Growing God’s church in Portugal is a slow process. Missionaries often do not feel welcome or even recognized by Portuguese believers, and many missionaries leave Portugal after years of serving there, discouraged by a seeming lack of meaningful results.
So it was a big day when Walter’s letter showed up in Amrei Wehmeyer’s mail.
Wehmeyer is a TEAM missionary who has worked in Portugal since 1991. She focuses on counseling now, but in her early years there she and a colleague ran kids clubs and other youth outreach programs. Walter had attended one as a tot 18 years ago. He had tried unsuccessfully to contact her for years, until one day Wehmeyer bumped into his sister on a long train ride and passed along her contact info.
The thank-you note was so loud you could almost hear it coming.
Walter had given his life to Jesus while in the kids’ club and then was an active participant in Wehmeyer teens’ club. “The first seeds of the gospel were sown into my life through you,” Walter wrote. “I don’t know if you still remember, but you gave me my first Bible. How much I loved my blue Bible!!"
After finishing primary school, Walter moved to Lisbon and lost touch with Wehmeyer. But he stayed active in his faith, joining a Baptist church while studying political science in college. It was during this time that Walter felt called to dedicate his life to serving the Lord. He left everything behind in February 2002 and moved to Argentina, where he completed four years of Bible school and two years of seminary.
Walter met his wife Danila in Argentina and they returned to Lisbon in 2008, where they serve together at their church and are preparing to go to Angola as long-term missionaries with Word of Life, a ministry that focuses on youth and college-age adults.
“In all these years, I often remember you and Andrea,” Walter wrote. “You were and still are part of all the Lord has been doing, is doing and is going to do in my life. That is why I want to say only this: THANK YOU! For leaving your country and coming to Portugal! THANK YOU for investing in my life and many others. THANK YOU for your help and your dedication. THANK YOU for your ministry!”
“It has been extremely overwhelming to me and my colleague Andrea to hear about how our program impacted Walter,” Wehmeyer said. “It’s wonderful to see how God used us in Walter’s life!”
-Written by Lisa H. Renninger
-Photo provided by the family