Q: How did your vision for ministry in Portugal develop?
A: I think there are two parts to this question, why Portugal? And what vision for ministry? Portugal is an important country to us. It is the country of Justin’s heritage and has formed a large part of his identity. Portugal is important to me (Ami) because Portuguese is my second language, I am in love with a Portuguese man, and I am now part of a Portuguese family. We love the country and its people.
We discovered a few years ago that only 3% of Portuguese people identify as having a saving relationship with Jesus. God used that statistic to set in our hearts a sense of urgency to see the people of Portugal hear the good news that Jesus has to offer and to see Portugal become a nation transformed, now and into future generations, by the redeeming hope we have in Christ and His Kingdom. Our vision for ministry (ministry being the means by which we accomplish mission) is to create discipleship movements that will multiply. We see in the Bible Jesus disciple a few who He sent to disciple more who they sent to disciple more and that idea is what God has placed on our hearts to re-create in Portugal.
Q: What was the impact on your family of your recent training in Ontario?
A: We recently attended a Mission Prep course in Guelph, Ontario as a family. It was 2 weeks packed full of some really important learning. Some of the subjects we covered included spiritual formation, understanding culture, ethnocentrism and cultural stereotyping, cultural competence, understanding worldview, cross-cultural communication, mission kids/third culture kids, transition, grief and loss, theology of suffering, team-building, and still much more. It was so much good information that we are still processing all that we learned.
Even though both Justin and I have been around Portuguese culture a good amount, we both feel that we are much better equipped now to understand the cultural barriers to the gospel that exist and how to better build bridges. I am also very thankful for the training on how to transition well to a new culture as a family.
Q: What do you anticipate your language/culture learning program will look like when you reach Portugal?
A: One thing that we learned in our Mission Prep is to listen, listen, listen… and then speak. If we are too quick to offer a solution (the gospel) before the people fully understand the problem, then we risk Jesus being simply added to their worldview rather than transforming it. Justin and I, as missionaries, will never understand what the problem is that needs a solution until we listen and learn first. Each culture has a different and specific barrier to the gospel so we cannot simply transplant our own version of the gospel message and expect it to resonate with the people there. We need to understand them first. With that in mind, Greater Europe Mission dedicates our first year on the field to language and cultural training. Justin and I will attend language classes. We will also seek out cultural “informants” from various generations and social demographics to whom we will be able to ask questions about the culture and language. Besides benefitting us with the knowledge that we will learn, relationships such as these will be beneficial for building trust with local people.
Q: What items for praise & prayer can you share with us?
A: God is provider, and we are so thankful for that. It has been one year since we were commissioned as long term missionaries with Greater Europe Mission and throughout that year God has been showering us with his provision. We are now in our final stretch in Canada before we get to actually move to Portugal. We are thankful for the overwhelming support we have received from the Church of Christ family! Could you join us in praying for God’s provision of our final monthly financial ministry partners? Our desire is to be in Portugal early in the new year, please pray that that desire could be accomplished. And, of course, please pray for the people of Portugal, that the Spirit would be turning their hearts toward Him.