“In case of a worldwide pandemic, church business meetings may be conducted on Zoom, as long as there is a quorum.” That is a phrase we did not think to include in our church constitution and bylaws 5 years ago. However, through much prayer and technology, we recently had our best-attended church business meeting ever. Praise the Lord!
Thus began the year. As we turned the calendar to 2021, Portugal rose to #1 worldwide for cases of Coronavirus per capita. Once again, borders, schools, and businesses closed, and church returned to online only. We were reminded of our great dependence on God, and we began with a week of prayer. Each night, more and more people joined us online to pray for revival, for healing, for wisdom, and for souls to be saved.
2021 continues to be the year of flexibility. As we have not been able to resume Sunday School, the children’s Sunday School teachers have started working together to create videos to teach the kids, and we had our first children’s online Sunday School this past week. We talked about fear through the stories of David and Goliath and the disciples in the storm. It was a blessing to hear 4-year-old Ana Carolina’s tiny voice say, “Because God is such a ‘big guy’, I don’t have to be afraid.”
Where there are needs, there are opportunities to serve and spread light. Just down the street from our church, is “Aunt Teresa´s Restaurant.” She and her family are kind people and have been friends to the church since we opened. She serves traditional Portuguese food with a smile, at a great price, and with generous portions. My favorite dish is a “bitoque” which is fries, rice, steak cooked with lots of olive oil and garlic, and an egg put on top of it for good measure. Aunt Teresa noticed that lots of people in our neighborhood needed food, so she began serving hearty soup for free to whomever had a need. We as a church gave her a generous gift to help in her efforts. She and her family were deeply moved, and while we didn’t do it for the publicity, she made it known far and wide through Facebook and an interview with the local newspaper, that we had been a big help to her. Pray that our testimony and impact in our community will continue to flourish.
We have good news about the work with the deaf! Our coworker, Amanda, has begun an online class for Christian interpreters who want to learn “religious signs” for church services. She has 11 people in the class! Not all of them are proficient interpreters, but they are interested in making their church services accessible for the deaf, and reaching their deaf friends for Christ. We pray this class will help reach the deaf in other towns in Portugal!
We praise God for good physical health, and ask for you to pray for us to remain healthy spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Since mid-January, we have been confined to our homes, except for “essential work”. These days, a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy is a big outing. David is still able to volunteer at the food bank and deliver essential goods to our church members. We take our kids outside for a walk each day. Sarah went for a walk with a church member to visit with her today. We do much shepherding by phone and video calls. But emotional and spiritual depression are a shadow away, leaving both congregations and leadership vulnerable. Please pray for God to be our strength and for us to set our hearts on Him more than on a return to “normal life”.