Hot Summer Greetings! We have been home from Portugal for almost 3 weeks now, where we survived in churches and hotel rooms with little or no A/C. Europeans don’t know where 68 is on the thermostat…or even 70! But when God’s Spirit is moving, you don’t focus on how physically uncomfortable you really are; and that’s what took place for those 20 days in 8 churches in Portugal and Spain.
Most of you know we began the mission with a pastor & wives’ conference in Lisbon. I have attached a group photo of those precious couples on our 1stevening together. What a kickoff that retreat was for us. Aten Ministries sponsored all 40 couples (thanks to you) in order to make this event happen; and as 1 pastor spoke so emotionally to us as we were saying our goodbyes, “you will never know the impact this weekend will have on all of us, our families and our churches.” We carried that theme in our minds throughout the entirety of our time there. We don’t and won’t know really all God does as we simply come together as husband and wife and invite Him to be with us. We know the spiritual and emotional struggle it is to be in ministry as a couple in 2019. We thank God for allowing us to minister to these men and women in what seems like such a simple thing…a 2 day getaway to refresh and recharge for battle ahead. And speaking of battles….
The day we arrived, we were trying to stay awake through a jet-laggy supper, so we made ourselves walk to a little outside burger café. Our co-workers, Scott & Lori Dix made the trip with us and Scott began to say something that was so out of context, we didn’t understand where it came from. But he felt led for some reason to share, in the midst of one of the best burgers we’ve ever had, (I must say) that after his ordination to the ministry happened earlier this year, he sensed in his spirit that someone had been assigned to him. And things began to happen to him that seemed to confirm this; he was being targeted specifically. OK!?…so, well, that’s not a topic of conversation really that you just share for no reason. But later that evening as Tammy and I were preparing our minds for the arrival of all the pastors and wives the next day, God began putting together a picture for us that would become the main focus of our ministry these next 20 days to the many Portuguese, Brazilian, British, German, South African, Angolan, Venezuelan, Spanish, Columbian, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian and even American (from Kentucky!) believers from at least 15 different nations that would cross or paths.
There’s a song that Tammy & I have led several times this year called, Surrounded. You may have heard it done by Michael W Smith, or even the writer, Elyssa Smith from The Upper Room in Dallas. It is a song based on II Kings story of Elisha being “surrounded” by the Syrian Army. It speaks of how we are to fight our battles, and that’s with praise and thanksgiving! Then we will see as the servant of Elisha did, that those who are with you are greater than the enemy you see around you. We also do an illustration in our marriage conferences, usually with a young married couple, where we have them bound by a “cord” representing the 3rdstrand of a Cord of Three Strands, and we ask them to hug each other tightly as we begin to circle them and then push them into each other, without them seeing us. It is to show how we feel like our spouse is at times, the one pushing us…but it’s really coming from The Enemy…and that is not our spouse. And just like that…we now have the spiritual Truth to share with these pastors and their wives and the 8 churches we will visit. God used the combination of Scott’s testimony of someone being “assigned” to him, along with the “cord” illustration and the song Surrounded, to set the stage every time we spoke. “This is how I fight my battles; it may look like I’m surrounded…BUT I’M SURROUNDED BY YOU.”
We ministered to a small Baptist congregation while in Seville, Spain. The pastor began to share with us that his church was located in an area of heavy depression and suicide. Pockets of these spiritual strongholds exist in Europe due to some of the witchcraft brought over from Africa & South America. We had a special time with these Spanish believers. Before we left, the pastor began to pray for us and he prayed from John 11 as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He prayed a challenge over us, that we would do as Jesus did to Lazarus; raise families from the dead. That prayer moved us as we left Spain to return to Lisbon late on a Saturday night in order to preach and teach at what is the largest Baptist church in Portugal located in the Queluz region of Lisbon the next day, Sunday. After the service, we held a short marriage conference for about 25 couples, one who just happened to be a very famous Soccer(football) player in Portugal…who if you watch soccer, you know Portugal won that European championship while we were there…pretty exciting! And out of the blue, God brings Luis Vidigal and his wife to our conference.
The Lord did that several times actually, bringing some VIP’s to our little events, unknown and unexpected to us, which included the President of the Evangelical Alliance of Portugal and the Methodist Bishop of all Portugal to our last conference in Porto.
So, yes God did not waste an opportunity that we gave Him. We had 5 salvations during a conference at a large Pentecostal church in Aveira. We led a conference and Sunday morning at All Nations church in Caroveira with a British pastor and God gave us one of the most powerful worship experiences in our 28 years of leading worship…we could barely hear ourselves singing…the power that was coming from those people…overwhelming. And remember the prayer the Spanish pastor prayed over us? The night before we left, we spoke
at a church where 3 other congregations joined in. A Portuguese Nazarene pastor, Bro. Timoteo, was dismissing with prayer and he began to pray that we would continue to do the work of family ministry and that we would resurrect families from the dead…just as Lazarus!