Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April Prayer Letter

April 2017 

Dear Praying Friends,

He was a long serving police officer, faithful husband and godly father.  As if that weren’t enough for the average man, he also sacrificed his hard earned money to financially support missionaries all across the world and was a tenacious prayer warrior on their behalf.  Over the years, he wrote us many notes asking for updates on people and situations we had mentioned in our monthly prayer letters. We knew we had a faithful prayer warrior in Thomas Holroyd!  But on Friday, April 14, at 6:22 pm, the Lord decided this super hero of a man had finished his course, had kept the faith and was ready to receive his rewards. 

We grieve for his children who have lost their beloved father, we grieve for the many missionaries (including us) who were the recipients of his faithful financial and prayer support down through the years.  He may not have been well known outside of his family and hometown, yet he is intimately known by His Savior and Lord.  Only eternity will reveal what his financial sacrifices and labors in prayer accomplished all across the world.  I am sure he is meeting folks right now that he was instrumental in seeing saved! 

Will you volunteer to take his place?  Will you ask God to use you as He did Thomas Holroyd?  Will you kneel before your Creator and Savior and willingly commit all He has given you to reach untold millions in this world?  Life is so short and we only have the time and resources God gives us to make an eternal difference.  Thomas Holroyd understood this and invested in eternal treasures.  Will you?

Praising God for prayer warriors,

Mark Hale

Monday, May 1, 2017

March Prayer Letter

March 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

It had been a hard couple of months.  Carnal Christians, lost folks under conviction by the Holy Spirit, financial pressures and physical illness had all taken a toll. That Wednesday evening, we all felt like staying home in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of tea in our hands.  Instead, we went out into the cold, wind and rain. Our family had come down with the flu and it was a particularly nasty variant that kept all of us sick for the two previous weeks.  Some of our folks had also been stricken and weren’t there, some because of work schedules had to miss and a few because of spiritual problems were skipping services and trying to keep others away. 

The service time came and went, but no one showed up.  I sat down heavily in one of the chairs discouraged and weary to the bone.  “Well, God” I whispered, “we came for you and that is enough.”  Just then Ana, came in apologizing for being late.  We had our song service, I preached and then we had our prayer time. 

At the end of the service, our dear sister Ana raised her hand and asked, “Pastor, may I say something?”  I nodded and she continued, “I just want to tell you that your labors are not in vain in the Lord.  Just remember that you will reap in due season if you faint not.”  This dear lady is married to a lost man who regularly blasphemes Christ and ridicules her faith, yet she comes to almost every service and this night, we didn’t minister to her, she ministered to us.  Needless to say, there were tears of joy that night. God knows exactly what we need and when we need it!

Praising God for faithful encouragers,

Mark Hale

Easter Sunday church dinner

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

February Prayer Letter

February 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

He saw our website and came for a visit.  He began attending services on a regular basis, but once comfortable, he began to interrupt my messages with off the wall questions and insults.  He loved to compare our church with others he had attended; almost always in his observations, our church came up lacking.  Finally, one Sunday morning, he insisted on interrupting the beginning of the service and I asked him to calm down and talk to me afterwards.  He left in a huff and did not return for months.

Out of the clear blue, he began attending yet again and didn’t try to interrupt services as before.  We encouraged him to read the Bible daily and he read through the entire Bible in just a few months.  He seemed to be growing closer and closer to salvation, yet his eight years in Buddhism and multiple experiences with demons clouded his reasoning and caused much confusion.   I cannot count the number of hours I spent talking with him and trying to answer his questions from the Word of God. 

Sadly, in one of our recent Bible studies, he stated that 70% of the Bible is true but 30% is error.  He further announced that God did not create the universe as Genesis chapters one and two declare, but that everything came about by evolution.  Stunned, I asked him, “Are you saying that God is a liar when He said He created the heavens and the earth?”  To which he replied, “Yes!”  Our hearts are broken by his rejection of God and His Word.  Do I regret all the time I “wasted” on him?  Not one bit!  We are praying for J. that he would surrender before God and submit to Christ as his only way to heaven.  There is always hope until his last breath.  That is why we continue to plow and plant regardless of the immediate results. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit can break the hardest of hearts and bring the proudest sinner to repentance.

Heartbroken, but not disheartened,

Mark Hale

January Prayer Letter

January 2017 

Dear Praying Friends,

He nervously fiddled with his tie and cleared his throat yet again.  He stared at his notes and quickly glanced up at the folks seated in the auditorium.  Beginning his message with hesitancy, he got his fear under control and preached a good, solid message.  It was his first time preaching since God had called him to be a pastor last August and we are proud of the man the Lord is molding and shaping him into. 

Last August, our son, Joshua came out of his room one day after his daily Bible reading and announced, “God is calling me to be a pastor!”  After seeking God’s will for his life for six years, he finally knew what his Creator and Savior had made him to do.   He has preached three times in our two churches so far this year, both in English and in Portuguese and will continue to do so until he leaves for Bible College in the fall. 

Another man in our church has also begun preaching, feeling God’s call upon him to be a pastor or missionary.  I am now training three men who have surrendered to God’s call to preach.  Please pray for these three men, (Aristarco, John and our son, Joshua) that God would help them in their studies and in the many life lessons they will need to learn to be faithful, biblical pastors in the near future.

We have also recently had 14 first time visitors attend our church.  In many of our services, we have had equal amounts of lost and saved which gives us great opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them!  God is working and we are thrilled to be a part of His plan in world evangelism!

Plowing and planting,

Mark Hale

*We are now up to 91% in our van fund!!  Thank you to everyone who has given to meet this very important need!!! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

December Prayer Letter

December 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

She was due at any moment, but the government required them both to make the eight to ten day journey. There was no option, she couldn’t stay home; so she accompanied her husband and consequently went into labor in the strange city without a room or house to give birth in.  Contrary to appearances, God was in control of not only the timing of the trip but also where her child would be born. 

2,000 years ago, Mary gave birth to our Savior in a stable.  Not exactly where any of us would want to have our children born or our wives deliver, yet this was all in God’s plan even down to the place where Christ was born – Bethlehem, as was prophesied in the Old Testament book of Micah.  Only the poor shepherds searched and found the new born Savior that night; the rest of the world ignored the signs in the heavens, the prophesies of the Scriptures and the testimony of the eye witnesses.

Sort of sounds like today, doesn’t it?  Most people don’t even think about the One whose birthday we are supposed to be celebrating.  Even many Christians get so caught up in the “spirit of the season” that they forget to bring the most precious gift to the Savior.  Just like the shepherds, we should kneel before the Savior in humility to worship Him who deserves all honor and glory.  Despite the world’s example, let us seek and find the King and give Jesus the worship He so rightly deserves.

Kneeling before the Savior,

Mark Hale

November Prayer Letter

November 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

I have a confession to make.  In September when I wrote to you about the need to replace our dying 18-year-old Volkswagen with a van, I figured that it would take a year or more to raise the needed funds.  It wasn’t that I doubted God’s provision, I knew He would provide a replacement vehicle eventually.  But in my human logic, I made a very common mistake:  I placed human limitations upon the Almighty God! 

The Lord has shown me yet again that He is not limited by human struggles, by failing economies or even by time.  In September and October, through faithful churches and individuals, God has given us 72% of the needed funds to purchase a good used van for the ministries in Portugal!!!  

We are humbled by the offerings of so many to help meet this need and we are astounded at God’s provision!!  Thank you so VERY much to each one of you who have sacrificed to help meet this important need!  Thank you to every one of you who are praying and seeking God’s will in helping us raise the last 28% of the needed funds for a replacement vehicle.

May God richly bless each one of you,

Mark Hale

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

October Prayer Letter

October 2016

The early beach goers were already staking out their places in the sand.  Towels were laid down, coolers were stocked and sunscreen was applied.  It seemed like an ordinary Sunday morning at the beach in Lagos, that is, until we arrived.

As our small fleet of cars scattered and parked and we all got out in the parking area, people began to stare.  The candidates were dressed in white gowns and we made the short walk down to the edge of the water.  Waves lapped back and forth as we got out our hymnals and sang praises to the Lord, then I opened my Bible and preached a short message on “What baptism is and what it is not”.  Here in Portugal, we baptize in the ocean as a public testimony of our faith in Christ and our desire to follow His command.  It was cause for much staring and guarded interest as the beach goers cautiously approached and listened to what we were singing and saying.  Some in our group passed out tracts and invitations while others explained why we were there. 

It was a day to be remembered, for the unsaved beach goers who watched the strange spectacle, but especially for the folks who followed the Lord in Scriptural baptism.  There were tears of joy and thanksgiving as each candidate was plunged beneath the waves and brought up as a testimony of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  The special church service that day and dinner on the grounds completed the celebration.  It is always a joy to win and baptize believers and have them become members of our churches.  In 31 years as a missionary, I never grow tired of obeying our Lord’s command!

Winning, baptizing and discipling,

Mark Hale