“The LORD gives and the Lord takes away… Blessed be the name of the LORD”

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”

RECAP:

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.

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National headlines

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.

The church praying together
The church praying together

UPDATE:

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.  

Walking to the cemetery with some people from church
Walking to the cemetery with some people from church

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!

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Cooling off at camp. It was over 100 degrees almost every day.

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.

Our dear brother and sister in Christ, Marcelino and Lurdes.  "Saved by God's grace"
Our dear brother and sister in Christ, Marcelino and Lurdes.
“Saved by God’s grace”

Below are some pictures from camp:

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Prayer Needed

I know of no other time in our ministry here in Portugal that we have needed your prayers more.

This afternoon, I received a phone call from a leader in our church named Genilson. With an unsteady voice, he said, “I think something terrible has happened… I just heard that Marcelino and Lurdes were killed.” I immediately left the house, went and picked up Genilson, and drove to the home. There was a crowd of people gathered, and the police had cordoned off much of the street. We soon discovered that Marcelino and Lurdes’ own son had murdered them on Sunday (yesterday) and then committed suicide.

I wish you could have met this dear couple. Three years ago, a Christian doctor in our town shared the gospel with them and they were soon saved. Their lives changed dramatically, and they were some of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met. They were always the first to arrive at church and Wednesday Bible study. They were always eager to help. Just this past week, Marcelino spent his morning at church helping me with some odd jobs.

The last time I saw them both was this past Thursday. They asked if I would come to their home to visit their adult son who lived with them. We had often prayed for him at church, and knew that he was creating lot of problems. He also gave strong indications of being demon possessed. Before speaking with their son, we gathered together in their tiny living room and prayed. Then, Lurdes went to see if the son would come out and talk with me. He appeared from his room, but was unwilling to talk with me for more than just a couple of minutes.

Later that same morning, Marcelino and Lurdes were showing me around their little house that was falling apart. Marcelino kidded with me saying, “Well, if I were to win the lottery, I would fix this place up.” I replied, “You have done better than that. You have an inheritance waiting for you from your heavenly Father. Heaven will make any house or lottery winnings here on earth seem like nothing.” Little did I know how soon that would be a reality for him and his wife.

It’s been a long day. We have cried, prayed, and hugged our brothers and sisters here. Now we need your prayer. While this is a stunning loss for us, we cling tightly to the promise that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” Satan may believe that He has dealt a blow to the cause of Christ in this town, but we choose to believe that God can use this for his glory.

While I have tears in my eyes as I write, my heart is filled with gratitude for each of you who read our letters, pray for us, and care about people here in Portugal. Here are some ways you can pray for us this week:

1. Pray that Marcelino and Lurdes’ family which is all unsaved. Pray that they would allow us to have the funeral at our church. Pray that their death would result in spiritual life for many.

2. Pray for our little congregation. Ask God to use this to bring us closer to each other.

3. Pray for the kids from our church that are going to camp tomorrow. Pray that Tatiana, Carlos, Patrícia, and Felizmina would be saved.

4. Pray that God would protect us from Satan’s attacks. Pray that we would be strengthened with the power of God.