What a joy it is has been to gather with our church family in person! After twelve weeks of online-only services, we have been allowed to gather in small numbers again. In order to make room for everyone who wants to attend church, we are having two services each Sunday and livestreaming as well. It is a different feeling. Before, there would be plenty of hugs, kisses, and hearty handshakes. We would cram into every space available and fellowship over food. For now, we are following government regulations and keeping our distance physically, but our hearts are strengthened by being in each other’s presence and worshipping together. We’re so thankful that God does not change, and we are happy to be partially back together again. We have even had visitors almost every week! Praise God!
Last week, I finished teaching Old Testament Survey to a class of nine students, all of whom displayed a great zeal for learning God’s Word. Through Zoom, we have also continued mid-week Bible studies for the whole church, as well as small-group studies for men, women, and teens.
For deaf church, we pre-record an entire service with music, preaching, and a drama. Then, we meet online to discuss what the deaf learned and to pray together. At the beginning of quarantine, participation was high. But as restrictions have loosened, the deaf are being distracted by everything else again. We are thankful for the spiritual discussions we are having with those who attend. Please pray that God will give the deaf the interest and understanding they need to be saved and to grow.
Most of our summers are jam-packed with camps, mission teams, and activities. This summer is different, but we believe that God is still at work. Fewer big events mean more time for one-on-one conversations. We’ve also been able to complete some little projects that have remained undone for years. We hope to be allowed to do our outdoor Bible club for kids, and we have been encouraging and counseling many people on the phone or through video calls. Pray for us that God would give us great creativity and open doors to know how to best move forward.
A beautiful aspect of the recent pandemic has been the testimonies of our church members. Many share how God has stretched their faith. One member said, “I’ve never read my Bible so much in my life!” Some have faced enormous personal or financial struggles. Rather than staying home having pity parties, they have been encouraging and serving others. One young mother who has had very challenging circumstances said, “At first I was frustrated that more people weren’t calling me to encourage me. Then, God reminded me that I wasn’t here to be served, but to serve.” Ever since, she has been calling and messaging other ladies in the church, including Sarah, to bless and encourage them.
Speaking of a blessing, we have one more praise to share. Lord-willing, we will have a very special Christmas present this year: another Baby Booth. Mommy and Daddy are excited, and Brother and Sister are over the moon.
Next month, we celebrate 10 years of ministry Portugal. God has been so good to us in providing partners like you who pray for us faithfully, give generously, and care deeply for the work of the gospel here. Thank you for journeying with us.
Looking forward to greater things!
David and Sarah