Rev. Dr. José Carlos Pezini
The time I recently spent in Portugal was fruitful and effective. I felt the grace of God upon me in every step. The first two days of my time I spent mentoring and coaching three Brazilian pastors. One of them will go to Italy at the beginning of 2012 to serve as a church planting missionary. Another one will go to Angola for the same purpose. It is interesting that up to now, I have spent time with pastors who are serving in local congregations. So it is a new thing for me to work with persons preparing for the mission field.
One afternoon I had the privilege of speaking to forty-five pastors at the Portuguese Bible Institute in Lisbon. I spoke on the principles of planting churches and the challenges of church planting. These pastors are from different denominations, and they are all taking the initiative to plant new churches.
It was a marvelous time. I could see the excitement among them. Because of the lack of church membership in Portugal pastors feel discouraged, and sometimes it is difficult for them to believe that it is possible to start a new church. My goal was to motivate them and let them know that God loves them and wants to save their people. After that, I taught at the Leadership Training Center in Cascais, the school that I helped to start. The Rev. Alex Branco is one of the pastors there. I have been mentoring him for about seven years. He is young, enthusiastic, energetic, organized and doing a great job. Last year he baptized 38 people. His church is growing above the average for churches in Portugal.
The Leadership school that was started four years ago is also growing. Rev. Branco planned graduation so that I could be part of the graduation ceremony. I taught several classes about leadership, “My Place in the Body of Christ,” to the local congregation, and on Sunday I taught Sunday School and preached at the main worship service.
Some of you may remember the story of a businessman who came to the leadership training class last year and committed his life to Jesus Christ. This year I met him again and saw how happy he is. He shared with me his excitement about being part of the program.
From my perspective, this trip was one of the most effective trips that I have had in Portugal. I could see the results of this ministry of coaching and mentoring. The young missionary pastors are happy and eager to go into the mission field. I had breakfast with these three pastors, and they challenged me to go to Angola and see about the possibility of starting a Leadership Training School there. The pastor going to Angola said that where he will live, there is not a single school to prepare leaders for the local congregation. God is opening the door for us to enlarge our territory.
Towards the end of my trip I had dinner with the Rev. David Valente, the President of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal. This is a church in great need. The whole denomination has twenty-eight small congregations. They do not have enough pastors and cannot support those they have adequately. He asked me to help them find someone who is willing to serve as a missionary among them.
As a result of this trip, I can see that what Jesus said is still true, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Please pray for Angola asking God for discernment to understand the right time to go and build the capacity of the church in that country to make disciples.
Rev. Dr. J. C. Pezini
Coordinator for Portuguese-Language Ministries