Feature

A City Called Walls

GCF in Action

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I live in a beautiful city in Portugal called Walls (Paredes in Portuguese). Ironically, very few physical walls surround the city’s homes. Its streets are full of well-preserved houses and beautifully tended gardens; I think Portuguese women are born with green thumbs!

The absence of walls makes for a daily garden show as I walk around my neighborhood. The aroma of gardenia and pine is refreshing and calming; azaleas and hydrangeas add their amazing colors to the display. I’m thankful there are no walls on my street.

But there are other walls here. There are walls of loneliness and depression, walls of religious tradition without spiritual understanding, and walls of fear.

The spiritual climate is quite different from the physical environment. There is no evangelical church here in Walls. In fact, Paredes is known in the evangelical community as a cemetery for missionaries. Many of them have been unsuccessful in church planting but very successful in seed planting.

We, as your Alliance team in Portugal, are now adding our names to the list—to be seed planters, waterers, and, hopefully, harvesters.

Charlotte’s neighbor standing in her flower garden

I once had coffee with my neighbor Carmen. She is a philosophy professor who says she is an atheist yet asks very personal questions about Jesus and His life. We talked for over an hour and a half about how Jesus is real and involved in our daily lives.

As we walked home, we stopped at a small mom-and-pop store for Carmen to print some photos. As we waited, I went to the card rack and pulled out the first one. It was a photo of a dog. Carmen said, “That is the perfect card for you,” because I volunteer at a local dog rescue.

Then I pulled out the next card down: “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.” I said, “And this is the perfect card for you.” The look on her face I can only describe as awe—I’m pretty sure I had the same the expression! One more seed was planted in the garden of Carmen’s soul.

The Portugal project is Brazilian-led and is the result of many years of dreaming and planning by the Brazilian Alliance. It’s a privilege for my fellow American colleagues, Mike and Ruth Ann Davis, and me to work alongside Danilo and Elaine Lima. They were once students at the Alliance A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary in São Paulo, Brazil, and today are leading here in Portugal.

Because there is no Alliance national church here, we have started our church planting from scratch. We serve in a variety of ministries that take us into the heart of the community and give us opportunity to share Jesus’ love.

Mike coaches an American football team called the Paredes Lumberjacks. I help coach the women’s flag football team called the Lumberjackies. Danilo is starting a mountain biking ministry. Ruth teaches religion classes in a public school, and Elaine ministers to her neighbors in amazing ways.

A book club, volunteering with a dog rescue, neighborhood tea parties, and hours spent in cafes sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen are some of the avenues the Lord has given us to reach people here in Walls.

Will you please pray for a spiritual harvest in this city?

1 response to A City Called Walls

  1. Charlotte,
    Around 2000 we visited the Algarve, Sagres area and loved our vacation. We were there during Easter. Attended a Dutch church. Asked where the Portugese “men” were. Answer was that the men think religion is women’s work. So we prayed all these years to know the Word is alive and well there. We are praying for you and your peers. May God cause his Spirit to flood the country and hearts with the desire to know him and be saved. A Break-through! IJN. We enjoyed your 5-2017 C&MA story. It seems you are using every possible avenue to reach people like Carmen. Blessings and prayers
    From Colorado Springs, CO, Barb and Bud Sabol.

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