It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was at home when Augustinho, a young man from church, came to me for help. I figured he wanted advice or maybe financial assistance for some emergency, but it was not that at all. Augustinho came to ask me to help someone with a serious illness. The patient was a brother affectionately called Uncle Pascoal from the church in the Santa Luzia neighborhood. A fifty-year-old man suffering from a chronic leg wound for over 20 years due to a lack of resources and information, Pascoal had never received adequate treatment, which greatly aggravated his health condition.
That afternoon we went to Pascoal’s house to look into the situation and determine how we could help. We took diabetes tests, measured blood pressure and examined the wound. Afterward, we took him to a clinic that started treating him. Bete, a nursing technician, is currently accompanying Uncle Pascoal, and we hope that he will soon be in better condition.
What caught my attention in this story was Augustinho’s concern for Pascoal. They are not related. They are not even neighbors. Even so, Augustinho understood and practiced “love your neighbor as yourself.” Also impressive was that when Augustinho sought me out for help, he told me that Uncle Pascoal got to know the church a short time ago during a campaign carried out by Brazilian missionaries. We usually conduct medical appointments in the morning and evangelism in the evening. Well, Pascoal went to the doctor’s appointment in the morning, returned at night for the Bible conference, and has not stopped attending the church since.
This whole episode made me think about two things. First, the church (me) exists to support and care for those who have the greatest needs. A gospel concerned only with proselytizing will never be enough. We must first meet the needs of people and then call them to the journey. Furthermore, they must not be abandoned within the church after accepting the call but must be continually guided and assisted. It seems that Augustinho understood this well. Second, the missionary’s role is not only to present the message outside the ark but also to care for, teach and support those already inside the ark.
Our prayer here in Guinea-Bissau is twofold: that God will raise more people like Augustinho and more missionaries to plant the seeds of the gospel. We pray for the fulfillment of Matthew 11:5 in our days, where Jesus exclaims that the blind will see, the lame will walk, the lepers will be healed, the deaf will hear, the dead will be raised, and the poor will receive the gospel.
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