Grieving During the Holidays & Short-Term Missions in Portugal
John McCallum knows the pain of struggling with grief and loss during the holiday season. But rather than sinking in sorrow, he’s using it to serve others. Europe is considered the least reached continent in the world with less than 1% evangelical Christians. Together, a praying church back in Fort Worth, their short-term missions team, IMB missionaries and local believers addressed a very real problem in Portugal — lostness.
Holidays offer special opportunities for love and care
Thanksgiving feasts provide natural path to gospel
John McCallum knows the pain of struggling with grief and loss during the holiday season. But rather than sinking in sorrow, he’s using it to serve others.
McCallum, senior pastor of First Baptist Hot Springs, makes a point to write a personal letter to everyone in his church just before the holiday season who has endured the loss of a family member since the last season.
He says the idea came to him while teaching a class on grief a few weeks before the holiday season.
McCallum’s father died the day after Christmas in 1987 and his mother passed on Christmas Eve 2008.
“I have learned that a note has a lasting impact. People keep it handy and look back at it. Some put it in their Bible for a season. The note lasts longer than a brief phone call,” said McCallum.
“Doing this also confirms what I’ve believed throughout my ministry, that when the pastor reaches out in shepherding love to grieving people, they don’t just feel the pastor’s touch; they feel Jesus’ touch.”
Good News for Today is sponsored by The Voice of the Martyrs
Good News for Today is made possible through our friends at The Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world. Founded in 1967 by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM is dedicated to inspiring believers to deepen their commitment to Christ and to fulfill His Great Commission — no matter the cost. Find out more and sign up for their free monthly magazine at vom.org/goodnews.
Everyone excitedly crowded around the Thanksgiving feast. The tables overflowed with sweet potato casseroles, cranberry sauce, green bean casseroles, pumpkin and pecan pies. The turkey was roasted to a perfect, mouthwatering golden hue. Juice rolled down the sides of the meat dish as someone carved.
It was picture perfect. Phones immediately came out of pockets to document this not-so-traditional feast in Lisbon, Portugal. For most, it was their first time experiencing an American Thanksgiving outside of watching a movie. It was also the first time for some to hear what the hosts of the feast were most thankful for — Jesus’ saving grace.
A volunteer mission team from Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, prepared 13 Thanksgiving meals in one week to help IMB missionaries Jonathan and Bethany Sharp and local Portuguese believers gain gospel access within their community. Cans of pumpkin and cranberry sauce stuffed in the Texans’ luggage turned into opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ and be invited back.
“People in Portugal are very interested in anything that is culturally American,” Jonathan said. “An event like this becomes a cultural exchange. We share food and praise music, and they share back.”
The Sharps hosted their first Thanksgiving in Portugal nine years ago when they were in language school. They used it to meet their neighbors and practice Portuguese. With each passing year, the event grew larger with teams from churches in the U.S. coming to help. It became a way to share the gospel in a non-threatening way and mentor local believers.
This year, the team from Travis Avenue made it possible to take the festivities outside of their home and church, Igreja Baptista Vida Nova. They partnered with small groups and four church plants to host the cultural exchange in different locations.
Europe is considered the least reached continent in the world with less than 1% evangelical Christians. Together, a praying church back in Fort Worth, their short-term missions team, IMB missionaries and local believers addressed a very real problem in Portugal — lostness.
58 baptisms at TN jail by neighboring churches’ MedAdvance in 2023; More lives to be changed. 10 reasons for disaster relief training.
When more than 50 people were baptized at the Sumner County, Tennessee Jail in early May, it was the culmination of many years of ministry from two neighboring churches; For those with a passion for healthcare and a calling to missions, the International Mission Board has avenues of service ready to fill; Unfortunately, natural disasters are inevitable in this world. Coy Webb of Send Relief encourages believers to get trained in responding to disaster relief
Bilingual Texas church plant bridges generations; Christians and predatory payday lending; Demonstrating faith in Jesus.
As the Hispanic population in the U.S. grows, new challenges are emerging Christians should care about predatory lending because its practices exploit and take advantage of our neighbors, whom we’ve been commanded to love; Jesus revealed His identity as Messiah and Lord through His words and His actions.
90,000 U.S. testimonies of answered prayer sought for England monument; 6 Ways Pastors Become Men of Prayer
Everyone finds great joy when God answers their prayer. Richard Gamble’s is working hard to build what he calls the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer, an interactive, 160-foot monument of 1 million white bricks built into an infinity loop on a plot of high-profile land in Birmingham, England; In a piece in the Baptist Press Toolbox, Kie Bowman encourages believers to pray and offers some tips to pastors and believers on how to create culture of prayer in the local church.