You have never seen great numbers of conversions come from Portugal. Actually, it is very likely that most of American Christians have never even heard of Portugal. In the last six months, we have had the chance to visit 40 churches. A good number of them had never heard a missionary report from Portugal. There are other places, however, where the Lord is doing some exciting things. Reports come in about hundreds of saved souls, men being trained and churches being started. I am sincerely thankful to hear those reports. Our Lord is still in the business of saving souls, His grace is sufficient for any nation and His glory is manifest and obvious for all the world to see. So, I guess my question is, is it a good use of the Lord’s money to fund church planting missionaries in a place like Portugal? I believe it is important to support missions to all the unreached peoples of the world. In this post, I would like to give you some reasons why I believe we should be increasing the support of worthy missionary projects in the country of Portugal.
(1) The need is great
Portugal is not a big country. It is about the size of the state of Indiana. Nevertheless, Portugal has almost 11 million people. If I am reading the census numbers correctly, there are less than 1% born-again believers in Portugal. There are more JW’s in Portugal than born-again believers. The need is great and we get to do something about it.
(2) People are getting saved
I have been involved in ministry in Portugal since 2001 (I was ordained to the ministry of the gospel in 2002). We have seen people saved every year since we have been in the ministry and we have baptized every year since 2003. Again, the numbers are not numerically large, but these are great numbers. These are great numbers from heaven’s standpoint.
(3) Churches are being started
In 2004, I became the pastor of the church my in-laws (Allen and Barb Newton, also missionaries in Portugal) started in Albufeira, Southern Portugal. When this happened, my in-laws went 6 hours North to start a new church in the city of Castelo Branco. When I became the pastor of the church in Albufeira, we had a small group of believers and I was working a full-time job in a factory. People continued to get saved, baptized and discipled. In 2006 that church started to pay me a salary and we were able to be wholly dedicated to the ministry the Lord had called us to do. Some years after that a group of believers that was meeting in Northern Portugal contacted our church. They wanted to be organized into a church and wanted a faithful Bible believing church to help them along. The process took several months, but in the summer of 2011, we organized the church in the city of Moreira da Maia and the next day led that church to ordain their pastor, a very faithful Portuguese man whose name is Rui Simão. After that, the church in Albufeira started to help missionaries Mark and Michele Hale in their church planting efforts in the city of Lagos, 1 hour from Albufeira. In June 2013, the church in Albufeira started a church plant in the city of Castanheira, near Lisbon. This new church plant in doing very well and we are praying about organizing that church in May/June of 2015. Aura and I plan to start a new church plant in 2015. These are just the church plants that are directly under our ministry, but we know of some more that are being led by other faithful missionaries.
(4) Men are being trained
We praise the Lord for the opportunity we’ve had to be directly involved with the training of men for the work of the gospel. Missionary Allen Newton put together the Bible Institute material that he used to train me. We have developed and continue to use this same material to train others. In 2013, Bro. Lenildo Monteiro completed his basic training and was ordained by the church in Albufeira. Bro. Tito, who is at the new church plant in Castanheira, is about to complete his Bible Institute training and, Lord willing, will be ordained in October. Through the camp ministry, we are now seeing some young men beginning to have an interest in the work of the ministry. This summer some of them will receive training as counsellors. At least one of these young men is already doing some Bible Institute classes.
(5) New missionaries are on their way
It has been exciting to meet, since we have been in the US, two young couples that are getting ready to raise their support to come to Portugal as missionaries. There are still not a lot of missionaries in Portugal. I believe we need more. But it is a joy to see that the Lord is still calling people to this needed field. The Lord is not done with Portugal.
I know of several veteran missionaries to Portugal that in the next few months will be coming back to the US on furlough. These men, and their families, along with reporting to their supporting churches, will have to raise extra funds for their work. If the Lord is not done with Portugal (actually things there are only starting), why should churches and believers dismiss this needy field? Will consider praying about what part the Lord would have for you to do to reach Portugal in our generation?