“Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save” is what the hymn declares. Our church building is on the ground floor of an apartment building that has six apartments. Within the past year, three of our neighbors in the building have passed away. It is sobering to know that all three of them very likely perished. The spiritual needs surrounding us are enormous, and it drives me to say, “God, we are just one family, but you are sovereign. Please show us our part today in Your plan.” God is leading us in large and small ways.
For example, Sarah went for a run. It was extremely windy, so she ran a different route in the opposite direction she usually runs. God brought her past a farmhouse at the exact moment the caretaker came out of the gate to get in his car. Sarah had met him months ago when she and the kids were searching for a field where they could fly their kites. He had generously offered a bag of oranges from his orange tree, let the kids use the field, and then shared about his wife who was incapacitated after a stroke. Ever since then, Sarah would wave at him from afar when he was working the fields or groves and she would pray for him. On this day, she stopped and asked about his wife and if she could pray right there with him. This is not something most Catholic-raised Portuguese people do, but he accepted. After the prayer, he had tears running down his face. Sarah asked, “Do you know Jesus?” He and his wife believe in God, but are not yet sure of their salvation. Please pray for them to have certainty of the hope He offers. This month alone, God has used Sarah’s day-to-day tasks to lead her to six individuals whom she could tell about Jesus and His love: this farmer, a store clerk, a parent at our kids’ school, two of our kids’ friends, and a man raising money for a charity.
God is also using organized, large-scale outreach. This past week, we had our neighborhood Christmas party. People in the church donated clothes, toys, and household items. It was like a giant garage sale where everything is free. Dozens of people in the church rallied together to organize and prepare for the festivities. On the day of the party, we had at least 100 people come, 50 of whom had never been to our church before. We served many gallons of hot chocolate, gave out cookies, and delivered gifts to the neighboring houses, businesses and police station. We’re thankful for the church’s testimony of generosity and service.
In order to reach the deaf, our co-worker, Amanda, has been making videos of the Bible in Portuguese Sign Language. Slowly but surely, she is making progress in translating portions of the Bible. Recently, a Bible translation organization reached out to us offering significant help in this process. We met with the Portuguese Bible Society to see about the possibility of partnering in this translation work. Please pray for us to follow God’s timing and plan as He brings His people in place for this task. Through both large- and small-scale encounters, God is leading us to tell people about Him.
As we come to the end of another year, our hearts are filled with gratitude for you. For most of us, 2021 was a challenging year where few things went as we expected. Even so, God is good and faithful. One special way that He shows His goodness is by placing brothers and sisters in Christ like you in our lives. To each of you, thank you for how you have prayed for us, cared for our family, partnered with us financially, and showed your love and friendship. We hope that we can be even better friends and partners to you in the year to come.