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In search of the Portugese

Who are you?

Eldos is the veteran of the team. He came from Malaysia to the UK 18 years ago to pioneer churches. Being a student himself, the first church he planted was among international students in Hatfield, north of London. Nowadays he and Esther, his wife, are busy with two boys running around. He has a Ph.D. in biomechanical engineering but now he works full time as an asset manager in a utility company.

Hanson is originally from Indonesia. He came to UK a couple of months after getting baptized. Eldos started to mentor him right away. His wife Sabina and he met mainly because he wanted to start a church in Newcastle and she had just done the same in Sunderland. Hansen has just finished his Ph.D. in computer science, and Sabina is working as a pharmacist.

Kelwin was one of the first guys whom Hanson baptized in Newcastle. He is the Portuguese on the team. Right now he works in the tourism industry. He´s a bit scared about what’s coming!

One friend, Ken Joo, moved to the UK from Germany last year. He is quite experienced in mentoring people over a distance.

We are currently located all over the UK: Eldos in Hatfield, Hansen in Newcastle, Kelwin in Edinburgh, and Ken Joo in Hexham.

What do you want to see?

Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

That’s our creed.

Kelwin told us that most of the Portuguese he grew up with were sort of religious but, like him, they didn´t really know Jesus. Kelwin´s life was turned upside down when he understood who Jesus was, what he had done, and what he stands for. 
We want to see the same thing happen with Portuguese people everywhere. We want them to break free from religion; to get to know Jesus in a way that they want to be that seed that falls into the ground, dies, and bears much fruit. Or as Kelwin would put it - he wants the Portuguese people to enjoy being born again Christians.

How did you get this Idea?

When discipleship and the Great Commission come together, something like us going to Portugal is just the logical next step.

Eldos has not yet taken his disciples into a country where people speak a different language. Hanson wants to learn how to help someone mentor people over distance. Kelwin had his reasons why he didn´t want to go back to Portugal to share Jesus, until Eldos challenged him.

So as we looked at the areas we needed to grow in and the needs in Portugal, it seemed like a good fit - and God didn’t say no.

What challenges do you expect?

Kelwin told us that there definitely will be a language barrier. But with hin around that should be manageable.
According to him, the friendliness of the people might be the bigger problem. People don’t mind prayer or talking about God: that’s culturally acceptable. But it doesn’t mean that there is a deeper interest in Christ.
As an international team, it would be easiest for us to get to know international students or ex-pats. But even if it might be much harder, we have decided to focus on Portuguese people instead.

What are you going to do?

We have already prayed.
Our first trip to Lisbon was planned from March 20 to 22. That didn’t happen.
We are observing carefully when to go next because Kelwin’s relatives are expecting us. When we get there, we will visit one or two of the many universities.
Besides that, Ken Joo met a lady from Lisbon at a conference in Kuching, Malaysia, and he has been in touch with her. 
How to follow up on every possible connection is something we will have to learn.

published in June 2020