Thursday, November 20, 2014

October Prayer Letter

October 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

Our sending pastor and his wife were visiting with us for a few days and we were all crowded into our Volkswagen, driving to church that Sunday.  We began to see road rally cars parked on the sides of the road and wondered out loud why those off road racing vehicles were on regular roads filled with cars, trucks and buses.

As we drove on down the highway, more and more of these race cars were parked along the shoulders of our road.  I have never seen this in Portugal.  Always before, when there is a rally race or the famous Dakar Race, the police block off certain roads for the racers to use without endangering the public.

Not this Sunday.  As we approached a dirt road, an air born race car flew out onto our road, bounced once and then swerved right into our lane.  I braked and headed for the shoulder, but at the last moment before impact, the race car swerved back into its own lane and roared down the road. 

Needless to say, we all thanked God for His safety that day!  Thank you for your faithful prayers on our behalf!!  None of us know what is around the next corner.  Praise God, our Heavenly Father does!!

Safe in His hands,

Mark Hale

Monday, October 20, 2014

August Prayer Letter

August 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers for our vacation Bible school! We had 7 children from our city of Lagos, two were first time visitors.  It was a busy week but blessed by the Lord.  We have new contacts with these families and we discovered during the week, that six of the seven children who attended do not know Jesus as their Savior.  We have much prayerful work ahead of us to reach these precious children and their families for the Lord. 

Earlier this year, I asked for your help with our “Sewing for Smiles” ministry.  So many of you responded with offerings and in sending boxes with fabric remnants that Michele now has enough for the next three years!!  We are truly amazed and humbled by your response to this need.  Thank you so very much!

A mother of one of the girls who attended our VBS recently visited our church and stayed afterwards to ask some very insightful questions.  Please pray for Monica, that she would continue to attend, hear the gospel and be saved. 

Thank you for staying with us through thick and thin.  Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support.  We count it our honor to be your representatives here in southern Portugal.

Sowing the seed,

Mark Hale

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July Prayer Letter

July 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

Four years ago, our son, Joshua, befriended two neighborhood boys (Igor and Cris) and faithfully witnessed to them.  Cris got saved two years ago in our first Vacation Bible School and still attends services.  Igor attended our services faithfully for a while, but under the influence of his devout Catholic grandmother, he gradually became cold and hostile.  He came to services occasionally until he felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction and then avoided us for months at a time.  Our son, Joshua, continued to invite him and try to be a true friend in spite of the insults and obscenities Igor threw his way.  Surprisingly, Igor agreed to come to camp with us last week.

The first night of camp, I preached a simple salvation message and when I gave the invitation, Igor was among those who came forward to accept Christ!!!  15 precious young people were saved during camp!!!  PRAISE GOD!!!  The missionaries were united in their desire to glorify God and to see souls saved; and oh, how God blessed!!  I knew you were praying, I could feel the presence and power of God during each one of my sermons!!  Thank you so very much for your labors in prayer! 

We are humbled and thrilled to be a part of this harvest and to see our beloved Igor finally come to Christ!!  We want to thank each one of you who have prayed for this young man for the past four years!  He is fruit to your account!!

Please remember our upcoming Vacation Bible School.  We long to see more souls saved and families reached!

Praising God and thanking you,

Mark Hale


Igor (wearing the red bandana)

June Prayer Letter

June 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

Sometimes we don’t see the forest for the trees.  We focus on one thing and miss other equally important things.  We look at what we don’t have and lose sight of what we do.

Recently in one of our Bible Institute classes, I was talking about how discouraging it can be to pray and labor, then pray and labor more and still not have much to show for your efforts.  I was commenting on the apathy and hostility we face in Lagos in our efforts to reach the lost of this 2,000 year old city. 

Jan looked at me strangely for a moment and then quietly said, “But Pastor Mark, if you had not come here, I wouldn’t be saved, and more importantly, my daughter, Anna, wouldn’t be saved!  Her being saved means more to me than my own life.  How can you put a price on one soul, let alone two?”

I immediately realized my mistake.  Instead of focusing on those who have been saved, I was focusing on the many which still reject Christ.  I am thankful for Jan and his new found faith.  I am thankful for those who have accepted Christ and for our small young church here in this ancient, darkened city.  I am also very thankful for those of you, who in spite of world economic crises and the resulting financial pressures, still keep your promises and support our ministries in prayer and finances!  It is so easy to focus on those who haven’t and not be truly thankful for those who have!

Thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for your faithfulness, thank you for staying with us through thick and thin.  Every soul saved, every life changed is fruit to your account!

Grateful for you,

Mark Hale

Monday, May 19, 2014

May Prayer Letter

May 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

I would like to give you an update on our ministries since so many of you have been praying, giving and participating:

*Sewing for smiles ministry is going full speed ahead.  Michele has now sewn 98 stuffed animals and taken them to our local hospital.  Many of the doctors and nurses now know her by sight and gladly welcome her.  Our church website has had over 80 visits this past month, so the word is spreading about our new church and our love for children and their families. We have received many boxes of material for this ministry and more are on the way.  We are appalled at the cost of postage but are thankful that only one box has been stopped and taxed by the Portuguese customs officials.  We want to thank each one who has given money for us to purchase material here and those who have given to mail the boxes.  Only eternity will reveal what your sacrifices have accomplished!

*The Bible Institute ministries continue to grow.  We have had four new students begin attending in person and continue to have between twenty and thirty international students tuning in live via our UStream broadcasts.  A man in our church in Lagos has begun studying with me each week.  Praise God!

*Our vacation Bible school is coming up in July as well as camp.  The mother of one lost teenager has stated that her son will be going to camp with us because “he needs it”.  How true that is!!  PLEASE pray that God would bless these important upcoming ministries with souls saved and Christians brought into a closer walk with Christ.

Thank you so very much for your faithful prayer and financial support.  We could not be here and continue these ministries without you dear friends!

Working for the night is coming,

Mark Hale

Friday, April 18, 2014

April Prayer Letter

April 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

“I just don’t agree with you that there is only one way to heaven, I believe there are many ways to God!” he proclaimed.  I told him that he was correct, there are many ways to God – but as his Judge.  There is only one way to God as his Father – through Jesus Christ alone.  He looked at me for a few moments, and then turned and walked away.  Please pray for Steven, instead of being thankful that God provided one way to heaven, he stumbles over the fact that he cannot make his own way there.

“I am a good person, I am not a sinner!” she announced recently.  Maria has complained before that I preach too much about sin, especially since she claims to have no sin.  Although she has attended many services and has had many discussions with us, she continues to deny the biblical truth that all have sinned.  Please pray that she would humble herself and admit what God already knows, that all are sinners in need of the Savior.

We are seeing spiritual growth among the believers here in our small church, but we are heartbroken over Steven and Maria’s decisions to avoid the truth of God’s word.  Thank you so much for your faithful prayers for us, for our ministries and for these two people.  We are asking the Lord in His own way and time, to show this couple their sinful condition and bring them to repentance and salvation. 

Proclaiming the ONLY way,

Mark Hale

Sunday, April 6, 2014

March Prayer Letter

March 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

She is 92 years old and is the lone survivor of the Jewish ghetto massacre in Vilnius, Lithuania during World War 2.  As we walked around the old town, she showed us where she saw her family for the last time, where her friends were killed and the underground sewer she crawled through to escape the Nazis.  Tears flowed freely as we gave her a tract to witness to her of the Jewish Messiah.

She is 38 years old and has heard the Gospel many times.  She even faithfully attended our church services for almost a year when we ministered in Lithuania.  She listened quietly as the plan of salvation was once again presented to her, but sadly, she still has not been saved.

Victoria is 17 years old. She listened carefully during my sermon, but unlike the others, Victoria accepted Christ as her Savior!!  Praise God Almighty!!  Please pray for her. After discovering his daughter’s new birth, her lost father refused to allow her to attend services at the church there.  Pray for her father to be saved and for her continual spiritual growth in spite of family persecution.

Recently, we returned to Lithuania for a two week visit.  I taught in the Bible College in Vilnius, Lithuania and in Riga, Latvia and preached in churches in both cities.  It is always a joy to see people still serving the Lord after decades and it is an answer to prayer to get to witness yet again to those who are lost.   We came back to Portugal, weary, but determined to continue proclaiming Christ regardless of the response of the hearers.

Plowing and planting,

Mark Hale

February Prayer Letter

February 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

Sometimes witnessing is like baseball – you just have to keep swinging until you get a hit.  Recently at the grocery store as I waited in line, I noticed the two teenage girls behind me each only had a candy bar, so I allowed them to go ahead of me.  They thanked me but refused to accept the tracts I offered – a swing and a miss, strike one……

Then a very pregnant lady came up behind me, towing her wheeled basket behind her.  I allowed her to go in front of me and helped her unload her selections onto the conveyor belt.  She thanked me but also refused the tract I offered – a swing and a miss, strike two………

I went through the line and paid for my purchases, put them into a bag and prepared to leave.  The older man behind me placed his few food items on the conveyor and waited for the total.  “That will be eleven Euros and ninety one cents” the cashier announced.  The man fumbled in his pockets but only came up with ten Euros in small coins.  The impatient cashier informed the man that he had already rung up his purchases and that he had to pay the total, he couldn’t return anything now.  I reached into my pocket, pulled out two Euros and handed them to the cashier.  He quickly took them, rang up the receipt and tried to give the older man the nine cents change, but the old gentleman refused and gave the coins to me. 

With tears welling up in his eyes, one arm cradling his meager food supplies, he reached out a quivering hand and grasped my arm.  “Thank you, thank you very much” he said quietly.  “Why did you do that, sir?”  I looked into his watery eyes and simply said, “Because of Jesus Christ” and handed him a tract.  He smiled and accepted the pamphlet – a swing and a base hit! 

Going down swinging,

Mark Hale

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January Prayer Letter

January 2014

Dear Praying Friends,

Sandra’s eyes welled up with tears as she recounted the three years her young son spent in hospitals with a failing kidney.  She recalled the painful tests, the long months of fear, the invasive procedures and the choking reality that even though she was a nurse, she could not help her son. 

Recently my wife began an outreach ministry through our church.  She calls it “Sewing for Smiles”.  Michele sews together cloth animals and attaches a small label which identifies us and includes our church website.  Sandra is one of the nurses that distribute our stuffed animals to hospitalized children.  She shared that giving these small gifts has been an encouragement to the children, to their parents and even to the doctors and nurses who share them.  Our church website has experienced a significant increase in people visiting and checking out our church.  Please pray that this new ministry will bear eternal fruit.

If you would like to have a part with this new outreach and have remnants of cotton fabric of a half a yard or more that you could send to my wife, it would be a great help!  Since there are three hospitals within an hour of our church, this new ministry could give us contacts with many needy families and medical personnel that we might otherwise never know.  If you send some fabric to Michele, please write on the customs form the value of the fabric (less than $25 we won’t be taxed) and that it is for charity, not resale. 

Thank you for making these ministries possible! 

“Sewing” the seed,

Mark Hale

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

December Prayer Letter

December 2013

Dear Praying Friends,

He came three weeks in a row and listened very carefully to my sermons.  His face revealed nothing, as if it was carved from stone, yet his eyes were ablaze with emotions.  I could see the Word of God was having an effect, but could not tell what his reaction to the Holy Spirit ‘s working would be. 

We soon discovered what it was.  He bluntly stated that he would no longer attend services at our church because the pastor declared that there is only one way to a home in heaven – through Jesus Christ’s completed work on the cross.  He believes there are many ways of getting to heaven and flatly refused to attend any more services.  Yet last Sunday, there he was again, listening intently to my sermon from John 10 on “The Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep”.   Please pray for Stephen, that he would repent of his pride and come humbly before the Lord of the Universe to accept Christ’s salvation as the complete payment for his sin.

In October, I asked you to continue praying for our church and the ongoing Bible Institute ministry.  It is very apparent that you have been praying!!  We have had 15 first time visitors in our church services the past few months and we are thrilled that some continue to attend regularly.  The Bible Institute now has 16 registered students who meet with us on Thursdays and another 25-35 who tune in live via UStream.  These internet students are from other cities in Portugal as well as Brazil and some Portuguese speaking African countries.  The Bible Institute is now having an international impact!  Thank you so much for your continued and faithful prayers!  I truly believe we are seeing this growth as a direct result of your labors in prayer.

May God richly bless you during this Christmas season and may your New Year be filled with more opportunities to serve our Lord.

Mark Hale