Joy & Tears
This summer has been a whirlwind! When we left off 8 weeks ago, we’d just had a fantastic deaf mission team and a good week of teen Bible camp. July brought us another mission team. This church from Tennessee sent the first team we ever hosted back in 2012, and this year was their fifth year coming. The beautiful thing was the difference in Montijo from their first visit until now. The first time they came, there were just a few families meeting in our home for a Bible study; now we average more than 50 people at church. On their first trip, this mission team helped us start our summer Bible club; some of the children that came that first day are now teenagers who are saved and teaching the club themselves! The first year, the team helped us pass out flyers to inform people of our small mission; now, Montijo Baptist Mission has become Montijo Baptist CHURCH, and the team helped us pass out flyers about a small mission in another town. Our church is now helping another church plant! What a blessing to look back on what God has done in our church and town over 8 years!
After the busyness of July came Portugal’s vacation month: August. Since there was no school and more time flexibility, many more families could come to our evening mid-week service. So, we extended the services to include a supper fellowship beforehand. This gave a wonderful opportunity to know our church family better, especially the families who have recently arrived from Brazil. I preached a series on having a God-centered family. For many in our church who are far from their biological family, these services with their spiritual family were a highlight of their week.
Our church family grew closer through these good times, and, we’ve grown closer through grief as well. Many of you have prayed for Luis, the 12-year-old boy who was baptized last year, and who has been fighting a brain tumor. God gave him strength to attend Bible camp with us and have summer vacation with his family. Then, his health declined very rapidly. On Sept. 1, God graciously took him home to heaven. Luis and his parents, Mario and Carla, have shown God’s peace and grace through the entire process. Luis had left instructions for his viewing, funeral and burial. He asked people to come dressed, not in black, but in white. He chose the song we sang and the verses we read. Though terribly sad, the funeral was also a most beautiful scene. Mario and Carla were hugging and comforting others, saying over and over, “God is faithful. God is faithful.” Through tears, we sang of how we’ll praise God in heaven, as Luis is now. As we looked at the group gathered at the cemetery, we marveled at how most of us would never know each other if it had not been through church. The one thing that united us was Jesus, and He is the one Person who made us grieve, not as the unsaved, but as those who have hope. Pray for the salvation of the many unsaved family members and friends who heard the gospel at Luis’ funeral and saw through Mario and Carla the hopes Jesus Christ gives.
Luis brought much glory to God in both his life and death.
On a personal note, Sarah had wrist surgery in August to fix a torn ligament. The recovery is going well, and she’d appreciate prayers that, Lord willing, she will regain strength and mobility to do sign language again in a few months. We never know what a week will bring in the ministry here, but we are ever thankful for the work God lets us participate in here, and how He uses you to keep us here. Thank you for your part in what He is doing!