From Portugal To the World
October 3, 2012
By Ruth Davis, serving in Portugal
“I’ve been to Brazil,
Praia [Cape Verde], and Bissau [Guinea Bissau],
Goa [India], and Macau [China]
I’ve been even to Timor [East Timor]
I’ve been a conqueror.” – (Translation from Portuguese)
The catchy tune is a brief history lesson about Portuguese explorers, who went east and west, taking a cross and a sword. Their missionary work in the 1500s took them to Japan. Later, Japanese farmers moved to Brazil. The first Alliance church in Brazil was not started by an American missionary but by a Japanese woman who emigrated from Japan. I find the “web” from Asia to South America and to Europe intriguing.
During the 2011–2012 school year, our Alliance team in Portugal attended a university to learn about Portuguese literature and culture before beginning our church-planting effort. The classroom was a microcosm of Portugal’s long history of travel and, even more recently, of the Portuguese who have returned after living abroad. For example, one class consisted of 14 Chinese from Macau; one person each from Japan, Poland, Britain, France, Bosnia, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire; East Timor; and our team of Brazilians and Americans.
One student from Japan, whose name means “blessed,” became our friend. She has a black belt in karate and declares she has no religion. Yet during the school year our conversations were sensitive, especially after her father died and she was unsure of his destiny. She also requested that I read a couple of novels written by Japanese authors. She wanted my feedback specifically on one concerning the persecution of Christians in Japan in the 1500s.
Recently, our “blessed” friend came to our home and cooked us a traditional Japanese meal. We presented her with a pink New Testament in her own language, which a Japanese Alliance pastor in Brazil had sent to me. The connection to Portugal keeps going.
As The Alliance comes to Portugal, we have a unique message to the evangelical church—emphasize not only people being saved but also emphasize reproducing churches in Portugal and around the world. We’ve commented and prayed on several occasions that Portugal would have a second chance to share the message of the cross—taking “the whole gospel to the whole world.”
What You Can Do
Use the Alliance Weekly Prayer Requests to pray for international workers, like Ruth, as they continue to reach out to those who need Jesus .