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

September Prayer Letter

September 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

We knew this day was coming for at least a couple of years, but the realization hit me like a punch in the stomach.  I had been in the waiting room for over two hours when he entered, clipboard in hand.  His expression told me the news was grim.  He looked at me and plainly stated, “We are not going to be able to save her, I am sorry.”

For almost 30 years, after paying tithes and giving to missions, Michele and I have tried to save 10% of our monthly support for emergencies.  This practice has served us well.  I have only had to write a prayer letter requesting financial help four times in over three decades as missionaries, this will be the fifth.

Our 18 year old VW needs yet more repairs, but the cost is more than our old faithful car is now worth.  European car manufacturers cease making parts for their cars after 10 years.  The older a car becomes, finding parts becomes more and more difficult and expensive.  Our ministries have grown to the point where we now need a van.  We had to rent one this summer to take the nine people from Lagos to camp.  A good, used van will cost between $18,000 and $20,000.  This is a huge amount of money, yet we know that our Father is in control.  We ask you to pray about having a part in purchasing a vehicle to replace our dying car.  She has served us well, with over 400,000 km on her, but her time has come.  God knew this was going to happen and is in control, so we ask you to seek His will in helping to meet this important need.

Trusting in Him to supply what we cannot,

Mark Hale

Sunday, August 7, 2016

July/August Prayer Letter

July/August 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

We thought we had reached our maximum last year with over 50 campers, but this year the Lord showed us that we could handle even more.  This summer we had 61 campers!!  It was a week filled with labor, heat, difficulties and victories.  Satan tried to hinder this ministry; missionaries suffered serious car problems coming to camp, some campers had to be taken home the first day of camp for smoking, the heat was intense with very little in the way of breezes to cool off the tents and all the sweating bodies in them.  Yet God gave great victories in spite of all the difficulties we encountered.  13 precious souls came to Christ, including two from our church in Lagos!!!

We returned from camp physically exhausted, yet spiritually uplifted.  We had one week to prepare for our annual Vacation Bible School in Lagos.  This time we had fewer children than last year, but that allowed us to spend even more time with each child.  The gospel was given clearly and plainly each day and good seed was planted in the hearts of the children who attended.  Half of the children who came are not saved and come from lost homes.  We have reached entire families through our Vacation Bible Schools and are praying for God to work again through this ministry to reach these precious lives with His gospel.

Thank you for making it possible for us to labor here on your behalf for the glory of our Lord!!  We count it our honor to be your representatives here in southern Portugal.

Serving with you for Him,

Mark Hale

 Camp photos:

VBS photos:

May Prayer Letter

May 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

The deep chest pain was a harbinger of what was coming.  She fearfully posted on Facebook that Tuesday morning, “I need a miracle!”  Later that day, the heart attack hit with such pain that she collapsed, unable to move.  Her husband called for an ambulance and held her while they waited for help to arrive.

Last year, this couple began attending services at our church in Lagos.  He was thrilled with our verse by verse studies of God’s word, she was less than enthusiastic.  He was growing spiritually and reaching others, while his wife sat impatiently through the services, fidgeting with her phone and looking out the window in the auditorium.  Eventually, she quit coming and then began inventing things for them both to do during service times. Two months ago, he stopped attending church.  Then we got the news. 

At her funeral, he wept as I hugged him.  He was haunted by the nightmare of watching his 46 year old wife slip out into eternity in his arms.  He looked at us, with tears welling up in his eyes and said, “She died with fear in her eyes.” He paused to gain control of his voice and then continued. “Christians don’t die with fear, do they?”  What is so heartbreaking about these kinds of funerals is that we don’t know if she is with the Lord. 

In the past month, we have lost four people whom we have loved and prayed for.  Two are with the Lord, two are not.  This is why you keep us here:  to stand between the living and the dead and proclaim Christ. 

Thankful for the saved, grieving for the lost,

Mark Hale

March/April Prayer Letter

March/April 2016 

Dear Praying Friends,

It was shaping up to be one of “those” days.  Right from the start, everything seemed to fall apart around me.  Car problems, road construction delays, bureaucratic run arounds and not enough time to get it all done.  I had to be up at the church two hours early for the piano tuner to get his job finished before Bible Institute classes began.  He assured me it would take no longer than an hour…I should have known better…

Two hours later, he still had the piano in pieces and was not even close to being done.  Students had begun arriving and I knew this day was going to end the way it had unfolded– as a disaster.  He piled all the pieces together and told me he would return the next day to finish the job.  As I laid the last pieces carefully down and turned around to face the class, I was pleasantly surprised.

Three new students were there for the Bible Institute and we enjoyed one of the best classes we have ever had.  With nine students present and another 61 tuning in live via UStream, we had a total of 70 students from Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau.  We have students from all Portuguese speaking countries except for Goa, India and Macao, China.  The Bible Institute has grown and is now reaching into five countries.  We are humbled and thrilled to see what God is doing to reach this generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ!!  Thank you for making this possible!!!

Reflecting His light to the world,

Mark Hale

February Prayer Letter

February 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

She came in the back of the auditorium and sat in the chair next to the door.  Her drug addicted son came in a few minutes later and sat uneasily beside her in the last row.  It was clear they were uncomfortable and ready for a quick escape.  The adult son claims to be a “Christian” but believes he must self reform in order to earn salvation.  He and his mother have had years of conflict over his drug addiction.  He listened politely as I preached, but his mother intently hung on every word. 

Normally,  I pastor two congregations - our Portuguese speaking church in Lagos and an English speaking congregation in a city an hour and a half away.  But for the past six weeks, I had been pastoring a third congregation (Portuguese) while the pastor was out of the country. We were weary from the extra hours of travel, the added services, additional time and effort, but God had something special for us.

After the service, the back row lady asked to speak with me.  She wanted me to pray for her and her son to have peace.  When I explained that without Christ no one could ever have real peace, she asked, “Then how do I have Christ in my life?”  I opened the Bible and showed her God’s simple plan of salvation.  With tears in her eyes, she lifted her eyes toward heaven and prayed, “God, I don’t know how to pray, but I sure need you in my life!  I am a sinner and realize I cannot go to heaven this way.  So, please forgive my sin and save me….amen.”   When she lowered her eyes, she was a new woman.  For the first time in her life, she had true forgiveness and real peace.  This is why you have sacrificed to keep us here, for moments just like this!  Thank you for your faithfulness in keeping us here.  This is fruit to your account!

Bringing the sheep to the Shepherd,

Mark Hale

Saturday, February 6, 2016

January Prayer Letter

January 2016

Dear Praying Friends,

Recently our son, Joshua wrote a text to his friends about the New Year.  I was so blessed that I wanted to share his words with you:

“May we live each day for the Lord, live each day as our last, not in the sense of doing crazy stuff because it’s on our “bucket list” but in the sense of “How can I do more for Christ today?”  Let us always remember as we read our Bibles, as we witness, or even as we struggle with sins or trials, that no matter what, God is in control.  He is our Lord; we owe our lives to Him.  So, may we do more for Christ this year, not to simply make and break New Year’s resolutions, but to live each day with a different type of  resolution: to make Jesus the center of our joy, because there is no more happier place or more peaceful place than exactly where God wants us to be.  Never forget why God has us here, not to live for ourselves, or follow our hearts or our will, but to meditate on His perfect Word and follow His perfect will day by day.  When we do that, we will show Christ clearly to others.  People see more than we tend to think, the question is, what do people see in us?  Do they see us, or do they see Christ?  I hope and pray that this year, more than ever, I will show more of Christ and less of Joshua Hale.  We must die daily to ourselves and let Christ live through and control our lives as Paul the Apostle said.  May God bless you and may Jesus always be the center of our lives, because when He is the center of our lives, He will be the center of our joy.”

He turns 18 next month and, Lord willing, will graduate from high school in May.  Our little boy has grown into a godly young man. We are so thankful to every one of you who have faithfully prayed for him down through the years and ask that you continue to pray for him as he seeks God’s will for his life.  Most of all, we are thankful to the Lord for the 18 wonderful years we have enjoyed with our son.  May God use Joshua in His service for His glory and honor!

Thanking God for Joshua,

Mark Hale

Friday, January 15, 2016

December Prayer Letter

Dear Praying Friends,

We held our Sunday Christmas service on the 20th and were blessed by one of the largest attendances we have ever had.  On top of that blessing, we had two first time visitors: 

M. is a very religious woman who has been attending our free English classes each week.  Although she has been invited to services numerous times, this was the first time she ever came.  She listened to the message and stayed for the time of fellowship after the services. Please pray for her.

N. is the lost husband of one of our very faithful ladies.  He suffers from a heart condition that could kill him at any time, yet he rejects the existence of Christ and denies the need to repent of one’s sins and be saved.  He is always friendly when we talk or visit but remains aloof and distant.  He listened to the message and also stayed for the fellowship time after the services. Please pray for him.

No matter where we are in the world, we are always blessed to thank God for His Son, Jesus Christ, and the greatest gift mankind has ever been privileged to receive – eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We also thank the Lord for every one of you who make it possible for us to minister here on your behalf.  May God richly bless you dear friends!

Sharing His gift,

Mark Hale