“I’ll get the pastries; you grab a table,” Sarah tells the girls each Wednesday afternoon. She picks up Joana and Paula right after school, drives them to the closest café, and goes over discipleship lessons with them. You’ve followed Joana’s and Paula’s stories with us over the years. Now 11 and 13 years old, they both want to be baptized. The lessons are helping them better understand salvation and following God as they take that important step. It’s exciting to see them learn not only what the Bible says but also how to use it. They’ve always looked up verses by going to the index and finding the page number for the book of the Bible they need. Three weeks ago, they started memorizing the books of the New Testament. Last week, as they looked up verses, they didn’t use the index at all. “It’s so much faster and easier this way!” they said. Please pray for Joana and Paula to grow firm in their faith and to be good testimonies to their unsaved families and classmates.
While this is an encouraging story, much of our ministry so far this year feels like it is moving backwards. Several people have fallen away from the Lord, attendance at church is down, and there have been some discouraging days. We were lamenting all of this recently at dinner with a Portuguese pastor and his wife. They have been in the ministry for almost 25 years, and they wisely encouraged us, “Sometimes the blessings are there, but you have to look a little harder.” It got us thinking, and it’s true. Despite the setbacks, there are blessings to celebrate.
- Each month at deaf church, we continue to have new visitors. The latest is a man named Luis. Since our children attend classes at a deaf school, we’ve told the teachers about the church. Helga and Fátima, two deaf aides at the school, have asked about coming to the next service. Please pray that God will bring them and help them understand about Him.
- One of the leaders in our hearing church, Genilson, is taking classes at a Bible Institute and is growing in his ability to teach the Bible. In May, he will preach his first message to the church.
- We are doing the important work of electing officers and preparing everything necessary to become an autonomous church this year. Recently, several of us gathered together until almost midnight, laboring line by line to write the church constitution. It felt almost as momentous as the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.
- The Religion and Morality class at the high school in our town is going well. Many of the students have started bringing their friends to the class, which is very encouraging. Pray especially for two girls, Viktoria and Ludmilla, who are not saved, but have lots of good questions about the Bible.
So, while we pray for those who have fallen away (Mário, Horácio, Ana, Vánia, and others), we commit the challenges to Lord, and we praise him for the progress we see. Let’s all open our eyes to see the blessings that surround us!