“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations” (Psalm 89: 1).
It was a special joy this year to be able to celebrate Easter together as the International Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, Portimao, Portugal, family again after three years. Since the pandemic hit here in March 2020, our last Easter Sunday together face-to-face was in 2019. How wonderful it was this year to be able to celebrate our Lord’s victory over sin and death and be together with our brothers and sisters. We are so blessed to be part of His wonderful family worldwide. The pandemic has helped us to really appreciate the joy of worshipping together and not to take it for granted.
In March of this year, many Ukrainian refugees arrived in Portimão, fleeing from the war in their homeland. Fifty-nine of the women and children were welcomed to a hostel here which, amazingly, is owned by a Russian couple who had planned to set up tourist accommodation. Instead of making a business for themselves, they gladly offered their premises for the Ukrainians to use. What a great example to the rest of the world! For several weeks our soup kitchen provided meals for them three times a week until the local council stepped in to give them funds to do their own cooking.
Another Easter joy this year was the opportunity to visit this Ukrainian hostel and deliver special Ukrainian Easter cakes. These delicacies were home-made by an elderly German man in our community who is familiar with their customs and took great delight in baking for them. The cakes were received with great joy, as you can imagine. In the absence of translators, the only language we had in common was smiles.
We have several other Ukrainian families (mothers and children) coming to our soup kitchen for food and clothes. One or two of them know some English so we are able to communicate a little. They are delightful people and always so grateful for everything they receive. One of our soup kitchen volunteers is setting up an apartment for a Ukrainian family, and several helpers at the kitchen have offered furniture and appliances. It’s a joy to see people working together to provide for those in such need.
Our soup kitchen is now providing approximately 200 meals three times a week. This is quite a change from 12 years ago when we began with 12 meals once a week! Back then we were serving people primarily from Portugal and former Portuguese colonies like Mozambique, Angola, and Cabo Verde. Now our customers also come from more diverse places as well such as Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan. Everyone is very welcome, and we even offer a non-pork menu for our Muslim friends. We pray that all those who come for help will see the Lord’s love in action and come to know Him.
Joy and David Borgan