Sunday, May 22, 2011

Newton News, 22 May, 2011

Please be in prayer for our dear sister in Christ, Cristina. Many of you have prayed for her cancer and she has been in remission for a while now. All of her exams have been clean lately, but she called me tonight asking for prayer. She is in a lot of pain and unable to sleep.

Helena and her son Alexandre continue to come faithfully to the services. I had a really good opportunity to witness to her husband, André not long ago. He seemed to listen well. He says he doesn't want to be a hypocrite, so he doesn't want to make some profession that he doesn't really mean in his heart. He said he prayed the "sinner's prayer" several times in his mother's Pentecostal church back in the Ukraine, but he only did it to get the pastor and his mother off his back. I was encouraged by his honesty, and by the way he seemed to want to understand. Please pray that he will truly be born again!

I joined a local community choir. They sing in mass sometimes, so we had to establish the ground rules. I guess they were pretty desperate for a tenor, 'cause they took me anyway (they have been very respectful to me). I have made good contacts there and have already had some chances to witness for Christ.

The director of the radio station where our program is aired wrote me last week saying that they (at the station) are avid fans of the program and that they would like to put us in another time slot along with the one we already have. He wanted to increase our listening audience by putting the program on at 6:30 PM (we are on during the lunch hour right now) to catch folks going home from work. He made me an offer I couldn't refuse; the second spot half price, and free for the rest of May. I took it!

I have the privilege of going to Lithuania a week from Friday to teach a week-long seminar in their Bible institute. We met Pastor Audrius when we were there a couple of years ago looking at cabins. We were impressed with him and his work and invited him to Portugal to present that work in several churches here. Our church and two others here have taken him on for financial support. He has been running an institute there with almost 30 students and another in neighboring Latvia with about the same number, all this on a very modest pastor's salary. His 22-year-old son, Paulus, is also developing a great ministry with a government orphanage. This work has been at great personal sacrifice as well. He even delayed getting married for a year in order to fulfill all the demands the orphanage put on him. The results are already being seen as he is able to witness to those kids and has even been able to start bringing them to church. Our church felt led to support these servants of God.

Summer is almost here and we are preparing for camps. We have had some wonderful help over the years to get this ministry going and just in the past year we have been able to make some important advancements. Please pray as we prepare that God will receive all the glory.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011 Update

We had a first-time visitor on Sunday. Her name is Elena (Really good name. In case you don't know, our granddaughter is also Elena). This Elena is Ukrainian. Her testimony was very interesting. She had been to some sort of evangelical church a few times in Ukraine, but was not a believer. Someone gave her a Bible there, but she said she was having a hard time being motivated to read it. 10 years ago she and her husband, André, moved to Portugal in search of a better life. She brought her Bible with her. About a year after arriving in Portugal she said she started wanting to know about God in a way she never had before. The Holy Spirit guided her to the source of all truth and she began reading the Bible, this time with a purpose. She accepted Jesus Christ as Savior through the message she read. She then started searching the internet to find out more about this new life she had. She researched different denominations, and came, eventually, to the conclusion that baptist churches were the closest to the Bible. Last week, she found our web site, and here she was on Sunday. She lives in a town just a few kilometers away from Castelo Branco. She had a wonderful spirit and said she will be back and will bring her 6-year-old son, Alexandre. She asked prayer for her husband's salvation.

I have had several opportunities to share the Gospel lately with new people. Most of the time it has been just in a small way, but I am having repeat conversations with some. Please pray especially for Fernando, Celeste and Mateus for salvation.

Barb is gearing up for her second sign language course. It was scheduled to start last week but got postponed until next week. At this very moment she is having a practice session with one of the ladies from the last and future classes, Marta. Please pray for this contact as well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Newton News January 2011

Our first (Castelo Branco) missions conference was a great success. Even with all the complications. First, our son-in-law Mike Pereira was supposed to preach on missions giving. As you have already heard his father passed away the Thursday before the conference, so he was gone dealing with that. I want to thank everyone who gave financially to help him through this trial. It was an expensive ordeal as he had to travel out to the islands, rent a car to get around and who knows what other expenses in that situation. I know that many of you prayed for him as well during this time, and we are grateful. Some other people we had hoped would attend didn't come; it was just our faithful few. We were grateful for them as always and we do not take them for granted. In one way it was good that it was that way because we were able to go deeper with the idea of giving than we might have been able to if there were visitors present. Pastor Audrius and his wife, Diana, were a tremendous blessing. He preached a couple of wonderful, touching messages. They communicated very effectively the ministries God had given them in Lithuania and Latvia. I believe our church and some others they were in will be able to support them. What a wonderful opportunity! They have about 30 in their Bible institute in Lithuania and 25 in Latvia studying to serve God. Our small help can spread very far by the grace of God.

Someone gave the funds we needed to buy roofing for the bath houses and other places where we need it. I am in the process of putting together the materials and in a couple of weeks we have a friend from the states coming to help. I am sending a request out today to everyone else here in Portugal for help during that time. Our next event at the Mount of Olives is snow camp. It comes later this year than usual since it is based on the Fat Tuesday, Carnaval, Mardi Gras (pick the name you know best) date and so will be the 6th through 9th of March. Hope there is still snow on the mountain, but we will have a good camp regardless.

We got our well dug, and there is plenty of water. Unfortunately, the pump we have won't work with the depth of the water in the well, so we will need to get a submersible pump system. That will cost about 1000 euros. We can still pump from the pond for now, it just has to be heavily bleached (frogs and snakes and stuff doing what they do in the pond) and we have to haul drinking water from town. When we get the new pump we will be doing great. We still need more bunk beds and (eventually) to move forward with some more electricity. We have a small generator, and we would like to get a bigger one. Ideally we would like to put in solar but it is pricey. I think the best thing to do is get a bigger generator for now and as we can start buying solar a panel at a time. Even a small amount can be useful, but it will take quite a bit to power everything.

Barb is taking sign language classes twice a week. Apparently the Portuguese version is a LOT different from the American, but her background in it still helps a lot. There are 12 of them in the class and the teacher seems intrigued by Barb's reason for learning the sign language. Her next assignment is to explain about our "house". In other words the camp. She will have a great opportunity to explain who we are and what we are doing. At the mall the other day she felt a tap on her shoulder. It was one of the other students, a young lady who works in the mall. Barb has had a couple of opportunities to talk to her. We already knew of a deaf man that worked in the food court at that mall busing tables. We went there one afternoon this week to see if he was there. Barb took her sign language book and we sat in the food court and did some studying, Barb practicing her signs. The man was there, and he was not able to resist. They had a long conversation, and he wants to help her more with her signing. His name is Abel and the young lady is Marta.

A week from Monday we will be in Albufeira to help with a week-long evangelism campaign. I am excited to see how the Lord uses it. I have been put in charge of the music program, so I get to play Ira Sankey. We are scheduled to do the same thing here in Castelo Branco and in at least two other places this year. We believe God has directed us into this effort so we are expecting great things from it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Newton News January 2011

I was in the Post Office yesterday picking up a package. The conversation went something like this:

"This is heavy! I should have had you come back here to get it." (lady clerk)
"Its Bibles," said I.
"Oh, are you one of those "elders"? (what they call Mormons)
I always react strongly to comments like that. Even today someone asked if we were JW's. I figure a strong reaction will ease the minds of those who don't like the particular cult, and if they themselves are members I don't want any confusion about what I think of their beliefs.
"NO. I am a Baptist! In fact I am a baptist pastor."
There were very few customers in the place at that moment, and two other clerks came closer to hear this conversation. The comment was made that religious leaders like to tell people what to do. I let them know that we don't operate like that and they seemed genuinely interested to hear what the Biblical function of a pastor really is. I had the opportunity to emphasize the importance and exclusivity of the Bible message, and left them with literature and an invitation to our missions conference next week.

I mentioned the query today as to whether we were JW's. This happened while we were distributing John and Romans in the old section of town, at the base of the castle. We are including an invitation to our missions conference. We have also convinced the owner of our favorite pizzeria to make a discounted student menu and we put a flier about it in our packet of literature. I tell young people that I give the packet to, "Two important things: The Word of God and pizza. It doesn't get much better than that!" We have started targeting areas that have a lot of college students with it.

Please pray for our missions conference next Thursday and Friday nights. We have a Lithuanian pastor and his wife coming and I was able to get him meetings in 4 other churches while he is here in Portugal. He is doing a great work in Lithuania, pastoring a church and directing a Bible Institute to train pastors both in Lithuania and Latvia. We want to help by supporting the Bible Institute. He has been bearing the expenses almost alone, and he is not a rich man. Our son-in-law will be preaching the conference. A couple in our church were in Angola in the 60's and helped start churches there. They will speak about those days during the conference as well.

We still have a number of projects that need to be done at the Mount of Olives. Top on the list right now are roof panels to finish covering the bath houses and the eating area and two cabins (will cost about $3000 total) and more bunk-beds. The price of those keeps fluctuating, but they cost about $260 right now. We need a total of 25 more of them to get to full capacity.

God bless!