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.
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.
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.