Last Monday, we said good-bye to a mission team from Tennessee. Their time here in Portugal was a great encouragement to us. The team was made up of a female college student and two women who each brought their teenage daughters. Also, my Uncle John, Aunt Karen, cousin Layci, and her friend were here doing a mission trip, and their time overlapped some. In total, it was 13 days of lots of work and many blessings.
Here’s what happened:
We had a youth activity, and we had 6 youth from Montijo show up. There were two teenage girls that came with the mission team who were able to share their testimonies with the youth here. It was a great time of playing games, fellowship, and testimonies.
We went to a senior citizens’ community center and did an English activity. The group sang some American folk songs, we played games, and shared about our respective cultures. Afterward, we ate brownies and cake. While we were not allowed to share the gospel openly during this event, we were able to make good contacts and build relationships in our community. During our Q&A time, several of the senior citizens asked why this group was here in Portugal. It gave us the chance to share that they came to tell people about Jesus and help the church here in Montijo. That response piqued the curiosity of the people and several other related questions followed.
We had a church dinner. On Wednesday night, instead of our regular Bible study, we had dinner and a time of prayer and praise. It was a sweet time of fellowship, and we really felt that our church bonded quickly with the mission team.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, we did VBS in the neighborhood where we do our Saturday children’s Bible club. We had between 17 and 25 kids each day. It was exciting to see the kids waiting for us in the park each morning. On the last day of VBS, Sarah told the story of Saul’s conversion and at the end gave an invitation. After the invitation, a ten-year-old girl named Paula raised her hand and exclaimed, “I just prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior.” What wonderful words to hear. This girl has come to our Bible club for a year now, and has heard the gospel many times. It is heartening to see God’s Word take root in this young life.
On Saturday afternoon, the ladies on the team hosted a women’s Bible study. The women who came left edified and encouraged.
While we could mention many more activities, these are a few of the highlights. Looking back, we can now see several important factors that made this missions trip such a success.
1. They prayed with us and with our church. How precious it was at church on Wednesday night to hear people praying in Portuguese and in English. Our time praying together did much to knit our hearts together.
2. They showed love to our people and showed genuine interest in their lives. A good missions trip is not just about doing a project; it is connecting with people.
3. They took good care of us and were extremely flexible. Hosting a mission team can be a lot of work, but this team did so much to make their stay here as easy possible. They did everything from taking care of Laura to washing dishes to buying our meals when we ate out. We are so grateful for their generosity!
4. They worked with us. It is one thing to pass out tracts by yourself. It’s something entirely different when you have an entire platoon of people to help you out. We passed out thousands of tracts while they were here. What was really neat was that they got to meet some people who have started coming to church as a result of the tract distribution they did last year. Besides passing out tracts, they did everything from stacking chairs to cleaning the church to performing drama for VBS.
5.They strengthened us and increased our boldness. One incident in particular stands out in my mind… One day we were passing out tracts and my Aunt Karen went up to give a tract to an older man who was just getting out of his car. I was across the street and as I saw her approach this man my first thought was, “Oh boy, that may not be such a good idea. She doesn’t speak a lick of Portuguese. This probably will be a little embarrassing.” Yes, I am ashamed to admit that was my first thought. And yet, what looked like it would be a socially awkward collision ended up being a providential encounter. The man spoke English, and, more importantly, he had lots of spiritual questions. We were able to share the gospel very clearly with him. 45 minutes later we bowed our heads together with this man named Daniel, and prayed for God to help him to understand more about Him.
6. They loved Portugal and were eager to learn more about it. While most of our week was filled with work and activities, we also made time to visit castles, explore Lisbon, and have some important cultural experiences.
So there you have it… These are some things that make for a great missions trip.
Thank you TCBC Team Portugal 2013 for your sacrifice and investment in the work of Jesus Christ. You have blessed us and encouraged more than words can say.