Key verse: Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I thank and praise God for his great love for sinners like us. He loved us so much that he gave his one and only son as a sacrifice of atone so that those who believe may have eternal life. I thank and praise God for his love and vision for Portuguese people whom he wants to raise as his witness to the ends of the earth. In 2015 God worked wonderfully in and among us for which I thank and praise God.
First, Historical house church in Portugal. I thank and praise God for answering the prayers of God’s servant around the world and established first house church in Portugal between Shep. Sara and Shep. Thapelo from Johannesburg in South Africa. During the Easter Bible Conference in S. Africa, both were moved by God’s vision for Africa through Abraham’s life of faith and decided to serve Mozambique as the promised mission field. Missionary James and Josephina prayed a lot and helped them in every manner to established their family. God moved Shep. Sara’s parents’ hearts who were initially reluctant. They came to Johannesburg along with her young sister to participate in the wedding ceremony. Her father shed many tears of joy and grace while giving the hands of Shep. Sara to Shep. Thapelo. It was a great work of God. They pledged to devote their life to serve God’s work among university students in Maputo. Currently Shep. Thapelo is in Portugal learning Portuguese language and preparing for Mozambique mission. He is working for Apple service provider. Shep. Sara is expecting her first child next year May. We pray that she may finish her Ph.D. this year and be a professor shepherdess and good Bible teacher for Mozambique students. We pray that God may give her good health in the critical period.
Second, disciples raising. In 2015, we could witness a great work of God in the life of Nuno Silva. After struggling for many years, he finally decided to devote his life for God and God’s mission. Like Abraham, he left his father’s house and rented a room near to the center. He decided to learn the life of faith challenging his material problem by faith. God helped him to find part time job a live independently by faith. He presides our Worship service very faithfully on every Sunday. He also visits campus to invite students to Bible study. He is praying to serve one student with God’s word. He is also praying to complete his graduation by faith from the Classic University of Lisbon in translation. Sister Maria completed her graduation in law from Classic University of Lisbon. She went to her home town which is in Azores Island in the middle of Atlantic Ocean. But by faith she came back to Lisbon in order to learn the life of faith and be with God’s servants rather than enjoying earthly pleasure living comfortable life in the paradise on earth. Currently she is doing her Master’s in Law and praying to get internship in Sintra Court so that she can live independently by faith. Sister Melissa was blessed by God and got scholarship to do her Ph.D. in Soul National University for three years. Currently she is learning Korean in Kwangju. We pray that she may learn to live by faith by obeying God’s word. We pray that she may grow as a woman of faith.
Third, the work of God’s word. In 2015, God blessed us to study John’s gospel. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Letter of John and Acts. Every Saturday we had group Bible study in which Msn. Mateus, Msn. Rebeca, Msn. John, Msn. Grace, Shep. Thapelo, Shep. Sara, Br. Nuno and Sis. Maria participated. Msn. Mateus and Msn John served the group Bible study alternatively. God’s word gave us direction and strength to love him and love one another. Several young students came to Bible study among whom Sister Maria Helena has been consistent. She is studying with Shep. Sara. Despite of the persecution from her mother she keeps coming to Bible study even though she could not come to SWS. We pray that God may help her to overcome her current situation and come to worship God in truth and spirit. On every Sunday, Msn. Mateus and Shep. Thapelo delivered the message by faith overcoming their busy work.
Fourth, Summer Bible Conference. From July 3 -5 we held our Summer Bible conference at a Seminary “Monte Esperança” (Mount of Hope) with title “Do you Love Me?” It was indeed the mountain of hope where God´s hope was to personally let each attendee experience his love and learn how they may express love for God by following Jesus´ command. There were 14 attendees at the conference. HYPERLINK "https://www.facebook.com/mariame098"Maria Eugénia shared a message for the first time through the opening message. The Opening Message was from John 1 v 29 – 42, with the key verse 39: “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Through this passage we received that we had come to the conference to come to Jesus, spending time in the Bible as time with him to learn him personally and more deeply so as to follow him. Shep. Thapelo shared a missionary report based on Acts 1 v 8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This is the command Jesus gave me concerning Mozambique: to be his witness. God, by his grace, has a great vision for my life to be a Missionary in Mozambique who teaches the Bible. May Jesus to give me His power through the Holy Spirit to be a good Portuguese Bible teacher, for brother Cremildo, Christiano, Fernando and seven other brothers who are in need of a shepherd. On the second day of the conference brother Nuno shared a message on John 19 v 1 – 30 with key verse as v 30: When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. When Jesus cried: “it is finished.” He proclaimed a victorious cry of completion of the work of salvation for our sins. In this way Jesus completed the work of salvation required for the new creation to happen in the lives of those who believe in his death. Brother Nuno prepared the message diligently, by faith, though he had to work very long hours.
The same evening Shep. Thapelo delivered the message based on John 20 v 1 – 31 with the key verse v 18: Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. God used Mary Magdalene as the first witness of resurrection, only by his grace. The Risen Jesus saw that Mary Magdalene could not overcome the power of death that ruled her in sorrow. We cannot overcome the power of death until we meet the Risen Jesus. When we meet the Risen Jesus personally, he leads us to confess: I have seen the Lord and become a good Bible teacher whose preaching of the gospel leads others to good news. Thereafter, Sister Melissa Vieira and Sister Maria Eugénia shared their Life Testimonies. Their testimonies were distinctively written with different approaches as they are students from different faculties, however, God granted them his grace through personally meeting Jesus who worked within them both.
On the last day of the conference Shep. Sara shared a message based on John 21 v 1 – 42 with the key verse v 17: The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Jesus personally came to restore Peter who was a leader chosen by God´s grace. Though painful, Jesus helped Peter to see whether he truly loved Him. When Peter was restored to the right love relationship with God through Jesus, he could express love for Jesus by feeding and taking care of Jesus´ sheep. Love for Jesus is expressed and grows more than the love of our most valuable things in life. Maria Helena who came for the first time was so blessed that she wished that the conference could continue for more days. The Lisbon Portuguese Summer Bible Conference at Monte Esperança was blessed, by the word of God personally working in the hearts of all who attended. It was also blessed with good Portuguese traditional cuisines like Bacalhau fish and vegetable Sopas (soups). The new generation, sing along praise and worship time was so graceful as the songs reminded us of the messages throughout the conference.
Fifth, Second generation’s growth. I thank and praise God for his protection and guidance to our second generation. Eun Hye (elder daughter of Msn John and Grace) entered Technical University of Lisbon, majoring in Chemical Engineering. She set a good example for other three second gens. All of them love God and want to live by faith. They are also good students at their schools. May God raise them as prayers mothers and excellent Bible teachers for their generation.
I personally thank and praise God. Despite of my weakness and unfaithfulness, God has been very faithful to his word of promise. This year 35% of employees were laid off due to heavery restructuring of Samsung Electronics World wide. But I was given additional responsibility. God helped me to serve Sunday message and Bible studies to our group along with Shep. Thapelo and Msn John. I am a great debtor to all our co-workers who never ceased to pray for me. I pray that God may help to find new direction for 2016 with clear word and prayer topics.
One word. Be the witness of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.