“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”
Last week Thursday, I went to visit a couple in our church. Marcelino and Lurdes were concerned about their unsaved adult son (Ricardo) who lived with them. He had been very difficult to deal with and showed signs of demon possession. From what I saw, I agreed with their concerns. Ricardo would only talk with me a few minutes, but Marecelino and Lurdes and I prayed together for him.
Three days later, we had our Sunday church service. Marcelino and Lurdes, who are usually the first to arrive, didn’t show up. They didn’t answer their phone. By Monday afternoon, rumors were circulating in town, and I went to their house to find police who confirmed the worst news possible: Ricardo had gruesomely murdered Marcelino and Lurdes in their home, then walked to a train track and committed suicide. In Portugal, the average crime is illegally parking, so you can understand how shocking this was. Their story made the front page of the national newspaper. It was straight out of a TV crime show, not something you expect to happen to two members of your flock.
We met with some of our church people in our home that night to cry, talk, and pray. Satan had struck a blow, but the battle was still on. The next day, we were taking 4 unsaved kids from our town to a Bible camp. We asked you to pray for our church, the kids, and us as we juggled camp and two funerals.
We left for camp, sad but more determined to fight the spiritual battle. Satan wasn’t finished fighting either. Of the 4 pastors that sent kids to camp, 1 had his car stolen this week and 2 of them (including us) had vehicles break down. By God’s grace, everyone made it to camp and back. We were also able to return for Marcelino and Lurdes’ “funerals”. We were not allowed to have the services in our church. Instead, they were held at a cemetery or funeral home. Another pastor and I were given 3-5 minutes to speak at each, and we did their best to share Marcelino and Lurdes’ testimonies and the gospel in that short span of time.
Back at camp, the temperatures each day were over 100 degrees. The physical and spiritual fatigue were evident in each missionary’s eyes, but we kept praying and doing our best. On Friday night, at least 3 kids were saved, including Carlos and Tatiana from Montijo!
Today at church I showed the congregation Marcelino’s Bible. On the inside cover, he had written in bold letters, “Saved by God’s grace” April, 2011 (The date of his salvation). What a comfort it is to read those simple words, and know that it made all the difference. Last Sunday, our flock lost two precious members on this earth. This Sunday, we celebrate two young souls that were added for eternity. We didn’t lose two and gain two. Rather, it is a gain of four, and that is a victory! Satan is still raging in Montijo, but he lost the battle this week. Thank you for continuing to pray for the work God is doing in Portugal.
Below are some pictures from camp: