Missionaries leave legacy, look to future

By January 16, 2008

Portugal (MNN) –When Bill and Sharon Wooten, missionaries with Greater Europe Mission, went to Portugal many years ago, the population of the people considered evangelical Christian was .6 per-cent. Today, that number is up to one percent. 

While there is growth in the church, there is also increasing secularism in the country, Sharon Wooten said. "I think the general consensus is that their own church is kind of outdated and that God is irrelevant to their lives," she said.

The Wootens planted three church during their time in northern Portugal. Then evangelicals
were considered a cult in Portugal. "People seemed more interested in spiritual things and talking about God in those days," Sharon said. The church they first
planted now has about 25 adults. There are two or three other churches in that area with about the same size congregations in a city of 50,000.

Sharon said because of the general attitude of the population toward the church, "If they are interested, sometimes they're just afraid to come into an evangelical church." 

The Wootens began work with the Roman Catholic church during their time in Portugal. They are now looking forward to retirement, but Bill said despite the secularism, they saw
hope in their work with the local Roman Catholic church. "We're finding that there a lot of God-seekers in the church just as there are people outside of the church, and the Lord has opened doors for us to work together in many ways. I praise the Lord for that, and I think that is really the wave of the future," he said.

"It doesn't mean we're compromising doctrines or anything like that. It means simply we are trying to reach out in ways open to us right now because God is always working, and we
need to have our eyes open to what He's doing," Bill added.

Bill said the pastors and Christians in Portugal need prayer since there is no built-in support
system as there are in other parts of the world. They also need financial support since many pastors "struggle to be in full-time ministry" since the small churches cannot
fully support them. 

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