Trusting God in Portugal
I went to Portugal for the first time in the summer of 2018, when I was studying my undergraduate degree at Belfast Bible College. I am now hoping to spend the next 12-18 months in Vila Real exploring the possibility of long term missionary service.
I am currently serving as a short term mission candidate with ECM in Portugal. I am in a city called Vila Real which is in the north of Portugal and I serve with the local Baptist church.
My experience so far
I arrived in Portugal in July 2021, so I have been here for almost five months. I have very much enjoyed my time. Because I have been coming here since 2018 it was a lot easier for me to settle in as I was already familiar with the city, the church, and the people. The biggest difficulty I faced (and to a large degree am still facing) was the language barrier. When I arrived in July I had very little Portuguese which made it difficult to establish relationships with Portuguese speakers. I began taking lessons with a tutor in the church in September and they have been a great benefit. I am now at the point where I can hold a conversation in Portuguese and establish relationships with native speakers. I still have a lot to learn but I am grateful to the Lord for helping me to his point.
What God has been teaching me
Through my time in Portugal the Lord has been teaching me the importance of patience. I will need to be patient until I gain fluency in Portuguese. I will need to be patient while I wait for some of our ministries in Vila Real and other places to develop. Even before I came to Portugal this year, I needed to be patient while I waited to things to return to normal during the Covid pandemic. I am not a naturally patient person, so I am grateful that through this experience the Lord has been teaching to wait upon Him and trust in His timing.
Day to day activity
I have two Portuguese lessons every week usually on a Wednesday morning and a Friday afternoon. When I don’t have a class I will spend time revising the material that I have been learning. Every Sunday I go to churches, one in a village called Leomil and the other in Vila Real. Some weeks I will preach so I will spend time during the week preparing a sermon. Other weeks I will simply attend to churches to spend time with the believers there and practice my language (all of the services are in Portuguese). Every Thursday I go to a city called Chaves where there is a new church plant and I do much the same thing.
I am also involved with a ministry to children and teenagers in an orphanage in Porto.
This compares well with what I expected my ministry in Vila Real would look like, because of the times I have already been here. I also knew that I would need to invest a lot of time in language learning. This is something that I am enjoying a lot, and I trust that as I gain more proficiency in Portuguese I will be able to serve in new and more effective ways.
Shane McGloin, Northern Irish STMer in Portugal