Merry Christmas! We hope you have a wonderful season celebrating the birth of Jesus. We are grateful for the evidence of Jesus working in the lives of people in Portugal today.
Teaching the discipleship class for those who will be baptized soon is one of the highlights of my week. The six teenagers in the class all show a great hunger for God’s Word and a desire to grow in their faith. Pray that they would all be bold in their testimony and faithful in their walk with the Lord.
The hearing church continues to grow. Many Sundays, we have more than 100 people in attendance. Each step we take, we are treading new territory. We’ve never done this before, and we are trying to learn how to grow leaders and delegate as quickly as possible. For example, in the past, when we have had ladies’ teas or Bible studies, Sarah has done most of the preparation, and many women cancelled at the last minute. We now have a large enough group that Sarah can divide the tasks among various women, and they recruit helpers in their areas. For the meeting in November, each woman brought food; Carla and her team decorated; Rute led the music; Michelle and her assistants produced the craft; and Isabel prepared a fantastic message on Biblical gratitude. Twenty-two women attended, and each said how much she needed the reminder to thank God in all circumstances. Sarah was touched by the message and by seeing the women serving God and encouraging one another.
For the deaf church services, we never know how many people will come. There can be one person, there can be fifteen people, or any number in between. After low attendance this Fall, we were happy to see more deaf people at our Christmas service. Some were old friends we hadn’t seen since furlough, and some were first-time visitors. We’re grateful for each one, and we continue to pray for those who have not come to church in a long time (Sergio, Carlos, Rui, Zeza, and others). The longer we have worked with the deaf here, the more we have seen the need for prayer. We believe that someday there will be an awakening among the deaf in Portugal, and when that happens, we will know that it was all of God. For those of you who have faithfully interceded over the years, thank you. Please keep praying for that breakthrough.
In our town, God continues to send family after family, many of whom arrive from Brazil with nothing more than a suitcase of possessions. They come to church within days of arriving, with hearts ready to worship and hands ready to serve. The church members have been wonderful about anticipating needs and giving generously to help. This Saturday is our annual “bazaar”, a Christmas party in which church members bring clothes, toys and household items they no longer need, so that anyone from the church or community can take them for free. We also provide Christmas snacks, games, and the Gospel. Sunday is our church’s Christmas program as well. Please pray that God uses these events to bring the Good News of His Son to the Portuguese people who still need to know Him. We are grateful for our Savior’s birth, and we are grateful for each of you who prays for us. Have a joyous, hope-filled Christmas!