I feel that the Lord brought us to a season of confrontation. Since I assumed leadership of the church, I have tried to positively promote sound doctrine hoping that with time, truth and love, people would come to unity. By expounding the Gospel of Mark we finally came to a time of confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, which are similar to the false prophets of our days. And by the providence of God, the time to address those issues was a moment when I discovered and was surprised about how a few people that have been with us for a long time are following some false doctrines. Through preaching and personal meetings some of those few people decided to leave and some of them are honestly struggling to digest and understand how it could be that so much of what they had experienced as “the Christian life” is wrong. I came to realize the importance of confronting these things personally to really discover how deep the roots of false teachings are in people’s hearts, as was “the yeast of the Pharisees” even in the disciples’ lives. If we don’t take out the thorns, the gospel won’t grow!
It has been a tough moment emotionally and physically. I really felt some of the deep compassionate pain that Jesus felt even for those who preferred to keep themselves blinded to the truth, many times finding myself sighing for them. But the Lord has been giving me encouragement through prayer, His word and even through the brothers and sisters of our church community. It was interesting that three of them shared with me the same text the Lord was using to bring me encouragement (Jeremiah 1). And the feedback of the majority is really positive about the preaching. I really felt strong support from some godly people showing maturity and appreciation, backing me up and encouraging their pastor to preach the exhortative truth.
Also, in this period we had two very refreshing moments. First we participated in a conference in Lisbon promoted by Fiel/9Marks. This time I could bring family with me, and my wife was very blessed with the teachings. We heard preaching from godly men like Joel Beeke, Mike McKinley and Augustus Nicodemus.
We were also very glad to receive the helping visit of the brothers Sorin Prodan and Peter Schild that came to encourage, counsel and bless our family and community. They brought us very wise thoughts about the future of our church. Our church structure was also strengthened, as we got together with some more mature Christians willing to take responsibilities in ministries of prayer, fellowship and evangelism. They will help to get the church together on those priorities.
A highlight of these past months is surely the course we concluded on complementarianism. We did a 6-week Bible Study reflecting on biblical manhood and womanhood. It was glorious to see how people from this culture that started the course with so much reluctance and preconceptions – not without a lot of polemical debate, interest and struggles – would end up literally praising the Lord and praying for his will for men and women in the home, church and culture. We often ended the studies later than planned. And the closing lesson was just beautiful with the testimonies of those who participated.