Monday, September 24
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal (IEPP) is small, with only 3,000 members or friends and perhaps 22 ordained pastors in 31 congregations. It struggles to operate in a very difficult environment. Of Portugal's population of 10 million people, 9,990,000 are Roman Catholic and have been taught a superstitious version of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church here has long had overwhelming power, privilege, and wealth. In such an environment, it is difficult to be a Protestant, and it is a testimony to both God's faithfulness and the resilience of Portuguese Presbyterians that the IEPP even exists.
The IEPP takes Christian education seriously and expects its members to understand the faith and have a personal relationship with God. Currently 39 lay people are enrolled in a distance-learning course on how to share the good news. I am one of the tutors in this course.
People in the three congregations that my wife, Keiko, and I serve are all middle-aged or older, but in the rest of the IEPP, youth activities are strong. A youth contingent spent Holy Week and Easter at Taize in 2010 and came back full of the Holy Spirit and eager to serve. In fact, the IEPP's greatest strength may be its youth and its younger pastors. A challenge for the IEPP is how to reach Portuguese young adults who, having gone to university and seen the modern world, can no longer share their parents' superstitions. Given the obstacles, reaching them is no easy matter, but IEPP offers young adults an alternative.
- Rev. Dr. Robert A. Butterfield, PC(USA) mission co-worker, Portugal
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal (IEPP): Keiko Butterfield, team ministry, and Rev. Dr. Robert Butterfield, evangelist/community organizer
IEPP: Rev. Jose Salvador, president, Mr. Fernando Matos, vice-president, Dr. David Valente, general secretary, Mr. Victor Baptisto, treasurer
Presbytery Partnership: Presbytery of Northern Waters with the IEPP
Let us pray
Eternal God, grant the IEPP sufficient confidence in itself, in your Word, and in that inner voice that confirms the truth of your Word, to overcome fears and to lead the people of Portugal through the narrow gate. Amen.