Joe and Rachel Clarke moved to Coimbra, Portugal in 2015 to work amongst students with the GBU (Grupo Bíblico Universitário - the Portuguese Christian student movement affiliated to IFES). They are seeking to evangelise and disciple university students and equip them for future Christian ministry. Rachel is a full time mum and is helping their children to adapt to a new culture and supporting Joe in his ministry with students.
Portugal has a population of almost 11 million people, yet less than 100,000 attend an evangelical church. Within Portuguese Universities there are few professing believers and the Christian student movement is small. There is a great need to develop the GBU’s work in order to disciple and equip Christian university students so that they can reach out to their fellow students with the gospel.
Joe and Rachel have four children: Beth, Hannah, Joshua and Timothy.
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‘After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.’’ Revelation 4:1-2
So much has changed over the past few months, hasn’t it? The control we thought we had over our lives, the security we enjoyed in our home and with our family, the career progression we had mapped out in our minds, the health we had simply taken for granted, the community we enjoyed being part of, and the financial stability we had grown accustomed to – what a difference just a few months makes. The smell of fear pervades the air, the sense of helplessness and a feeling of impotence. We miss seeing people – real people – face to face. We miss shaking their hands, giving them a hug and catching up over a coffee. We miss walking around a shop without a mask, sharing a meal with some friends and singing together in church. Yes, so much has changed. One American girl summed up the feelings of many when she said, 'The world has been brought to its knees by a tiny microorganism. This pandemic has robbed me of my sense of control.’
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