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Thankful Hearts

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This Thanksgiving, our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude for all that God has done recently. Our table is loaded with great things to share with you, so let’s dig in!

Mission trip: Earlier this month, I went with three men in the church to North Africa on our first mission trip. We had three goals:  to see what God is doing in this region dominated by Islam, to encourage the brothers and sisters in Christ that we met, and to deliver over 170 Christian books. It was the first mission trip for each of the three men, and God burdened our hearts as we saw countless people who have never heard the gospel. While the trip itself was exciting, it was also an important step for the church. This year, we began to give to missions, we sent out our first mission team, and we have a much stronger vision for what God can do through us to reach other people with the gospel. It is a beautiful sign of growth to see a mission work reach the point where it is now giving and sending to reach people in other parts of the world.

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Deaf service: This year has been filled with ups and downs with the deaf. On the good side, we have seen at least two people make a profession of faith, one of whom was baptized this past Sunday. On the other hand, we have also seen a decrease in attendance at our deaf services; most weeks we would have just 3-4 people. In our efforts to encourage the deaf to come back to church, we decided to start a second deaf service in a new location where we would be closer to where many of them live. Our first service had… two deaf come. Despite this, we all prayed for God to work and bring more people the next time. God answered, and at our second service we had 10 deaf show up. This was tremendously encouraging, and we are seeing signs of growth in the lives of the deaf that go beyond just coming to church. Don’t stop praying for the deaf in Portugal! We are hungry to see more deaf saved and the growth of a deaf church.

Baptism: Up until this past Sunday, we had baptized five people in our church. Praise God, we doubled that number this week. Each of the five people that were baptized has a special story to tell. Here is a snapshot testimony of each one:

Helena is a quiet and serious girl whose parents are Brazilian missionaries here in Portugal. Thus, she grew up hearing the gospel and was saved last year. She and her whole family are a blessing to us.

Luis is a twelve year old boy whose stepdad, Mario, was the first person ever baptized at our church. Pray for Luis, not just spiritually, but physically. He has a brain tumor that is growing rapidly and is proving very hard to treat. We are thankful that, whether in life or death, Jesus is his hope. Pray with us for God to heal Luis and to strengthen his family during this difficult time.

Patricia is an incredible story of God’s grace. Back in the summer of 2012, we had a mission team come, and they did a VBS in a park in right in front of Patricia’s apartment. She was there that very first day the message of the gospel was sung and proclaimed in that park, and she has been coming ever since. But now, she is the one leading those songs and helping do the Bible clubs. She is the first person in her family to be saved, so pray for the salvation of her parents, brother, and grandparents, all of whom were at church this past Sunday to see her baptism. We love seeing people saved who are the first ones in their families!

Denise is the first deaf person we have seen saved and baptized. Our co-worker, Amanda, has spent countless hours discipling and encouraging her new faith. This was a moment of celebration for all of us, and we pray for many more deaf to be saved and baptized in the years to come.

We’ve mentioned Paula several times in our letters. She was a practicing Catholic up until a year and a half ago. Two of her nieces (who are saved) were visiting her and suggested she begin attending our church. She has faithfully come ever since, and God has opened her eyes to the truth of the gospel. Pray for her faith to grow stronger and pray for the salvation of her husband and children.

Well, there is much more to share, but we want to end this letter by expressing our gratitude for you. You’ve had an important part in all the good things we shared with you today. Thank you for praying, caring for us, and for partnering with us.

Filled with Thanksgiving!

 

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