In our last update, we mentioned how many needs people in our church and community have. God has supplied for those needs in an amazing way through a grocery store in our town. Every Thursday and Saturday at closing time, volunteers from our church go to the loading dock behind the store and receive everything that is expiring or that can’t be sold anymore. Then comes the fun part – delivering the goods. Usually there is enough food to give to at least four or five families. While the food is greatly appreciated and needed, it has also given us an opportunity to minister to families that are not connected with our church. Also, it is a joy to see the excitement of the volunteers as they are able to be a blessing to so many.
We also spoke of how we felt overwhelmed trying to minister to everybody and balance our lives. Again, God is providing for our needs, as He sent us two American college students who are doing an internship at a Christian camp here in Portugal. Every weekend, they come and help out however they are able to, despite not knowing Portuguese very well yet. One of the biggest ways they help is by watching Lucas during the service so that Sarah can interpret for the deaf. Also, they are spending lots of time with the youth in the church and are being a blessing to many people.
Another big praise is that, after many months apart, we met together for an in-person, deaf church service. Thankfully, nine deaf showed up, and it was a very sweet reunion, as well as a bittersweet goodbye. Our colleagues in the deaf ministry, Cal and Joyce Voelker, have retired after 20 years of faithful service to the Lord here. The work with the Deaf has been their “side hustle”, so to speak, as their main ministry was leading an international Christian school. Well before we came to Portugal, Joyce had a burden for the Deaf, and began praying for God to send missionaries to start a work with the Deaf. God sent us, and it was a great joy to serve Jesus with them. Who knows how God will work when you begin to pray for Him to move among the lost.
It is always exciting to disciple people who have just recently discovered the gospel. We are discipling and preparing two people for baptism. Amazingly, they are both Portuguese and adults. This, sadly, is a rare thing. The first person, Susana, is one we’ve mentioned before. She is growing in her faith and understanding of the gospel. When we last met with her, she stated that when she began to hear the gospel, she would recoil every time she heard about sin and judgment. But now, she understands the gospel and how God’s grace saves us. It is very encouraging to see how God has worked in her heart. The second person, Paulo, is a man who began to hear the gospel on YouTube a few years ago when he was in a life crisis. Eventually, he was saved and began coming to our church. He also faithfully brings his two sons, Miguel and David. Even though they are young, they listen very closely to the messages and are growing in their understanding of the gospel as well. Pray that both Susana and Paulo would be baptized soon.
We end with a praise and a prayer request. This past Saturday, I started feeling a little feverish. Wanting to err on the side of caution, Sarah gave me a Covid test which came back positive. Thankfully, I found out before I could have spread it to the many people who would have been at church the next day. God was very merciful to let me find out in time. So far, my symptoms are mild, but pray that God will give us the strength and grace we will need for the next two weeks of quarantine. Please pray as well that there would be no other cases linked to the church. God is good! Let’s keep serving Him!