As many of you know, I grew up in a Portuguese island called S. Jorge. With another 8 islands it forms an archipelago known as the Azores. The Azores are about 1000 miles away from continental Europe. There are no passenger boat trips there. You can only get there after a two hour flight.
The island of S. Jorge is one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit. Its about 40 miles long and has a maximum width of only 5 miles. This island I love is a small place, but it is filled with generous and kind people. A good number of them are related to me. If my research is right (I borrowed most of it from the work done by a cousin of mine that lives in California), the first one of my ancestors to move to the island did so in the mid 15th century. As a kid, I remember going down the road with my dad and it seemed that everyone we met was related to us somehow (“he is your cousin, she is your grandmother’s cousin, etc.”).
Aura is also connected to the islands. On the island called Terceira, where my mother was from, there is an US Air force base. My father-in-law was stationed there when my wife was born. Because of this Aura can say something that I can’t. She was actually born on those islands. I was born in Canada, where my parents had immigrated, and we only returned to the Azores when I was 4 years-old.
Many years later, my father-in-law felt called by God to go to S. Jorge, live there as a missionary and preach the Gospel of Christ. I met him when I was 12 and it was through him that I learned the good news of salvation through Christ alone. Before that I believed that I had to work hard to get to Heaven and that the way of salvation was maybe a mixture of good works and belonging to the right church. I am saved today because a missionary heard the call and came to that island. God used a missionary and the army of people supporting him so that I could hear about grace.
The island I love still does not have a church that shares the simple message of salvation through Christ alone and not through religion or dead works.
It used to be very expensive to travel to the Azores. The two companies that were allowed to fly there were government owned and there was no competition driving down the prices. I remember paying almost 400 euros (460$) for a ticket to go there. As of last year that has changed. Other companies are now allowed to fly there and that means all tickets are cheaper.
I believe we have the best message in the world. I believe Jesus gives people hope and establishing a faithful church of born-again believers is the best thing you can do for a community. The island I love has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Those people do not need more religion, they need Jesus.
When I saw the ticket prices going down I took it as a door of opportunity opening for the gospel. Last February at winter camp I shared all of this with the young people there. Immediately (a lot faster than I thought they would), they realized what was going on. “Maybe we could go there, meet the people, talk to people, have a service…”. The ideas just poured in.
William Carey, the first missionary of the modern era of missions said, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” We are going to try to do just that. As we shared in our latest Prayer Letter, we are taking a group of 10 people (mostly young people) to the island of S. Jorge for a week of evangelism in July. We will meet people, talk to people, pass out literature and, at the end of the week, conduct a special evangelism service. Would you pray for this project?
We figured that 300$ would pay for one person to go (plane ticket, transportation, food and lodging). Since we shared the Prayer Letter, three different people have contacted us about donating a ticket each. We are so thankful! God is already doing great things!
If you would like more information about this missions project, or would like to donate one of the tickets, please contact us. The goal is to have several of these trips until we can see a church established on that island. Have I mentioned I love that island?