Arlete is a sweet church member who works in a nursing home. One Sunday she commented about the great spiritual needs of the residents with whom she works: “I pray and talk with them about God, but it is always in general terms. I’m not sure how to go about explaining the gospel and leading them to be saved.” I found a booklet that explained the gospel, gave it to her, and said, “Read through this several times until you feel like you know the verses and can explain the main points in a clear and natural way.” The next Sunday, she came up to me with a smile, “I read through that booklet at least 6 or 7 times, and this week I was able to explain the gospel to one of the residents. It felt so good.” Seeing her joy and confidence was such a blessing. It was also sobering to see the urgency of proclaiming the gospel, because just last week, we learned that seven of the residents have COVID, and, sadly, one of them passed away. The need is great, and it is encouraging to know that Arlete is a shining witness in that nursing home.
Serginho is a hardworking bricklayer who recently moved here with his family from Brazil. Despite great financial hardships, he is always filled with joy. The other day he told me how depraved and hostile his work environment is. One particular coworker delighted in verbally abusing and cursing him. However, Serginho responded as Christians are called to do; he did not repay evil for evil. He would just smile and defuse each situation with a disarming sense of humor. The coworker had never seen anything like this before. As the weeks passed, his heart began to melt, and he began to call Serginho his brother. Not only has this man heard the gospel from Serginho, but he has also seen it in action.
Both of these examples are convicting and motivating to us. While we’re here as missionaries, it’s easy to get caught up in the activities of the week and forget about the individuals around us who desperately need to hear the gospel. Yet, when we open our front door and look up and down the street, we don’t know of anyone else in sight who is saved. We are trying to use each encounter (with the cashier at the grocery store, with the next person in line at the post office, with the neighbor over the fence, or with a teacher at school) as a conversation that can point that person to hope in Christ.
This past weekend was encouraging and full. We met in person with the deaf for the first time since March. While we only had four come to the service, there were still reasons to rejoice. Vitor and Ines (who are saved and faithfully attend) brought their friends, João and Telma (who are not saved, but have attended our meetings off and on). Toward the end, as we were discussing the Bible message, Vitor looked at João and Telma, and in his very direct deaf way remarked, “You all aren’t saved yet. João, I see you are sort of interested, but Telma, you don’t seem very open.” He certainly laid his cards on the table, and we ask you to pray that one day both João and Telma would look to Jesus and be saved. Pray also that Vitor would experience the joy of seeing his friends come to know Christ.
Baptismal services are always a highlight for us, and this past Sunday was no exception. We gathered on the banks of the Tagus River and sang “Jesus Paid It All” and “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” As the church sang, I waded into the water with David, a teenager, and Carol, a young woman. When we turned around, it was powerful to see everyone looking on with excitement, and it was encouraging to hear David and Carol tell the world that they had decided to follow Jesus.
As pilgrims in this world, we are thankful to walk through this life with you. Your prayer and your caring for Portugal mean so much to us. May each of us be faithful in following Jesus and telling others about Him.