Finding Hope, Raising “Matthews” in Portugal

By Pablo Sanchez   •   June 29, 2011

Teresa, Vitor and Edgar decided to attend church a week ago Sunday, each one for a different reason.

All three, however, had something in common: A search for something that would satisfy their deepest needs and desires.

Teresa has walked with the Lord, along with her husband, but she needed to reconfirm her faith and commitment to God. Vitor, meanwhile, finally accepted the invitation of his cousin, who has been a Christian for several years. Edgar had already visited the church, but he still felt something was missing.

The three arrived before the start of the Sunday service at the Assembly of God in Benfica, a neighborhood of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. They were warmly received by the ushers and placed in their seats, waiting for the start of the meeting.

Following the introduction of the senior pastor and a worship time, a young pastor, Alvaro Ladeira, showed a video and began to speak in detail of an evangelistic project in which the church was committed, called My Hope. He challenged the audience to commit themselves to open their homes and invite family, friends and neighbors together to watch special television programs on Dec. 8, 9 and 10.

More than 30 people responded to the challenge, committing themselves to be “Matthews” for the My Hope project in Portugal, where they will transform their living rooms into “mini-stadiums” where the message of salvation, hope and new life in Christ will be preached. The program will include testimonies, music and preaching of Billy Graham to friends, relatives and neighbors who do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The same thing happened in hundreds of Evangelical churches around Portugal, both on the mainland and the islands of Madeira and Azores. Believers of all ages and backgrounds made decisions to be “Matthews” and begin to pray and prepare for the historic harvest that will be raised in December of this year.

However, Teresa, Vitor and Edgar took another commitment. After explaining the project, pastor Alvaro preached a message based on Acts 10. At the end of the message, he made an altar call for those who wanted to give their lives to Christ. Vitor and Edgar did not hesitate, coming forward and praying publicly for the forgiveness of their sins and the beginning of a new life. Similarly, Teresa rededicated her life to the Lord.

As a visible expression of what God is doing in Portugal —which today is in deep economic, political and social crisis, like other nations of Europe — is that all three new believers are signing up to be host “Matthews.” Their desire is to joyfully share with neighbors, family and friends that they have found, finally, what they have been seeking: New life in Christ.