This time of year is full of “Top Ten” and “Best of…” lists. So in that spirit, here are the “Eight Best Moments” since our last update.
1. Last month, we baptized six people. All told, we added 21 new members to the church this past year. The church is maturing and taking important steps. Pray for wisdom to know how to continue moving forward.
2. Also last month, we had our first church service led by the youth. It was exciting to see their eagerness to serve, sing, read Scripture, and share their testimonies. Pray for the youth in our church. While we see many encouraging signs of spiritual life, we also see their fragility and how strong the world’s influence is in their lives.
3. The women’s Bible study that Sarah is leading is greatly strengthening and encouraging all who participate. Many of the women are hurting and facing personal challenges, yet it is heartening to see them praying with each other and challenging each other to grow in obedience to God’s Word.
4. Remember Luis, the 12 year old boy in our church, who passed in away in September? Since then, his older step brother, younger brother, aunt, and cousin have all believed on Jesus to be their Savior. How good God is to use such sorrow to bring forth glory and spiritual life.
5. Yesterday, we had our deaf Christmas service and party. Despite the fact that we were a small group, God was glorified, and Jesus’ name was praised in Portuguese Sign Language. In our work with the deaf, this year had highs and lows. The mission team from Harvest Baptist Church of the Deaf was certainly one of the high points. They encouraged us and were very effective making new contacts and evangelizing. Also, throughout the year, we saw a good number of deaf make professions of faith. The low points are that we have had fewer deaf come to our church services, and some of those who have made professions of faith have shown very little desire to grow. Good things happened this year, but pray fervently for a greater spiritual awakening among the deaf. Pray also that God would show us how to best use our time and resources in ministering to the deaf. Every week, there are far more needs and opportunities than we are capable of addressing.
6. In our last letter, we asked you to pray for Sarah’s wrist to heal from a surgery she had in August. Praise God that after many weeks of therapy, she has regained most of the movement in her wrist. Sign language (and most of life in general) is much easier when your wrist works well. Thank you for praying!
7. The Wears family, our missionary friends and colleagues, finished deputation and arrived in Portugal. Praise God for more missionaries serving the Lord here!
8. Once again, we are at the end of a year and God has met every one of our needs and has blessed us with such tremendous ministry partners. We thank God for you, and we are greatly humbled and overjoyed at getting to serve King Jesus another year here in Portugal. That leads us to this important news: We are returning to America for furlough for six months in 2019, from March until September. It will be exciting to see many of you again, and if you would like us to come and share an update at your church, please contact us right away! May God bless, strengthen, guard, and prosper you in the year to come! This Christmas season, may all praise be to Christ!