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During the month of February pastor Todd Stricklin, of our sending church in RI took a 10-day trip to Portugal where he was deeply involved in the ministry that is going on there. I asked him to write a report of what he saw on the field.
In the spring of 2010 I had the first of, what has become, several visits to Portugal. It was a family visit, made as much for the cultural experience as it was to spend time with missionaries Allen and Barb Newton. We briefly met the Pereiras on that trip; when I say I briefly, I mean a polite greeting on a sidewalk before Mark and Aura got in their car to begin their hours long drive to the southern region of the country where they were pastoring. Many years have passed, and our relationship with the Pereiras has deepened, as has our experience and understanding of this beautiful place and people.
The Pereiras are now missionaries, sent by the church where I pastor, motivated by an incredible vision for church planting in a land realistically void of any significant gospel witness. Their now second of two formal periods of deputation work has had them stateside for the last several months. No one could have predicted the uncertainty that would develop once plans for this current furlough were made, and the consequent anxiety placed on a small, precious group of believers in Castelo Branco, located in the central region of the country. As the Pereira’s pastor, and with an intense passion for the people of Portugal, I just returned last week from ten days of wonderful ministry there, trying my best to fill the void left by the absence of that church’s leadership.
A follower of Christ and a minister of the Word of God would always like to believe that their time is invested well, and subsequently offers help and encouragement to the observant and listeners. That was certainly my desire during my recent days in Castelo Branco, and I am confident that there was encouragement received. However, that certainty is because I was the recipient of the encouragement and I only hope that the church family there received even a small token of what they offered to me. What God has done in the lives of these people, based I’m sure on the biblical foundation they have been given, and now tempered by the demands and challenges of these days was, and remains, inspiring.
Should Jesus’ return be still time removed, the days ahead in Portugal are filled with hope of a gospel labor and harvest unlike anything that Portugal has experienced. The pieces are in place for God to bring to fruition the vision of Reach Portugal, and of the other faithful missionaries lovingly and faithfully spending themselves for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God. We are blessed to have a small part. Pray for the laborers. Pray for more. Pray for the Portuguese lost to receive Christ. Pray for the Portuguese believers to serve Him.
Thank you for your love and support for the ministry in Portugal.