A new year brings new changes for our church! When our church plant started almost four years ago, we were tiny and needed assistance from other local churches. Some helped with music, others came simply to make the church feel fuller and more inviting. Most of these helpers served in their own churches in the morning or evening, so we purposely scheduled our service in the afternoon to give them time to travel between their service and ours. Thankfully, over the years, our church plant has grown and taken on the responsibilities others once covered. Thus, we voted to move our service to a more traditional morning hour. This month, morning services began, and they have been very sweet. Attendance continues to be strong, and most people love the change. Most importantly, we moved the hour, so we could officially begin Sunday School. Our teachers’ meeting is Saturday night, and we hope to start classes in February. Please pray that God will give the teachers eagerness and a desire to “rightly divide” the Word of Truth to the children or adults in their classes.
The new year is full of new people. God has brought around 20 new people to our church in the past 6 months. All of them are in different stages of their walk with Christ. Some are mature believers who want to serve. Others are new believers or still unsaved. Regardless, they each require time, and each day still has 24 hours. Please pray that we will know how to guide, strengthen, and incorporate each of them into the church in Montijo. Please pray for discernment for us in how to use our time, in whom to invest, and how to properly delegate responsibilities so the church functions well as a body.
The new year brings new opportunities with the deaf. From a human perspective, the deaf work seems to be going backwards. Attendance at services has dropped. They have not stepped out in faith to receive Jesus, and often forget what we have taught them. We look at our colleagues and ask each other, “What more can we possibly do?” However, from God’s perspective, He knows just what He is doing, He loves the deaf more than we do, and He alone can save them. So, “What more can we do?” We can pray more. We often teach concepts that have no signs in their language, and they are both learning the idea creating the sign at the same time. Pray for the deaf to understand and for us to have wisdom. The deaf spend much time at deaf associations, parties, or work, and few have transportation. Pray that they will not use these as excuses, but that they will prioritize learning the Bible. Portuguese deaf have a herd mentality in that they do not want to step out, be different, or even learn something if the whole group does not participate. Please pray they will have the courage to learn the Bible, accept Christ, and follow Him, at the risk of being excluded from their group. We have tried church services, Bible studies in homes, deaf outings, and filming Bible stories and songs in Portuguese Sign Language. Pray that we will not depend on our own ideas and efforts, but rather be vessels for Him to use His way in His hands. Finally, we have a deaf team coming from America this summer. This will be the first time most Portuguese will meet a pastor who is deaf. Please pray for God to use the deaf pastor and deaf team as He wants to reach the deaf in Portugal. We are looking forward to seeing what God does in Portugal in 2017. All for His glory!