Saturday, November 18, 2017

October Prayer Letter

October 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

While studying the Word of God with her husband, she came to the realization that her “baptism” in a church that actively teaches and practices false doctrine was not biblical baptism.  She immediately told her husband that she wanted to follow Christ’s example and be baptized as the Scriptures command.

The day was sunny, warm and the breezes were soft.  It was a perfect day for a baptism, we thought, until we arrived at the beach.  (We baptize in the sea as a testimony to our city and all the folks visiting here.)  Although the weather was good, the tide was high and there were six foot waves crashing onto the shore.  “Oh boy” I thought, “this is going to be interesting!”

We sang a couple of hymns and then I brought a short message on “What baptism is and what baptism is not” while some of our folks passed out tracts to the people walking by. Then it was time for us to wade out into waist deep water.  We were both immersed twice by the huge waves before we ever reached the desired depth.  I had just raised my arm and began reciting Matthew 28:19 when I saw her wince.  I braced as yet another wave crashed over us.

After we got our footing back, we decided quickly to baptize her in between the six foot waves.  We obeyed the Lord’s command and followed His perfect example and then safely made it back to shore.  We had a wonderful service later at church and dinner on the grounds after the service as we welcomed this godly lady and her young preacher husband into the membership of our church.

Thanking God for obedient Christians,

Mark Hale

Monday, November 13, 2017

September Prayer Letter

September 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

I remember the first time I held him. 19 years ago, a blizzard howled in the darkness in Lithuania, but a miracle was happening inside. The doctor clamped and cut his umbilical cord, he was cleaned and swaddled and handed to me. His dark brown eyes squinting in the bright lights of the delivery room, inquisitively looking up at me, his tiny hand reached up to touch my face. 

It was love at first sight!

I remember the last time I held him.  The hot sun blazed down upon us as we said our goodbyes.  The umbilical cord was being cut and our miracle was leaving the nest.  His dark brown eyes squinted down at me in the bright sunlight and his big hand reached down to wipe the tears flowing down my face. He was leaving home to follow the call of God and begin his studies at Bible college.

It was love at last sight!

Please pray for our son, Joshua, as he obeys the call of his Creator and Savior to be a pastor in the US.  Please pray for us as we continue to serve the Lord in Portugal, but now without a valued member of our team.  We are thankful for the 19 years God has given us and are thankful that Joshua has obeyed the will of the Lord.  None of us like this separation, but each one of us knows, this is exactly what God wants, so we obey, knowing God’s will is ALWAYS best!  Back in 1985, as I left home for the mission field for the first time, my father gave me godly advice that I passed on to my son, “In spite of the years of separation on earth, we have all eternity together in heaven to be glad we did this God’s way.”

Thankful that God sent His Son,

Mark Hale

August Prayer Letter

August 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

Sometimes, a church announces they are wanting to do a “missions trip” and we always wonder how it is going to turn out.  Some of these trips end up being one or two days of ministry and the rest sight seeing with the missionary as translator.  Other times, a church comes with a heart to serve and their folks come to evangelize the lost and encourage the saved.

Each summer, we hold youth camps in cooperation with other independent Baptist churches from all over Portugal.  It is a week filled with much labor, sweat and tears, but we do it knowing that for many of the youth, this will be the only opportunity they have to hear the gospel of Christ since their Catholic parents will allow them to come to our camp, but never to church services.

This summer, Overland Park Baptist Church sent a group to help us with our youth camp. In 32 years as missionaries, I have rarely seen a more prepared group than this one.  The adults as well as the teens served with enthusiasm and without complaint.  Their sacrifice made it possible for the missionaries to spend more time with the campers.  As a result, 9 precious young people were saved during camp and the grandmother of one of the teens who visited the last night of camp and heard the gospel was saved the following Sunday in church in Porto Alegre.  PRAISE GOD!!!

Thankful for co-laborers,

Mark Hale

Thursday, August 17, 2017

July Prayer Letter

July 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

Last year, the Lord led us to share with you a great need that we could not supply ourselves.  Now, just 10 short months later, because God’s people sacrificed and gave in miraculous ways, we were able to purchase an excellent, used, 7 passenger van for our growing ministry needs!!  We want to thank each one of you who gave to meet this need and praise the Lord who led you to give!  It is a great encouragement and blessing to have this van to replace our 19-year-old Volkswagen that was costing more to repair than it was worth.  Lord willing, we will use this van for the rest of our lives!! May God richly bless those who made this possible!!

Humbled and thankful to you and to our Lord,

Mark Hale

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

June Prayer Letter

June 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

Thirty years ago, we stood before our families and assembled friends and made our vows before the Lord.  It was a simple wedding in a small country church, but next to the day of my salvation, it was the richest and most blessed day of my life.

For the past 30 years, I have had the privilege of having Michele by my side through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through times of blessings and times of trials.  We have been blessed with our son, Joshua, whom God has called to preach and we have lost our daughter whom we buried in the soil of Lithuania.  We have won many to the Lord and seen many others reject Him.  We have trained hundreds and seen some remain faithful while others have fallen by the way side.

Whether it has been a time of peace or storm, abundance or want, rest or trials, the past 30 years have been blessed because the Lord has been with us every single step of the way.  No matter what the coming years bring, we both know that Christ will always be faithful, always keep His word and always do what is best for us and what will bring Him the honor He so richly deserves. 

As we celebrate 30 years of marriage, please join us in celebrating the Lord Jesus Christ who is the One who gives all light, all joy, all peace and all blessings.

Thankful for these 30 years,

Mark Hale

May Prayer Letter

May 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

She was having a very difficult time letting go of her religious past.  Her parents had told her for years that she was going to heaven as a result of being sprinkled as an infant; but why then, was she so filled with doubt?  Why was she so afraid of dying?  If what her parents and their church said were true, why did she feel so empty and depressed?

That is when God brought a Christian friend into her life.  She saw the real peace that he had in Christ and knew that was exactly what she so desperately wanted!  He kept inviting her to church, but she always found an excuse.  That is, until that Sunday when she finally decided to attend one of our church services.

She was cool when I introduced myself and sang the hymns with about as much enthusiasm as a child waiting to see the dentist about a cavity.  The message I preached compared the Passover lamb in Exodus with Christ, the Lamb of God.  She listened with undivided attention as I explained from the Scriptures how every person could be saved.  After the service, I had the privilege of leading this precious lady to Christ!  As she finished the sinner’s prayer and looked up, for the first time in almost 40 years, she had peace.  What had eluded her for so many years in a religious ritual was now hers for all eternity because of Christ!!

Please pray for Natalie as she begins her new life in Christ.

Reaping the harvest, one eternal soul at a time,

Mark Hale

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