Beach missions in Portugal
Which is the most important ingredient of a beach mission — a week of uninterrupted sun and cloudless blue skies or an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with many families?
Obviously it is the latter, and in the UK this is sometimes done in cool, overcast conditions. However, when a week’s mission can happen without worrying about reorganising a programme due to rain, that is a real bonus, as a new initiative in Portugal has shown.
This year, United Beach Missions (UBM) was invited to run its first beach mission on the Algarve in Portugal.
UBM ran a pilot week on the Praia da Rocha (Portimão) in early July. Everything had come together from an initial enquiry in June 2011 to a local church, to us standing on the vast beach at the start of the week wondering exactly where to run our activities.
With some trepidation a small team of six, including three non-Portuguese speakers, launched out, not knowing how the week would unfold. By the end of the week, a good number of families had been reached with the gospel, many of whom came each day.
A typical programme that we might run in the UK was adapted to cope with the language barriers and the heat. We told Bible stories, explained the gospel message and had many individual conversations.
The programmes were run in English with Portuguese translation, with children and parents having great fun helping out. It was great to hear the children teach the English leader a Bible verse in Portuguese, while learning it themselves.
The opportunity for more beach missions on Portuguese beaches is enormous. What a privilege it was to be able to share Jesus with families in this needy country. We pray that the work will be established and expanded.