April Prayer Letter

Confusion and worry filled my heart as I emptied out the offering container. A few coins fell out, but all of the cash and envelopes with tithes and offerings were gone. What happened? Who would have been so bold as to steal the offering? Over the next few days, I began to unravel the mystery, and, sadly, I discovered that several of the youth that come to church had schemed for weeks to do this. One by one, I confronted them. Thankfully, some of those involved confessed, repented and are taking steps to restore what they took. Others have remained hardhearted and deceptive. Ultimately, the money stolen is not nearly as important as the souls of these youth. Pray that God would continue to work in all those who were involved.

Marina lives just around the corner from the church. Four months ago, her friend, Florbela, invited her, and she has come faithfully ever since. Sarah began a Bible study with her, and she quickly admitted that she was not saved. She was reluctant to receive Jesus as her Savior because she knew her life would have to change dramatically, and she wasn’t prepared to do that. Praise God that two weeks ago, Marina came up to Sarah and shared that she had finally made the most important decision of her life – to believe on Jesus and call on Him to save her. On Sunday, she publicly professed her faith in Christ before the whole congregation. With great humility and courage she stated, “I’m not a good person. I have lots of problems and addictions, but Jesus has saved me. I go forward, knowing that I belong to Him now.” Her enthusiasm and “tell-it-like-it-is” candor is a blessing. She is eagerly participating in every service. Pray that God would strengthen the faith of this new sister in Christ.

Sarah and Marina
Sarah and Marina

Every month at Deaf Church we continue to see new people come. Remember last month we asked you to pray for God to bring some of the Deaf teachers and aides from Samuel and Laura’s school? God answered, and we saw Diogo (a Deaf teacher) and Fátima (a Deaf aide) come for the first time. Our attendance is increasing, and hundreds of Deaf are exposed to the Gospel through our Deaf church Facebook page. Some are also beginning to attend our hearing services where Sarah interprets. This is encouraging progress, but pray for this exposure to result in an awakening. After once again explaining the gospel in our last service, I asked if anyone wanted to publicly state their belief in Jesus. No one moved. No one stepped forward to say, “Yes, I believe. Jesus is my Savior.” We long and pray for the day when that will happen.

Deaf Church
Deaf Church

Though there are challenges, we can honestly say that we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We know God has called us here, and there is great joy in serving Him. Thank you for praying for us and for Portugal.

Thankful for three years as a church
Thankful for three years as a church

Family Circus

This is an article that Sarah wrote for a missions magazine.

I remember the Family Circus cartoon: the mom stands in the kitchen with a baby crying on her hip, a toddler pulling on her leg, and an older child asking her to sign a school paper. In the background, a pot boils over, the phone rings, and laundry spills out onto her dirty floor. Even the dog holds his dish, begging to be fed. The caption reads: “For this I went to college?”

I can relate, can’t you? In college, I prepared for the missionary work to which God had called me. After classes in Bible, missions, interpreting, and education, I was ready to serve God alongside David. We dove into language study and eagerly started a church plant. God fulfilled another of our dreams with back to back kids. We were thrilled! Then, reality started to hit.  As Bible studies in our living room ran until midnight, I was in a bedroom with a screaming, tired baby. I took “maternity leave” from teaching Religion and Morality classes in the public school. Rather than counseling at Bible camp, I stayed home to nurse our baby and potty train our toddler, so David could be 100% involved with preaching and counseling.

I knew what a “high and holy calling” it was to be a mother, but, let’s be honest: is it more thrilling to lead two girls to the Lord after a stirring message, or to clean urine and spit up in another room while you miss the whole service? And, at least for me, I was more confident and capable in ministry duties than in motherly ones. Need a Bible lesson? No problem. Infant fevers or feeding tips? I don’t know what I’m doing! I have a master’s degree, but this mothering job is pretty hard. Why didn’t I major in it?!

One by one, I was unplugging (temporarily) from ministry duties, so I could take care of my kids. But, as I let go of each one, I felt I was losing myself. My identity had been wrapped up in what I was doing for Christ. I somehow viewed “just being a mother” as the bottom of the totem pole, and, suddenly, there I was struggling with the “lowliest” job and disconnected from the work I still felt called to do. I was discouraged, confused, and spiraling into some dark days.

Thankfully, God used His Word, other books, people, and counsel to help me through. First, He showed me that who I am is not defined by what I do for Him. By no merit of my own, He created me, sent His Son to die for me, chose me, and saved me. My position as His beloved daughter is all because of Him. Basing my worth on how much I did for Him today is both erroneous and prideful.

Secondly, He is changing my perspective on motherhood. I used to see grocery shopping and cooking as a tedious hour-long project that gets demolished in 15 minutes. Now, I stand in the produce section and think of the health and life this food will give my kids, so they can grow and become the people God wants them to be. Recently, I was braiding Laura’s hair. As we fetched a hairclip from her room, she suddenly started asking about heaven. I had to step out to the kitchen, sit on the floor, and cry for joy. Motherhood is difficult and dirty and draining, but it is the greatest mission work ever!

As Laura and Samuel are growing, I am picking up ministry responsibilities again. How I pray for God to help me reach the precious souls He has placed around me, and, most importantly, those He has placed right under my roof.