Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Prayer Letter

December 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

I had been working hard for days to finish the construction before the next rain front moved in.  I had one more day of good weather and was confident that I could finish.  My body, however, decided to protest and I woke up that morning with horrendous lower back pain.  Barely able to move, I consoled myself with the thought that I could at least get some work done on the computer.  That is when the electricity went out.  That same day, my wife needed to go to the grocery store but discovered another problem, the car wouldn't start.  Muttering under my breath, I was not in a thankful mood. 

Our son, Joshua, however, saw things from a different perspective.  Instead of seeing all the problems and wondering what was going to go wrong next, like his murmuring father, he saw all the things that were still working, all the things we still had and all the blessings we still enjoyed.  He said, “Dad, don’t be discouraged, we still have lots to be thankful for!”

Sometimes our children teach us.  Sometimes the young instruct the old.  My son was right.  We all have so much to be thankful for and so many blessings that we still enjoy.  With Thanksgiving past and Christmas coming soon, we all should stop and thank our God for the many blessings He has given us and most importantly, thank Him for the coming of the Savior so many years ago.

Thanking the Father for His Son and for mine,

Mark Hale

Friday, November 9, 2012

November Prayer Letter

November 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

The enemy soldiers had occupied her country for her entire short life; but that was about to change.  Sometime after midnight, gunfire could be heard from many directions and with the coming of dawn their world erupted.  Great, earth shaking explosions were heard and felt coming from the nearby shore and when they looked, the sea was filled with ships all the way to the horizon.  She and her family hid in their small home until the battle was over.  The date was June 6, 1944.

Raised as a Catholic, she grew up in Normandy, but as an adult, the urge to travel took her all over Europe.  Now in her seventies, she has lived for a number of years here in Portugal.  She signed up for our English class and began coming to our church services with a Christian friend.  She has been attending faithfully for the past two months even when her friend cannot come due to work.

She listens intently to my messages and has many questions about the Bible, salvation and the world from a biblical perspective.  She is getting closer and closer to salvation and we are anxiously praying for her to come to Christ before it is eternally too late.  Please remember Gabrielle in your prayers. 

Praying for souls,

Mark Hale

Friday, October 12, 2012

October Prayer Letter

October 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

A year and a half ago, when Pastor Mark Pereira asked me to help him restart the Bible institute in the city of Albufeira, it was a small beginning.  We had two men who consistently studied with us and we are thankful for their faithfulness.  Last semester, we had four who began studying at the institute and this year, we have seven adults who meet with us each week. 

Pastor Pereira has also set up a live streaming video feed on Ustream where others, who cannot be there in person, can tune in and study with us.  At any given time, we have five or six students in other locations tuning in to our classes.  If their schedules prohibit them from watching the sessions live, they can watch them later as all of our classes are recorded and saved.  We have students from other parts of Portugal studying with us as well as the African nation of Cape Verde and hopefully soon, Brazil.

Pastor Pereira and I have a great burden to see faithful men and women properly trained and able to minister to the almost 300 million Portuguese speakers on our planet.  Technology is a great tool that we are using to try to evangelize the lost.   Please continue to pray for this growing and vital Bible institute ministry.  It is our hope and prayer that in the coming years, we will see hundreds trained and serving all over the Portuguese speaking world and reaching people we could never hope to meet.

Thank you for making this possible!

Mark Hale

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September Prayer Letter

September 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

I first met him over two and a half years ago and at that time he let me know that he would NOT be attending services at our church.  He was polite, but very firm on that fact.  I prayed for him but never expected to see him at our church.  Yet the first Sunday of this month, he walked in to services and brought with him a 71 year old friend! They are both lost but seemed to enjoy the services and promised to return this next Sunday.  It is amazing to see the power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of sinners and how only He can draw them to Christ when we are powerless to effect any change!  Praise the Lord!

As another way to get involved in our city and open up more opportunities for personal evangelism, we are offering free English classes at our church building during the week.  We used this method of evangelism in Lithuania years ago and it seems to be bearing fruit already.  Many have called inquiring about the classes and two are coming this Sunday to register. 

Thank you, in advance, for your faithful prayers for this new ministry, for the new visitors and for the city of Lagos.  It is our honor to represent you here in southern Portugal.

Sowing the seed,

Mark Hale 

The flyers advertising the English classes (front and back).  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Prayer Letter

August 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

After months of planning and preparation, we held our first Vacation Bible School in our city, Lagos.  With the help of our sister church in the city of Albufeira, we had between 10 and 15 in attendance each day!  Monday through Friday,  it was a whirlwind of activities, games, lessons, and meals and it was a blessing to see the children and young people so interested and involved.

When the week was over and the last of the children had gone home, one boy stayed behind talking with our son, Joshua.  Cris has been coming to our church for the past two years, hearing the gospel and coming closer and closer to the truth.  As they talked Cris stated, “I want to be saved.”  Joshua said, “Let’s go talk to my dad.”  “No, I’ll wait until Sunday to talk to him” Cris stalled.  Joshua, sensing the urgency of the moment, warned “But what if you die between now and then?”  Cris agreed it was too important to wait and came inside the church where he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior!!!  PRAISE THE LORD!!!! 

After we tearfully welcomed the newest member of God’s family, Joshua, as has been his habit for the last two years, accompanied Cris to his apartment.  Just minutes old in the Lord, Cris turned to Joshua and said, “I don’t think my mom is saved.”  He already has a burden for the lost in his family!  “We’ll keep praying for her like we have for you” Joshua informed him.  When they arrived at his door, Cris looked at Joshua and with a sly grin said, “You don’t have to walk me home anymore to make sure I am safe.”  “Why not?” our son asked.  Cris answered with assurance, “Because now I am saved!”

Blessed assurance,

Mark Hale

Click on this link to view a photo album of this year's VBS:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July Prayer Letter

July 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

The waves hit my back with chilling frequency as I watched him in his white robe wade out to join me.  A small group of church members watched from the shore as we prepared to follow our Lord’s command. 

A few years ago, we were on a short furlough and in the middle of a missions conference.  Michele was at a ladies meeting and Joshua and I were in the hotel room for a few hours.  He had been asking about salvation for a few weeks but hadn’t understood completely until that day.

“Dad,” my son insisted, “I want to be saved right now.”  I took him through various verses and then questioned him to make sure he comprehended what he was asking to do.  His answers showed me that he indeed understood and was ready.  We knelt down by his bed to pray when there was a knock at the door.  The hotel maid entered to replace our towels.  After she left, Joshua again asked to be saved, so we knelt down only to have another knock at the door.  This time it was the pizza delivery man with our lunch.  My son would not be deterred, for as soon as I had paid and shut the door, even with the aroma of pizza filling the room, Joshua insisted he wanted to be saved.  I joyfully led him to the Lord that day.

This year Joshua completed our discipleship class and now I had the privilege of baptizing my son as he publicly showed his faith in Christ.  As he boldly stood beside me, my heart was filled with joy for his salvation, for his spiritual growth and for the privilege to have led him to the Lord, disciple him and now baptize him. After I brought him up from the sea, we embraced and waded back to shore together. Joshua has already surrendered his life to the Lord to do anything God wants.  Please pray with us for him that God would reveal His will for Joshua’s life.   I am a very blessed father!

Praising the Lord,

Mark Hale

June Prayer Letter

June 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

With my father standing next to me, I waited at the front of the church.  The music started and she entered with her father at her side.  She was a vision in pure white, but to tell you the truth, I don’t remember the dress all that much, but I sure do the gorgeous lady who was wearing it!!  I found it difficult to breathe, she looked so beautiful.  Could this really be happening?  Could this classy, elegant, godly lady be walking down the aisle to be my wife? 

It is hard to believe that 25 years have passed since that wonderful day.  Honestly, it feels more like a year or two.  I have gotten old, fat and gray while my bride has hardly changed.  I think she is more beautiful now than when I married her. I hear her humming or singing hymns while she fixes a meal, I see her hunched at the computer, preparing lessons and teaching aids.  I watch her stretch our food budget when it doesn’t look like we will have enough to last the month.  She encourages and helps.  She listens and loves.  She is devoted to God and her family and I am still amazed that the Lord has blessed me so much with a treasure like Michele!

I was wrong on our wedding day.  During that long ago ceremony, I looked at my beautiful wife and thought, “There is no way I could ever love her more than I do right now!”  Oh, how wrong I was!  She and I have shared so much over the years; triumphs and failures, abundance and want, great blessings and horrible losses.   Yet through it all, God has greatly blessed us and been with us every step of the way.  It is only because of His great love and care for us that we can celebrate these wonderful 25 years. 

To God be the glory, great things he hath done!

Mark Hale

Friday, May 25, 2012

May Prayer Letter

May 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

May fourth was a momentous occasion in the Hale household.  On that day, my wife, Michele, became a graduate of Louisiana Baptist University.  She received a Masters degree in education after several hard years of labor.  Unfortunately, she didn’t get to attend the ceremonies there, but we did have a small celebration here in Portugal to honor her achievement.

What is amazing to me is that in addition to her master’s work, she also is the primary teacher as we home school our son, Joshua whom she has taught since Kindergarten.  She also has prepared hundreds of Sunday School lessons along with review games, work sheets, take home papers, verse tokens and a multitude of other materials for students and teachers – and she has done that in both the Lithuanian and Portuguese languages!!  She has worked side by side with me in all of our ministries and still finds time to keep our home, prepare thousands of meals, be a wonderful mom and wife and an excellent helpmeet to me.  Needless to say, I am impressed with my wife, very proud of her achievements and so very thankful to the Lord for this amazing woman!

I cannot believe next month we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!  I still wonder, as I am sure many of you do, why this beautiful, talented, intelligent and hard working lady ever married me! The last time I asked my wife this question, she told me, “Love is blind!”

Thanking God for my wife,

Mark Hale

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Prayer Letter

April 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
The elderly farmer and his wife sat forlornly looking over the destruction of their crops.  Brown, shriveled and stunted, their winter cabbage and cauliflower plants resembled dirty softballs.  Months of drought and extremely low temperatures had wiped out countless hours of back breaking work.
We have witnessed to this couple over the years and slowly gotten better acquainted.  We have shared food and time with them and my heart broke to see them there.  Slowly, he lifted his head and saw me standing on the edge of his field.  The burden of his loss weighing heavily upon him, he struggled with his emotions before he could speak.  “It’s all gone…we’ve lost it all.  What the cold left, the drought killed.”
The possible bankruptcy of Portugal has had a cascade effect.  Jobs are disappearing, the economy is slowing down and taxes continue to increase.  Now the weather is forcing many who were barely paying their bills into hunger, despair and financial ruin.  Please pray that we will be able to balance the desperate physical needs with the all important spiritual need of each Portuguese. We are praying that through this bleak and hopeless crisis, the apathy of the people here will become a hunger and thirst for salvation in Christ.
Laboring in His fields,
Mark Hale

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Prayer Letter

March 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

There are times when I wonder, “Why bother witnessing?  No one wants to hear, so why should I keep trying?”  Recently, I asked myself that very thing after once again, trying to be a witness in actions as well as words.

The grandmother’s old car was on the side of the road with a flat tire and she had no cell phone to call for help.  I stopped and offered to change her tire and she cautiously accepted.  She had no tools to undo the clamp holding her spare tire, but I had the right ones and within twenty minutes, her car was road worthy again. 

She thanked me and I gave her a tract and invitation to our church.  She looked at the pamphlets and scowled and began shaking her head.  Handing them back, she simply said, “No thank you” and got in her now functioning car and drove away without a backward glance.

Cleaning my hands while I murmured, I asked myself why I bother.  But the answer is so clear – because Christ died for every person and they need to have the opportunity to accept him or reject him.  That is why we are here and why we will continue to witness to this lost and darkened city.  This generation will not be able to say they did not have an opportunity to hear the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…

Mark Hale    

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February Prayer Letter

February 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

I drove up to our church building still rejoicing over the wonderful service we had just had the previous Sunday with two first time visitors.  The five young men blocking the front door of our church, however, were not rejoicing.  I greeted them and asked to get through, but they simply stared belligerently.  After an uncomfortable minute or two, they sullenly allowed me to work my way through them and open the church door.  They walked out to the parking lot and disappeared from sight.  I dimly heard a popping sound but didn’t think much about it. 

After working for a while, I began wondering about that ominous sound.  I went back outside to find my car covered with obscene and insulting graffiti and the driver’ side rear view mirror destroyed.  We have gotten used to cleaning spit off our church windows and cleaning up the trash left in front of our door, but this was a new twist.

I drove to the carwash in a haze of confusion and hurt.  I didn’t even know those guys, why did they do this?  As I got out of my car, an angry man ran up yelling, “I was next, you cut the line!”  I immediately apologized and offered to back out, but the man’s demeanor changed instantly.  “No, that’s ok, it is enough that you apologized.”  I quickly washed my car and parked. Going back, I inserted the coins into the machine for the man.  “Why are you doing this?”  He asked.  “You are much different than all the men I know, what makes you so different?”   There in the car wash, I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him.

Later, I realized that if those teenagers hadn’t vandalized my car, I wouldn’t have been at that car wash at that moment, to share Jesus Christ with this man.   Only God could take an act of hate and turn it into a beautiful opportunity to share the love of the Savior.

In awe of God,

Mark Hale

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 2012 prayer letter

January 2012

Dear Praying Friends,

As the time for the service arrived, no one had come.  All the labor that Michele and the boys had put into the bell choir, all the invitations that had gone out, all the doors that we had knocked on, all the prayers that had been offered now seemed in vain.  This morning, the church sat empty except for our family. 

I stepped out onto the front walk, squinting into the distance, hoping to see someone who was coming, but the streets remained devoid of movement.  “Well Father, it is in your hands” I prayed, feeling a wave of sadness engulf me.  Then in the distance I saw them coming.  My heart began beating wildly; we were actually going to be able to share the good news of Christ’s birth to people here in Lagos, Portugal!!

We had eight in our services that morning, two adults for the first time!  Not only did they enjoy the Christmas bell choir, but they listened intently to the message I preached.  All of them stayed for the time of fellowship after the services and thanked us when they left.

We were thrilled that these folks had come and were humbled by the faithful prayers that so many of you had offered.  We truly count it our privilege to be your representatives to the Portuguese people and be able to share with them the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Proclaiming the Savior,

Mark Hale