The International Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, Portimao, Portugal, continues to hold our church services online. Although we all naturally miss the face-to-face conversations, the online services allow our church to maintain fellowship all year long with those who normally visit us during the year for just a week or two. Because of this, our congregation has grown dramatically from a small group of 25-30 to approximately 200! Each week we have people from different parts of the world reading and praying in the services, so we really are a very international church. At our Christmas Carol service, we had people taking part from Australia, Russia, Canada, U.S., Holland, Portugal, England and Wales. Even our grandchildren in Canada have been taking part in our services each week through Bible story videos which their dad has made and the children have acted in. God is so good to us and sends us many blessings in spite of the difficulties that we are all facing at this time.
At Christmas, our church normally prepares gift boxes for local children in need. Because of the restrictions of the pandemic, this year people gave money for gift vouchers instead. We were able to provide 10€ vouchers for 72 local children in need as well as send an extra 235€ to a children’s home in Lesotho.
In this time of lockdown in Portugal, our soup kitchen is seeing record numbers of people coming for food with 60-70 people arriving for take-away meals three times per week (Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays). A local supermarket is giving us food that has reached its sell-by date, and with the help of a great team of volunteers, we are able to serve a hot meal on two of those days and soup and sandwiches on the other day. The owner of a local restaurant has volunteered his services and comes over on Thursdays to serve a hot meal that he has prepared. All those who come for food — as well as the helpers –– have to follow the protocol in place with sanitizing their hands and wearing masks. The people are most grateful for everything that they receive. At Christmas, in addition to their bag of hot food and Bible tract, the people also received a gift bag with a Gospel of Luke, pen with a Bible verse, towel, shower gel, and chocolate. Needless to say, they were delighted!