Where does the time go? One year has already passed since we came back from the U.S.. Coming back meant a new focus and a new ministry. What has changed in the last 12 months?
I have always felt deeply the immense need that Portugal has for faithful Gospel preaching churches. It is hard to face that less than 1% of the population is born again Christian. For a number of years, as I pastored the church in Albufeira, Southern Portugal, I thought the Lord would have me stay in that church, discipling and training the people that would be the church planters that the country so desperately needed. The Lord had other plans. As I trained Bro. Lenildo, it became obvious that he was to be the pastor of that church and that we were to go out and become church planting missionaries ourselves!
We were able to go back to the U.S., where we joined a great church that was willing to be not only our sending church, but also our missionary agency, handling all the day-to-day details of accounting for and processing the missions funds for the work in Portugal. We then started a ten month trip, visiting dozens and dozens of churches, establishing partnerships with the goal of reaching Portugal with the Gospel of Christ.
The Lord blessed in the amount of time we had (it was limited due to visa restraints) and on July 4th, 2014 we were back in Portugal.
Many of you have followed all of our news updates (we are thankful for you) while some of you are new to Reach Portugal. Long time partners and first time readers, here is a little summary of what has been going on since we arrived in Portugal a year ago.
- Filling in: When we first arrived, we heard that Bro. Lenildo’s brother in Brazil was in a serious accident and was his life was in danger. Immediately upon our arrival, we were asked to fill in for him while he went to Brazil. This allowed us to minister for a while to the people we loved and to take care of transition matters. God blessed and Bro. Lenildo’s brother recovered fully from his injuries.
- A new pastor: Just a month after we arrived we were able to be present for Bro. Tito’s ordination service in the church in Albufeira. Even though this was a process we had the opportunity to start through the Bible Institute there, it was a joy to see Bro. Lenildo, as the new pastor of that church, lead the church in the ordination process. Bro. Tito, sent by the church in Albufeira, was starting a church in the North of Lisbon, about 3 hours away.
- A new city: When we came back to Portugal, we came back to a new city, in a different part of the country. Aura’s parents, missionaries Allen and Barbara Newton, have lived in the city of Castelo Branco for a few years and have started a church plant in this city. Since they were getting ready to go back on a furlough, we came to Castelo Branco with the intention of filling in while they were gone. While in Castelo Branco, we started making a few very promising contacts, we adjusted well to the city and the ministry and the Lord has showed us that this is where we are supposed to stay, at least until the church here is established and has its own pastor.
- New ministry opportunities: In the last 12 months, apart from Albufeira and Castelo Branco, the Lord has given us the opportunity to preach the Gospel in several other parts of the country. We were able to be involved with a church in downtown Lisbon. This seemed to be a good church replant opportunity. The door there seems to be closing, but several of our unsaved friends from the Lisbon area came to services while we were there. We also had the chance of conducting several weeks of Bible studies in the city of Covilhã, an hour north of Castelo Branco. This is a city where we are praying about starting a new church plant soon. We were also invited to preach and teach in several of the other churches in the country. We have continued a close fellowship and cooperation with other pastors and missionaries and we hope and pray the Lord can use that in the near future for the new church plants that will be started.
- A new home: We were able to find an apartment in Castelo Branco. It is a nice apartment and big enough to have a guest room and a study. We had a few things in Southern Portugal that we brought up, we bought other things and we were given some furniture. Aura is doing a great job decorating and finding a place for everything.
- New people: We are beginning to see new people come to the services in Castelo Branco. We have a number of people that come that do not have a clear testimony of salvation, so we are praying to see them saved soon. We have also started some one-on-one Bible studies and should have some baptisms soon.
- A new church: It was a blessing to see the church plant that was started in Castanheira (north of Lisbon) organized into a church. Bro. Tito was voted in as the new pastor. Last year we were present when they had their first baptism service. I had the privilege of preaching that service and a lady got saved!
This is just a summary. Many other things have happened. All of this proves, yet again, that the Lord is working in Portugal. There are other towns to be reached and there is room for more missionaries to come. We are thankful for the churches and individuals that support our ministry in Portugal. You are a big part of all that is going on here.
How about you? Have you considered that the Lord might be calling you to be more involved in missions or even be a missionary? Contact us if you have any questions on Portugal or missions?