Great things He has done! July Update

What a great summer! We asked you to pray for all the activities. Are you ready to hear what God has been doing?

In June, we had a group from Texas come to work with the deaf. They did presentations at 2 deaf associations and our church, hung out with deaf people in several settings, and even held an overnight retreat for the deaf. Boy, did Satan ever fight this team! Just weeks before they came, the team’s lead pastor broke his leg in two places, keeping him and his wife from coming, and reducing the team to just 4 people. Sickness hit our family, having us in the ER twice and knocking one of us out of participating the first two days. Strange situations happened with cars, keys, etc. The Portuguese deaf who had been excited about the team coming suddenly had every excuse not to attend the meetings. It felt like Satan was doing anything to keep this team from ministering here. Despite it all, we prayed and pushed forward. And God surprised us. Because the team was with us, we got special permission to attend a senior citizens event at the deaf association. The whole time, we felt like it was a big clique, and we were in no way wanted there. We tried chatting, but most of the deaf there preferred watching TV or playing checkers or billiards with their cronies.

At a deaf association

One deaf man was friendly, though. He is from India, and his name is Nileshdarji. We invited him to our deaf retreat that weekend. We had planned for up to 30 people. God brought 3 . . . But one of them was Nileshdarji. For 2 days, we had almost uninterrupted time to talk to Him about the Lord. He was Hindu, but on Sunday he asked Jesus to save him! Since then, he has attended church and Sunday School. We are working with him to make sure he is seeing Jesus as his only Savior, not just adding him as another god in his life. We rejoice in God using the team to reach Nileshdarji! Please pray for his spiritual growth.

Watch Sarah sing, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” in Portuguese Sign Language

Last week was Bible camp! This year was amazing, in large part because of a mission team that came from Kansas. They couldn’t speak Portuguese, so they couldn’t minister directly with all the campers, but they served in dozens of ways to free up the missionaries to work with the campers. Because the team cooked, washed dishes, life guarded at the lake, set up games, pitched tents, and baby-sat our own children, we missionaries could sit down with campers to talk about their devotional life, swim with campers while talking about their testimony at school, give lessons, lead music, and spend most of the time investing directly in the campers instead of coordinating logistics. It was a beautiful week! Of the 10 campers we brought, 3 of them accepted Jesus as their Savior!

Cooling off in the lake
Hot days at camp! One day it reached 108 degrees.

–Vinicius had heard the gospel all his life. Last year at camp, he felt convicted to receive Jesus as his Savior, but lacked the courage to do so. This week at camp, he asked Jesus to save him, and boldly told of his profession of faith to the whole church this past Sunday.

–Beatriz asked Jesus to save her a couple years ago, because she had seen her sister and her sister’s friend, Joana and Paula, do it. This week, she asked Jesus to save her, not for them, but for herself.

Joana, Beatriz (in the middle), and Paula

–André has visited church and Bible club a few times. All this is new to him, but he asked Jesus to save him this week, too.

–A six-year-old boy, Timóteo, attended kids’ camp a different week, and he got saved, too.

In the end, God used two mission teams and your camp sponsorships. He heard your prayers. In His grace, He saved one man, two teenagers, a boy, and a girl this month. Five more people in Portugal are His children. Thank you! Thank you, God!

Watch our video: “A Recent Sunday”

 

June News

Let’s dive right into the news from Portugal:

School’s out! During the past school year, I taught religion and morality in two schools in our town. (Public schools in Portugal offer these classes as electives). While my classes were small, the time was well spent, as I had many good conversations about the gospel with my students. Plus, teaching in the schools is a good testimony in our community and a way to meet more people. Pray especially for Victoria, a student who would often bring four or five friends along with her to class. We’ve asked prayer for her before, and now we ask again that you would pray for her salvation.

I also taught Old Testament Survey at a seminary. During the fall semester, I taught a class on campus, but during the spring semester I taught through distance learning to ten students in the Azores (islands in the north Atlantic that are a part of Portugal). Every Friday night, I sat in my living room and taught for three hours through a web cam to the students who gathered in three locations on two different islands. Despite the distance, the class went well, and we all enjoyed the experience. I promised the classes that I would come and visit them, and, over the past couple of weeks, I did just that. It was a joy to meet the students face to face and get to preach and teach in their churches on their islands. It was encouraging to see what God is doing in their lives.

Fátima and the pope.  Last month, Pope Francis came to the village of Fátima, Portugal, which is one of the most important shrines in Roman Catholicism. The pope’s visit captivated the attention of most of the country. Millions stopped to watch the proceedings, and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims went by foot to Fátima. Portugal is increasingly secular, but Catholicism remains strong in many parts of the country.

I’ve visited Fátima several times in the past, and always left saddened and overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness. How do you make a difference with something that seems so vast and deeply entrenched in a culture? But this time would be different. I joined an evangelistic team that was doing a special outreach to the pilgrims walking to Fátima. Eight of us spent the day on the side of a road handing out water, coffee, tea, and fruit to the thousands who passed us by. We sang songs, prayed, and handed out gospel bracelets with a tract. It was sad to see the many groups of pilgrims praying to Mary or singing songs to Mary. Mary was receiving all the attention and affection that is due only to Christ. While we will only know in eternity the effect of our work that day, it was a joy to share the gospel and that Christ alone is sufficient for all we need.

Camp and Deaf team. Summer is a new season of ministry filled with camp, Bible clubs, and mission teams. Pray especially for a team from Texas that is coming to work with the Deaf. We will have many activities including an over-night retreat. Pray that this team will be used of God bring an awakening among the Deaf in Portugal. Pray also for the many kids and teenagers that we work with that will be going to camp and Bible clubs.

Speaking of camp, we want to invite you to sponsor a child or a teenager and send them to camp. For the past three summers, many of you have given generously to this ministry.  If you are able to and choose to help, you will receive a personal, handwritten letter from the child or teenager you sponsor, in addition to their picture and a link to see a video recap of the week of camp. Also, each camper is doing a scholarship program where they have to learn verses and do service projects to earn their way to camp. We will have at least 25 kids and teenagers attending several different camps throughout the summer.

Giving is easy. Just click the “give” link below. Any amount is appreciated, but $50 covers the cost of one camper.

Pray that God would bring much fruit in all that is done. As always, we are deeply grateful for your prayer and support. Your prayer and encouragement is the fuel we need to press on and go farther in the work to which God has called us. With love, David and Sarah

Here are some pictures from our time as a family in the Azores:

Teaching the Bible in the Azores Islands

During the past school year, I’ve been teaching Old Testament survey at a seminary here in Portugal. During the fall semester, I taught a class on campus, but during the spring semester I’ve been teaching through distance learning to ten students in the Azores islands. Every Friday night, I sit in my living room and teach for three hours through a web cam to the students who are gathered in three locations on two different islands. Despite the distance and the technical challenges we sometimes face, the class has gone well, and we all have enjoyed the experience.

At the beginning of the semester, I promised the class that I would come and visit them. Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to the island of Faial where I spent a couple days with the students and their church. On Friday, we had our class, except this time I was right there with them instead of on a screen. The next day, I taught a class on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit to a group from the church. It was a good time of fellowship, and I enjoyed getting to know the people better.

Being in the Azores was a change for me. Since we live just outside of Lisbon, we are used to traffic, a fast-paced life, and all the conveniences that come with living in a big city. The island of Faial, where I was at, is remote and isolated.  With a population of 15,000 people, it’s basically a small town on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery is gorgeous and the people are friendly, but there are few born-again Christians.

One of our goals when we came to Portugal was to strengthen churches and train leaders. Teaching this class has enabled me to do just that. It is gratifying to see people growing in their knowledge of Scripture and applying that in ministry in their churches. Thank you for your part in helping make all of this possible.

Horta is the main town on the island of Faial.
There is so much scenery like this.
Cows are a big deal in the Azores.
Beautiful Portugal
I climbed Pico, the tallest mountain in Portugal. Sadly, this was the view I had from the top.
This was the view of Pico I had when I was flying out. Amazing!
The best part of the trip was getting to be with these people. Thanful for a good church proclaiming the gospel on this island.

Fátima, the pope, and the gospel

Doing my part!

Last week, Pope Francis came to Portugal to canonize (declare to be a saint) two children – Francisco and Jacinta. Supposedly, Francisco, Jacinta, and their sister, Lúcia, who was already canonized several years ago, witnessed an apparition of Mary on May 13, 1917. This apparition was repeated six more times on the 13th of every month until October of that year. Over time, these apparitions gained notoriety and pilgrims began to flock to the village of Fátima where the children were from. This village is now one of the most important shrines in roman Catholicism, and millions of people visit every year to venerate and pray to Mary.

The pope’s visit captivated the attention of most of the country. Millions stopped to watch the proceedings, and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims went by foot to Fátima. Portugal is an increasingly secular country, but Catholicism remains strong, especially in the north. Many still cherish traditions such as Fátima and all that it entails.

I’ve visited Fátima several times in the past, and always left saddened and overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness. How do you make a difference with something that seems so vast and deeply entrenched in a culture?

But this time would be different. A friend of mine and member of our church, Alessandro, invited me to go with him and help a Christian organization that was doing an evangelistic outreach to the pilgrims who were walking to Fátima.

There were about eight of us that spent the day on the side of a road. Thousands of people passed by on their way to Fátima and to see the pope. Many of them had walked over 200 miles from towns and villages all over the country. We handed out water, coffee, tea, candy, and fruit. We sang songs, smiled, prayed, and handed out gospel bracelets with a tract. We called these bracelets, “the pilgrim’s bracelet” because we thought it would make it more likely for people to accept them. Who could refuse a “pilgrim’s bracelet”?

All day long, groups of pilgrims would pass by. Many times, they would be praying to Mary or singing songs to Mary. Mary was receiving all the attention and affection that is due only to Christ.

While we will only know in eternity the effect of our work, it was encouraging to at least be doing something. Throughout the day, we prayed with people, shared the gospel, and showed the love of Jesus. May He be exalted, and may the thousands that gathered to venerate Mary discover that all that they need is found in Christ.

Thank you for praying for Portugal!

Foot massage for a weary traveler.

 

Coffee, tea, and snacks for the pilgrims.

 

The gospel bracelets we handed out.

 

Thousands of pilgrims passed by us.

The following pictures were taken on a different day when I was in Fátima. You can see the sadness and despair in the faces of the people.

The woman on the left has a very sad look on her face.

Planting and Watering in Portugal

Writing a prayer letter is always a time of reflection for us. It forces us to ask, “What have we been doing the past month or so?” Many times the answer is “We’re doing the same things we were doing the last time we wrote a prayer letter.” But the truth is that God works in the everyday routine of life. Miracles often happen over the span of several years or decades rather than instantaneously.  So, what do we do? We keep planting and watering in the lives of those God has put around us. Here is what some our spring “gardening” has looked like.

“What does the Bible say about homosexuality?” “Will we be able to eat in Heaven?” “What happens if you sin after you are saved?” For over an hour, we discussed these and other questions at our most recent teen Bible study. Often I come away from these times feeling frustrated – those that are saved seem to grow so slowly, and those that are not saved seem to be more hard-hearted. However, this time gave me a glimpse of hope. More is going on in the hearts of these teens than I can see.

Our couples’ banquet had delicious food and a good message. The best part was that four unsaved husbands came, some of whom do not visit church. Since the banquet, I have started Bible studies with two of those husbands. Please pray for these men, that they will be saved, and for their wives as they live out their testimonies in front of them.

Couples’ Banquet

One of the couples at the banquet has since joined the church. We are thankful for Alessandro, Rute, and their children. This family has a heart to serve and is already reaching out to the youth group.

Over spring break, we brought 11 children to Bible camp about an hour away. Some were from our church, but others were friends or family of our church members. Two of those, Iara and Miguel, accepted Jesus as their Savior! Please pray that they will be allowed to come to church to learn and grow in their new faith.

Camp

Another area of growth that encourages us greatly is in the area of missions. The church recently gave a generous offering to a missionary family in North Africa. We hope to take our first church mission trip this Fall to visit this family.

Our deaf colleague, Amanda, has been doing one-on-one Bible studies with two deaf ladies for months. At our last deaf service, one of the ladies, Denise, said she had accepted Christ as her Savior! Praise God!!! Since we came to the mission field in Portugal, this is the first deaf person we have known come to Christ! We have yearned and prayed and toiled for deaf souls for seven years, and we are finally seeing the first fruit. Please pray for Denise to be a bold testimony to her unsaved husband and friends, and please pray for us as we nurture her.

Sarah, Denise, and Amanda

God is working in Portuguese people. For some, it happens quickly; for others it takes years. We are grateful to be here planting and harvesting in the field.

See what’s happening in Portugal today

This month, we took a big step as a church: we began Sunday school! Come with us on a guided tour.

In one corner of the church, the sounds of children singing rings out. Ruben and Susana, a young couple, are teaching their class to memorize the books of the Bible through song.

Learning the Bible
Learning the Bible

Next door is the 3-5-year-olds’ class. While they are fewer in number, their teacher, Carla, is no less dedicated. She spent many hours last week making a puppet stage. She’s using it now to teach the kids the story of creation.

At the other end of the building, Pedro and Filipa, another young couple, are teaching the teenagers about Ephesians 6 and spiritual warfare.

Moving on, we see a class we never expected – the Deaf class taught by our missionary colleague, Amanda Bloom. Up until this year, we had always had separate services for the Deaf. But, a handful of the deaf want to meet each week for their own Sunday School and join the interpreted church services as well. Portuguese Sign Language lacks many religious signs, so, today in Sunday School, Amanda is explaining what a prophet is, and the deaf are deciding what sign they will use for “prophet”.

Finally, in the main area of the church, Sérgio is teaching the adults about wisdom from Proverbs.

Click the link below to watch the video guided tour:

https://vimeo.com/205667363

Seeing all of this makes our hearts soar with gratitude and excitement. The most gratifying part in all of this is seeing the dedication of the teachers and how they are beginning to disciple the lives of those in their classes.

Sometimes we write prayer letters and fail to give you clear ways to pray for us. This time, we want to give you a list. We need you to:

  1. Pray for our family. Pray that God would protect and bless our marriage. Pray for Laura and Samuel to grow to love God with all their hearts.
  2. Pray that God will give us great wisdom to know how to best use our time. We don’t want to waste the momentum and growth that we are seeing presently. In the weekly routine of life, we want to make the most of the good things God is doing and the opportunities that are before us.
  3. Continue to pray for an awakening among the deaf. It is encouraging to see 4-5 deaf in church every Sunday now, but pray for others that seem to be drifting away (Carlos, Sergio, Julia, and Carli).
  4. Pray for Paula. She has been coming faithfully to church for nine months now. She takes meticulous notes during the messages and asks great questions. Pray that she will soon call on Jesus to save her.
  5. Rejoice that some of the people who had fallen away in the past, such as Florbela and Horácio, seem to be coming back to the Lord. Pray for others such as Mario, who continue to stray.
  6. Pray for souls to be saved. God is doing a beautiful work in Montijo, yet there are thousands who still need Him as their Savior. We want to be a church that supports those within while continuing to reach out.

It’s a joy to serve our Savior together with you. May God bless and strengthen you today.

January Prayer Letter

A new year brings new changes for our church! When our church plant started almost four years ago, we were tiny and needed assistance from other local churches. Some helped with music, others came simply to make the church feel fuller and more inviting. Most of these helpers served in their own churches in the morning or evening, so we purposely scheduled our service in the afternoon to give them time to travel between their service and ours. Thankfully, over the years, our church plant has grown and taken on the responsibilities others once covered. Thus, we voted to move our service to a more traditional morning hour. This month, morning services began, and they have been very sweet. Attendance continues to be strong, and most people love the change. Most importantly, we moved the hour, so we could officially begin Sunday School. Our teachers’ meeting is Saturday night, and we hope to  start classes in February. Please pray that God will give the teachers eagerness and a desire to “rightly divide” the Word of Truth to the children or adults in their classes.

A recent Sunday
A recent Sunday

The new year is full of new people. God has brought around 20 new people to our church in the past 6 months. All of them are in different stages of their walk with Christ. Some are mature believers who want to serve. Others are new believers or still unsaved. Regardless, they each require time, and each day still has 24 hours. Please pray that we will know how to guide, strengthen, and incorporate each of them into the church in Montijo. Please pray for discernment for us in how to use our time, in whom to invest, and how to properly delegate responsibilities so the church functions well as a body.

The new year brings new opportunities with the deaf. From a human perspective, the deaf work seems to be going backwards. Attendance at services has dropped. They have not stepped out in faith to receive Jesus, and often forget what we have taught them. We look at our colleagues and ask each other, “What more can we possibly do?” However, from God’s perspective, He knows just what He is doing, He loves the deaf more than we do, and He alone can save them. So, “What more can we do?” We can pray more. We often teach concepts that have no signs in their language, and they are both learning the idea creating the sign at the same time. Pray for the deaf to understand and for us to have wisdom. The deaf spend much time at deaf associations, parties, or work, and few have transportation. Pray that they will not use these as excuses, but that they will prioritize learning the Bible. Portuguese deaf have a herd mentality in that they do not want to step out, be different, or even learn something if the whole group does not participate. Please pray they will have the courage to learn the Bible, accept Christ, and follow Him, at the risk of being excluded from their group. We have tried church services, Bible studies in homes, deaf outings, and filming Bible stories and songs in Portuguese Sign Language. Pray that we will not depend on our own ideas and efforts, but rather be vessels for Him to use His way in His hands. Finally, we have a deaf team coming from America this summer. This will be the first time most Portuguese will meet a pastor who is deaf. Please pray for God to use the deaf pastor and deaf team as He wants to reach the deaf in Portugal. We are looking forward to seeing what God does in Portugal in 2017. All for His glory!

David is enjoying teaching Old Testament Introduction to a seminary class
David is enjoying teaching Old Testament Introduction to a seminary class

 

Our end of the year thank you note

As we reflect on the year gone by, we can’t help but be filled with appreciation for all that God has done.

We especially want to express our gratitude for you. We are thankful for:

  • People who read and watch our updates and deeply care about the work of the gospel here in Portugal.
  • The twenty-two people from our partner churches who came and served with us this year. They encouraged us greatly, and their work is bearing fruit to this day.
  • The hundreds of people who faithfully pray for us every day or week. God hears and answers your prayer.
  • The messages of encouragement, cards, Skype calls, and letters we receive.
  • The many churches and individuals that support us financially. It never ceases to amaze us how God provides for every one of our needs and even beyond that. Thank you for giving generously so that we can serve here in Portugal.

We pray that God will fill your lives with great peace and joy in the year to come.

With love,
The Booths

We were blessed to attend David’s brother’s wedding in the States and see his family . . .
. . . and on the way back we saw Sarah's parents in Central America where we climbed these Mayan ruins.
. . . and on the way back we saw Sarah’s parents in Central America where we climbed these Mayan ruins.

Enjoy a few more pictures from our travels:

It has been a long day.
It has been a long day.
Chick-fil-a makes us happy!
Chick-fil-a makes us happy!

img_1851 img_1903

David with his family
David with his family
With gramps
With gramps

 

What’s happening in Portugal?

I hurried down the hall of our town’s high school into my Religion and Morality class. I had about a dozen other things I needed to do, and I wasn’t in the mood to be there. Lately only two or three students had been showing up for class, and my motivation was lagging. This day would be the same; only two girls came. We sat down, I handed out Bibles for the girls to use, and I was about to begin my lesson. One of the girls, Cátia, looked at the Bible in front of her with a mix of confusion and curiosity. “Have you read the Bible before?” I asked her. “No, I haven’t.” She replied. “Actually, this is the first time I’ve ever opened a Bible.” I sat there thinking about the significance of the moment, and it struck me that there was nothing on my “to-do” list more important than this. We turned to the Gospel of Mark, and we began to read the words of Christ. Pray with us for Cátia and for the classes I teach.

Over the past months, we’ve written about several different people. Let’s catch you up on them.

Remember Sheila? This past summer, we gave out over 7,000 invitations to our church, and she was the only one who responded. She has come to church ever since, and this past Sunday, we had a baby dedication ceremony for her daughter. Six of her unsaved family members were present and heard the gospel preached. Sometimes the fruit of our work takes months to appear.

We also told you about Paula, a lady who lives just around the corner from our church. This past summer, she had family from Africa come and stay with her. Since they are believers, they brought Paula with them to church one Sunday. Paula’s family has since gone back to Africa, but she continues to come to church faithfully. There is no one who listens more intently to the messages and takes more copious notes than she does. She is carefully considering what it means to follow Jesus. Pray that she will soon make that most important decision.

This past spring, Sarah led Marina to the Lord. Through the ups and downs, Marina is growing in her faith. Sarah continues to disciple her every week. Despite the challenges, Marina is learning that Jesus is enough even when He is all she has.

Many of you have prayed for Carlos, our deaf friend, for many years. Recently, he hasn’t been coming to our deaf church services, mostly because he keeps a very busy schedule. Keep praying for his salvation, and pray that the cares of this world would not suffocate the truth that has been planted in his life. Carlos is very influential, and when he misses church, at least four or five other people also do not come. Don’t stop praying for an awakening in the deaf in Portugal.

Finally, we want to mention our missionary colleagues, David and Michelle Wears. They are currently raising support to come to Portugal as church-planting missionaries. We look forward to the day when we will be able to work together with them. Take a moment to visit their website: www.wearsportugal.com and pray for them.

Thank you for caring about what God is doing in Portugal. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Laura and Samuel exploring a castle
Laura and Samuel exploring a castle

Joana and Paula’s Baptism

I remember an adorable little 9-year-old girl with glasses sitting in an English lesson and giggling as the mission team taught her 5 years ago. I didn’t know her name. I thought she was cute and tried to get a Rephoto of her, but she was wiggling so much, the pictures all were blurry. A couple of years later, she shot her hand in the air at Bible club and said she’d asked Jesus to be her Savior. She has come to church and every activity possible since then. She’s grown into a faithful 14-year-old who loves God, and we sure know her name now: Paulinha or “Little Paula” as everyone calls her.

I also remember a cold spring Sunday in 2014. 8-year-old Joana had asked her Sunday School teacher about getting saved the week before. He’d explained everything to her and told her to think and pray about it. She had, and she wanted to get saved! She came out of the Sunday School room. She was bundled in her winter clothes and hat, and she and her teacher both had tears in their eyes. We all hugged Joana and rejoiced that she’d accepted Jesus as her Savior. Since then, Joana has grown into an 11-year-old young woman who is also faithful to church.

Take a moment to watch this video of the baptism

Both Joana and Paula asked to be baptized, so every Wednesday after school, I picked them up, drove them to a café, and we sat down with our Bibles and pastries. After months of discipleship and preparation, on October 9th, Joana and Paula were baptized! Each has one sibling who attends church. Otherwise, their families are completely unsaved and unchurched. But, both girls had dozens of family members and friends who came, saw the baptism, listened to the girls’ testimonies, and heard David preach the plan of salvation. It was a beautiful day — one that I will always remember.

-Sarah

Joana and Paula with Sarah
Joana and Paula with Sarah