Alone But Not Alone

By Ruth Davis, Alliance international worker teaching in Portugal

My sweet eighth-grader, Marina*, ducked into the classroom to ask if her friend who had a free period could come to our religion class. Visitors are always welcome, but that day I gulped when I said “yes.”

students decorating Christmas cookies
Three of Ruth's former religion class students decorate Christmas cookies.
The chapter I had prepared from the manual Decisions was entitled “Is Sex Synonymous with Dating?” It wasn’t a lesson I wanted to do with someone I’d never met before. However, despite any discomfort we all may have felt, that class was the beginning of something special.

Religious Freedom

We have an unusual, continuing phenomenon in Portugal. Public schools in this European country still offer religion classes, probably due to a past dictatorship that mandated these courses.

For the last 25 years, the Education Department has allowed evangelicals to offer these elective classes as well. During the 2014–2015 school year, 228 schools, 138 teachers, and 1,700 students participated in evangelical classes.

In the northern part of the country, where evangelical churches are few, these elective classes may have only one or two students, as has been my case in Sousa Valley. Our town has no evangelical church, and as far as we know, Marina is the only evangelical Christian in her middle school.

She is now in ninth grade, and over the past three years, we have covered many subjects, from friendship to decision making to world religions. We’ve taken a field trip to a Jewish synagogue. We’ve prayed about an opportunity for her to study piano and to see her paternal family. God has answered these prayers in marvelous ways.

A Life Transformed

a public school in Portugal
A public school in Portugal
After Marina’s friend Angela* visited our class in April, she soon started going to Marina’s church in another town, where a group of 12 attend faithfully. The church’s pastor informed me that Angela prayed to receive Christ and comes to church all the time with Marina. She would like to be baptized, but her parents have prohibited her from doing so. So she is praying for her family.

Angela also wanted to participate in the evangelical religion classes. Her parents have given her permission on the terms that she also continues with her other religion classes. Now both girls sacrificially give of their time on Thursdays at 5:25 p.m. to stay for an optional class.

When my husband and I visited Marina’s church last month, we saw Marina playing the keyboard for the worship team, Angela singing by her side. On the drums was another student I had two years ago, again in a class by himself. Pray for these young people who boldly live out their faith in a culture where they seem to be the only believers.

*Names changed

Learn More

In 2011, Alliance pioneering workers, including Mike and Ruth Davis, arrived in Portugal. They did not have a program to follow, so as people and opportunities came their way, they embraced them. Read more at “Sowing Seeds of the Gospel in Portugal.”


Use the weekly Alliance Prayer Requests to join the Alliance family in interceding on behalf of our teams in Europe and worldwide.

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