning that the videos we make today may be seen by somebody years from now, and it may fall on good ground when we least expect it. Working with people is messy and time-consuming, and yet that is what we are called to do. God is surrounding us with brothers and sisters who are sharing this load, caring for others, and being peacemakers in ways that few people see, but that make a profound difference. We are grateful to serve King Jesus with amazing and dedicated people.

Thankful to serve the Lord together

Though some have fallen away, I can think of at least 20 other people who have started attending church since COVID, and every Sunday, we have around 80 people in attendance. We continue to have to divide into two services because of space constraints, and while this is not ideal, it does mean that more people are involved in serving. Every week, I have at least 3-4 different opportunities to teach and preach the Bible. While “normal missionary life” may seem like doing the same thing over and over again, there is real change taking place, little by little, week after week. While there are always challenges, God’s grace is more than sufficient, and the Gospel is beautiful and powerful. 

Thank you for sticking with us in prayer and in encouragement through the positive and the negative. While we wish we could sit down and share a delicious meal with you and talk for hours, we are thankful for moments like this where we can share a little bit of our hearts with you. Much love from us here in Portugal!

Watch a short clip of  Laura and Samuel explaining about the ressurrection 

February Prayer Letter

“In case of a worldwide pandemic, church business meetings may be conducted on Zoom, as long as there is a quorum.” That is a phrase we did not think to include in our church constitution and bylaws 5 years ago. However, through much prayer and technology, we recently had our best-attended church business meeting ever. Praise the Lord!

Thus began the year. As we turned the calendar to 2021, Portugal rose to #1 worldwide for cases of Coronavirus per capita. Once again, borders, schools, and businesses closed, and church returned to online only. We were reminded of our great dependence on God, and we began with a week of prayer. Each night, more and more people joined us online to pray for revival, for healing, for wisdom, and for souls to be saved. 

2021 continues to be the year of flexibility. As we have not been able to resume Sunday School, the children’s Sunday School teachers have started working together to create videos to teach the kids, and we had our first children’s online Sunday School this past week. We talked about fear through the stories of David and Goliath and the disciples in the storm. It was a blessing to hear 4-year-old Ana Carolina’s tiny voice say, “Because God is such a ‘big guy’, I don’t have to be afraid.”

Where there are needs, there are opportunities to serve and spread light. Just down the street from our church, is “Aunt Teresa´s Restaurant.” She and her family are kind people and have been friends to the church since we opened. She serves traditional Portuguese food with a smile, at a great price, and with generous portions. My favorite dish is a “bitoque” which is fries, rice, steak cooked with lots of olive oil and garlic, and an egg put on top of it for good measure. Aunt Teresa noticed that lots of people in our neighborhood needed food, so she began serving hearty soup for free to whomever had a need. We as a church gave her a generous gift to help in her efforts. She and her family were deeply moved, and while we didn’t do it for the publicity, she made it known far and wide through Facebook and an interview with the local newspaper, that we had been a big help to her. Pray that our testimony and impact in our community will continue to flourish.

We have good news about the work with the deaf! Our coworker, Amanda, has begun an online class for Christian interpreters who want to learn “religious signs” for church services. She has 11 people in the class! Not all of them are proficient interpreters, but they are interested in making their church services accessible for the deaf, and reaching their deaf friends for Christ. We pray this class will help reach the deaf in other towns in Portugal!

We praise God for good physical health, and ask for you to pray for us to remain healthy spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Since mid-January, we have been confined to our homes, except for “essential work”. These days, a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy is a big outing. David is still able to volunteer at the food bank and deliver essential goods to our church members. We take our kids outside for a walk each day. Sarah went for a walk with a church member to visit with her today. We do much shepherding by phone and video calls. But emotional and spiritual depression are a shadow away, leaving both congregations and leadership vulnerable. Please pray for God to be our strength and for us to set our hearts on Him more than on a return to “normal life”.

December Prayer Letter

God has shown our family His protection the past two months. In November, Sarah went for a routine check-up. She was 8 months pregnant and had some unusual pain that morning. They discovered she had appendicitis, and the next day she had surgery to remove her appendix before it ruptured. The surgery caused her to start going into labor, but they were able to slow her contractions enough for the baby to stay in the womb a few more weeks. Thankfully, just after 2 AM on December 5thLucas Benjamin Booth was born, strong and healthy. He is a meek and mild little guy, and all of us are delighted with him. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for this good gift. 

This time of year always leads me to reflect on what has happened (or not) in the year gone by. As a missionary, I would like to think that the work we do is a steady movement forward of, “More people reached with the gospel! Goals achieved! Lives changed! Churches established!” But this year feels like we have done everything possible just to maintain where we are. Some people have fallen away. Others have faced great hardships leaving them drained and discouraged. Not having camps, mission teams, or many other activities that we normally would have throughout the year has affected the spiritual vitality of many of the deaf, as well as teens and kids. Even something as simple as having a church potluck is missed. I used to think it was just one more activity to prepare and to take up my time. And yet now I see how much we miss these moments of fellowship, of rubbing shoulders, and sharing food. Our spiritual lives depend so much upon being together with other people who love Jesus.

But the story of missions throughout the ages is filled with setbacks and challenges. The apostle Paul could have resented the years he spent in prison when he could have been out planting churches. William Carey could have quit when his print shop burned down and his life’s work was lost. There are countless other stories of loss and hardship like these. However, the key is to press on, and that is what we will do by God’s grace. He continues to be at work, and great opportunities lie ahead. Even (especially) in a hard year, God’s grace is evident. Here are some recent highlights:

Reaching new people. Susana went through some challenging times this year. She reached out to a Christian friend of hers that lives in France. This friend suggested that Susana begin attending church. Her friend searched for a church online and found ours. At first Susana just watched the services online, but then eventually she began coming and has come to every service and Bible study since September.

Giving. The church here in Montijo has given far more money to missions and benevolence this year than ever before. It has been encouraging to see a spirit of generosity grow. This is not just the case financially. After Sarah’s surgery left her out of commission for a while, for ten straight days, families in our church brought us meals and helped us with many different tasks. They even delivered a giant box of gifts to our door as a surprise baby shower. Normally, we feel like we are the ones giving and coordinating these things. How encouraging and refreshing it was to see so many people spring into action in our time of need. 

Blessed by our church’s generosity

Opportunities to share the gospel. Back in March, I began volunteering at a local non-profit helping organize and distribute food parcels to needy families in our community. Besides being a great way to meet new people, it has also opened good conversations about the gospel. 

You. God knows what we need, and all of you that pray for us, care for us, and give to make it possible for us to serve the Lord here, are a marvelous gift and blessing to us. We love you all, and are grateful to serve the Lord together with you. May God bless and strengthen you as we begin this new year. 

Thankful for our family

October Prayer letter: inspiring examples

Arlete is a sweet church member who works in a nursing home. One Sunday she commented about the great spiritual needs of the residents with whom she works: “I pray and talk with them about God, but it is always in general terms. I’m not sure how to go about explaining the gospel and leading them to be saved.” I found a booklet that explained the gospel, gave it to her, and said, “Read through this several times until you feel like you know the verses and can explain the main points in a clear and natural way.” The next Sunday, she came up to me with a smile, “I read through that booklet at least 6 or 7 times, and this week I was able to explain the gospel to one of the residents. It felt so good.” Seeing her joy and confidence was such a blessing. It was also sobering to see the urgency of proclaiming the gospel, because just last week, we learned that seven of the residents have COVID, and, sadly, one of them passed away. The need is great, and it is encouraging to know that Arlete is a shining witness in that nursing home. 

Serginho is a hardworking bricklayer who recently moved here with his family from Brazil. Despite great financial hardships, he is always filled with joy. The other day he told me how depraved and hostile his work environment is. One particular coworker delighted in verbally abusing and cursing him. However, Serginho responded as Christians are called to do; he did not repay evil for evil. He would just smile and defuse each situation with a disarming sense of humor. The coworker had never seen anything like this before. As the weeks passed, his heart began to melt, and he began to call Serginho his brother. Not only has this man heard the gospel from Serginho, but he has also seen it in action. 

Both of these examples are convicting and motivating to us. While we’re here as missionaries, it’s easy to get caught up in the activities of the week and forget about the individuals around us who desperately need to hear the gospel. Yet, when we open our front door and look up and down the street, we don’t know of anyone else in sight who is saved. We are trying to use each encounter (with the cashier at the grocery store, with the next person in line at the post office, with the neighbor over the fence, or with a teacher at school) as a conversation that can point that person to hope in Christ.

This past weekend was encouraging and full. We met in person with the deaf for the first time since March. While we only had four come to the service, there were still reasons to rejoice. Vitor and Ines (who are saved and faithfully attend) brought their friends, João and Telma (who are not saved, but have attended our meetings off and on). Toward the end, as we were discussing the Bible message, Vitor looked at João and Telma, and in his very direct deaf way remarked, “You all aren’t saved yet. João, I see you are sort of interested, but Telma, you don’t seem very open.” He certainly laid his cards on the table, and we ask you to pray that one day both João and Telma would look to Jesus and be saved. Pray also that Vitor would experience the joy of seeing his friends come to know Christ. 

Baptism in the Tejo River

 

Baptismal services are always a highlight for us, and this past Sunday was no exception. We gathered on the banks of the Tagus River and sang “Jesus Paid It All” and “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” As the church sang, I waded into the water with David, a teenager, and Carol, a young woman. When we turned around, it was powerful to see everyone looking on with excitement, and it was encouraging to hear David and Carol tell the world that they had decided to follow Jesus. 

Watch our video update!

As pilgrims in this world, we are thankful to walk through this life with you. Your prayer and your caring for Portugal mean so much to us. May each of us be faithful in following Jesus and telling others about Him. 

Trusting God’s Guidance: August Update

Ten years ago today, we said our goodbyes and boarded a plane to Portugal. We stand amazed at God’s goodness in our lives this past decade. As we flip through pictures and reflect, it all seems like a “blessed blur.”

As the years go by, there are seasons and rhythms of life and ministry. Times of plodding and waiting give way to flurries of activity and spurts of growth. Months of frustrations and lack of productivity are sometimes followed by great breakthroughs. Through it all, we must keep trusting the Lord. The eternal importance of what we are doing cannot always be measured by completed projects and finished to-do lists. People and pandemics can upend our best laid plans. While we all want to get back to “normal life,” God is in control, and He is teaching us to be sensitive to

The circumstances this year have forced us to become part time videographers. For each deaf service, we record a Bible reading and sermon, plus we often add special music, a testimony, or a drama. This past week, we were recording in our back yard. Our house is separated from our neighbors with a half-wall, which has afforded us many talks with them as we hang out laundry, water our plants, etc. On this day, Sarah was dressed “normally” as a modern-day person, but I was dressed up as Jesus. We had set up the camera, hit “record”, and just started signing the scene when two people peeked over the fence from the neighbor’s yard. We kept the scene going, and the neighbors just stared at us moving our hands around at each other with David dressed in a tunic. They must have wondered what in the world was going on! So, who knows? Maybe that slightly embarrassing situation will open a chance to explain what we were doing and how they can know Jesus as their Savior, too.

Drama for deaf church

As God would have it, I had a divinely appointed interruption even while writing this letter. I am working at church today, and just as I finished the paragraph above, I got a phone call from a telemarketer. I had to step outside, because I don’t have good reception inside our building. After trading pleasantries for a minute, we concluded our call. But at just that moment, an elderly lady who lives in one of the apartments above our building motioned for me to come over and talk with her. I honestly thought that she was going to complain about the noise we make. But as I approached, her voice quivered and there were tears in her eyes. “Could you give me something to read about God? I just don’t know what to do…” She briefly shared with me about her cancer, her sick husband, and people who have hurt her in the past. I listened, pointed her to God and His Word, and gave her a Bible and some other materials to read. It was a sobering reminder of how we are surrounded by lost and despairing people (even people who live directly above our church building and hear us singing every Sunday). Would you pray for this lady, Fátima, that she would be saved and find in Jesus all the hope her broken heart needs.

Thank you for being our partners in ministry for the past ten years. We look forward to seeing what the future will hold knowing that God is good and is in control. May God fill you with His joy today.

Thank you for praying for us!

Thankful for 10 years in Portugal!

July Prayer Letter: Together Again

What a joy it is has been to gather with our church family in person! After twelve weeks of online-only services, we have been allowed to gather in small numbers again. In order to make room for everyone who wants to attend church, we are having two services each Sunday and livestreaming as well. It is a different feeling. Before, there would be plenty of hugs, kisses, and hearty handshakes. We would cram into every space available and fellowship over food. For now, we are following government regulations and keeping our distance physically, but our hearts are strengthened by being in each other’s presence and worshipping together. We’re so thankful that God does not change, and we are happy to be partially back together again. We have even had visitors almost every week! Praise God!

Working together to be together

Last week, I finished teaching Old Testament Survey to a class of nine students, all of whom displayed a great zeal for learning God’s Word. Through Zoom, we have also continued mid-week Bible studies for the whole church, as well as small-group studies for men, women, and teens.

For deaf church, we pre-record an entire service with music, preaching, and a drama. Then, we meet online to discuss what the deaf learned and to pray together. At the beginning of quarantine, participation was high. But as restrictions have loosened, the deaf are being distracted by everything else again. We are thankful for the spiritual discussions we are having with those who attend. Please pray that God will give the deaf the interest and understanding they need to be saved and to grow.

Most of our summers are jam-packed with camps, mission teams, and activities. This summer is different, but we believe that God is still at work. Fewer big events mean more time for one-on-one conversations. We’ve also been able to complete some little projects that have remained undone for years. We hope to be allowed to do our outdoor Bible club for kids, and we have been encouraging and counseling many people on the phone or through video calls. Pray for us that God would give us great creativity and open doors to know how best to move forward.

A beautiful aspect of the recent pandemic has been the testimonies of our church members. Many share how God has stretched their faith. One member said, “I’ve never read my Bible so much in my life!” Some have faced enormous personal or financial struggles. Rather than staying home having pity parties, they have been encouraging and serving others. One young mother who has had very challenging circumstances said, “At first I was frustrated that more people weren’t calling me to encourage me. Then, God reminded me that I wasn’t here to be served, but to serve.” Ever since, she has been calling and messaging other ladies in the church, including Sarah, to bless and encourage them.

Speaking of a blessing, we have one more praise to share. Lord-willing, we will have a very special Christmas present this year: another Baby Booth. Mommy and Daddy are excited, and Brother and Sister are over the moon.

Next month, we celebrate 10 years of ministry in Portugal. God has been so good to us in providing partners like you who pray for us faithfully, give generously, and care deeply for the work of the gospel here. Thank you for journeying with us.

Looking forward to greater things!

David and Sarah

Laura and Samuel enjoying a beautiful Portugal sunset

Thank you for praying for us.