Elisa Rodrigues and her husband José have been missionaries in Portugal for the European Mission Fellowship for over 34 years. They live in Alto do Moinho, six miles south of Lisbon, where José pastors an evangelical church and oversees a nearby church plant.
The couple spent some time in England in the 1980s, based at Waterford House Evangelical Free Church, Rochester, while José studied with EMF.
In 1986 José felt called to minister back in his home country. A small church was planted in Alto do Moinho, initially involving just three couples. Over the years the work was blessed and now sees some 70 regular attendees at Sunday morning services.
As well as supporting her husband, Elisa took an active role in ministry to children and to the women of the church. However, in 2017 Elisa received life-changing news as she was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. After surgery and 39 rounds of chemotherapy treatment, Elisa reached a point at the end of 2020 where care had to become palliative only.
She recently took some time to be interviewed by EMF missionary Vivienne Birch about her current circumstances.
From the outset she affirmed her conviction that God was in control of all things: ‘He has a plan and a purpose for me and for the life of my family and my church.’
Asked about how she has remained strong amid a three-year battle with cancer, Elisa smiled and immediately quoted from the Bible: ‘We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
Following the rounds of hospital treatment, Elisa has now returned home. She acknowledged that she may be ‘promoted to glory’ at any time now. It was apparent that this awareness has given her renewed gratitude for what she has: ‘I walk into each day praising God for the gift of life, but my eyes are fixed on eternity.’