Alliance News Feed – The Gospel Overcomes a Family’s Division

by Fernando, a friend of Michael and Ruth Davis, Alliance international workers serving in Portugal

In 2006 when I met Serafim, an evangelical pastor who worked for the same labor company I did, he immediately told me about Jesus. My coworkers made fun of him—they didn’t want to listen to his testimony. I started feeling uncomfortable around him.

He Persisted

When our boss, Carlos*, assigned him to do routine maintenance repairs at an apartment building, Serafim never lost an opportunity to tell the residents about Jesus. The residents soon complained, telling Carlos they didn’t want Serafim doing their repairs anymore.

At that point, Carlos prohibited Serafim from talking about Jesus on the job. But he continued to witness to everyone. So Carlos had Serafim work with a jack hammer or run errands on a motorcycle to keep him from telling the people he met about Christ.

I began to admire Serafim’s determination, so I asked him if he was worried about getting fired.

“God wants me to share the gospel, and if it is God’s will for me to be fired, so be it,” Serafim replied.

I asked him more about how he came to know Jesus, and he encouraged me to read the Bible more and pray.

I started with the Book of John and then read the rest of the Gospels. The more I read, the more interested I became to know more about the Bible. Serafim gave me a Gideon’s International New Testament, and every day after work for two years he and I read the Bible together.

Broken Relationships

Finally, I decided to tell my wife, Luzía, about Serafim. She asked me, “How can you be so crazy as to abandon the icons and not believe in Mary?” She didn’t ever want to see Serafim in our house.

I was very sad. So the next day I called my sister and my brother-in-law to ask them to visit me.  When I returned home from work, they were there. They told me I was crazy and that I should stay away from churches that want to rob believers.

I wanted to explain my reasoning, but every time I said something, the conversation escalated. I stayed silent while they talked.

Luzía said if I continued, she would divorce me. At that moment I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “OK, I’ll give up everything.” But it was not what I wanted.

The next day when I saw Serafim and told him everything, he said, “Don’t worry. Just stand firm, keep reading the Bible, and pray even more so God will transform Luzía’s heart.”

Peace in Suffering

For seven years I went through many trials, and then in November 2016 I was hospitalized with a serious case of pneumonia—I had a bacterial abscess in my right lung. After a week it burst, and I was left with a three-inch hole. The doctors told me I couldn’t work anymore and that I would have to use oxygen 16 hours a day. It was as if my life had ended.

On the eighth day of my stay in the hospital, in the middle of the night, I picked up the New Testament Serafim had given me and started to read in John 11:4—This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.

The words touched me deeply, so I knelt by my hospital bed, confessed all my sins, surrendered my life to Jesus, and asked Him to be my Lord and Savior. My life changed. From that day forward, I gave all my fears and worries to the Lord.

“Maybe It Was the Antibiotics”

The following day, I asked Luzía if she would pray for me. But she just cried and said, “I don’t know how to pray. God won’t hear me.” I told her God hears all of us no matter what we’ve done—as long as we pray in faith.

Luzía and Cátia embrace as Fernando is baptized at Paredes Alliance Church.

A few days later, she told me she prayed. I was so happy because I could see God was working in her. On the same day, I asked our friend to pray for me. She told her church members to intercede as well.

The next day Luzía went to an evangelical church with our friends. She loved it. The following Sunday my daughter, Cátia, went with them. She liked it too. When I finally went home after 32 days in the hospital, we all started attending the church together.

After about two months I went to a pneumatologist for a follow-up. When the doctor saw I wasn’t using oxygen, he was surprised. I told him I hadn’t felt the need. He ordered an X-ray, which showed that the hole in my lung was gone.

Luzía asked him how that happened. The doctor laughed and said, “Maybe it was the antibiotics.” But we know it was a miracle from God.

We started attending a church plant, Paredes Alliance Church, as soon as it opened in July 2017. It was started by a team of Alliance international workers from the United States (Michael and Ruth Davis and Charlotte Hisle) and Brazil (Danilo and Elaine Lima).

Because of the discipleship we received from this congregation, Luzía, Cátia, and I were baptized there on the same day earlier this year. My family now attends church and Bible studies every week, and we hope to continue to do so. I don’t want to ever stray from Christ.

*Name changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – The Gospel Overcomes a Family’s Division

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