“You don’t know me, but can I please meet with you?” a man named Nuno asked. On the phone that morning, he explained that Genilson, a man in our church, was his co-worker at a bakery. Genilson had been talking with him about the gospel and told him to call me. As we sat at church a few hours later, “Why has God allowed all of these bad things to happen to me?” Nuno asked earnestly. I gently replied, “It may be so that you could meet me and hear what I am about to tell you.” Over the next hour, I explained the gospel to him and listened to his questions. Finally, he bowed his head and called on Jesus to save him from his sin. What joy!
There has been much celebration lately. In August, we had our second baptismal service. How encouraging it was to see Horácio and Florbela give public testimony of their faith in Christ. Many of you remember reading about Horacio’s conversion story a few months ago. He continues to grow in his faith and in his understanding of the Bible. Before his baptism, he told me, “Last week, at our family lunch, I told them that I was getting baptized. They weren’t very happy, but I have made my decision.” At his baptism, none of his earthly family was present, but he did have his spiritual family. Dr. Quica, the first person to share the gospel with him, was able to come. Pastor Santana, the pastor who led a small Bible study in our town for several years, was able to come as well. Horacio was very touched to see these people who are so special to him.
Florbela, too, didn’t have any family present for her baptism. Genilson and Meire, one of the core couples in our church, met her about 8 years ago. Their daughter, Deborah, became close friends with Florbela’s daughter, Catarina. Eventually, because of Genilson’s witness, Catarina was saved and began going to church. Florbela became curious and decided to start attending church, too. Finally, last November, she understood her need to be saved, and we all rejoiced with her in her recent baptism.
The recent salvations, baptisms, and growth were a big encouragement as we prepared for our first furlough. While the church in Montijo and the work with the Deaf is still very young and fragile, it is God’s work. He is more than able to protect and sustain all that He is doing. We have been preparing the church for our absence, and training the people to fill in some of the ministries that our family has been doing. For example:
- Horácio (who was just baptized) committed to visiting an elderly man who is a shut-in and doing a Bible study with him.
- Florbela took over the church library ministry.
- Fernando and Genilson will be leading the Wednesday night Bible study and prayer.
- Two families agreed to give rides to the 6-8 kids we pick up for church each Sunday.
- Mário is already doing a great job making the bulletins and updating the church website.
All of these were things we did before we left. Now, these ministries are in the hands of the people in the church, and that’s just as it should be.
On September 11th, we arrived back in America to begin our six month furlough. We are excited to see family and visit our churches, and we are thinking of and praying for our Portuguese brothers and sisters in Christ. We are looking forward to seeing many of you soon! Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past four years!
In Christ, David and Sarah