Rogério has been the pastor of the evangelical church in the town of Sines, in Portugal since 1998. Prior to this he and his wife Sónia studied at EMF’s School of Biblical Studies in Welwyn, England. It was during this time that Rogério benefitted greatly from the ministry of the late Robert Sheehan, who ran a mini-Bible school in his church. This simple but effective initiative had a lasting impact upon Rogério (and many others) and inspired him to do something similar in his own ministry. This desire finally became a reality four years ago when, along with a fellow Brazilian pastor Elias Lima (serving in Beja, Portugal), he commenced an online Bible training course.
The main objective of this course is to train and equip ordinary believers to serve more effectively in their local churches – for example by being able to preach, engage in one-to-one discipleship, take on positions of leadership etc. However, Rogério also hopes that the course will serve as a catalyst for further, more formal theological education. Encouragingly, one of the men who attended the online Bible training course is now enrolled in London Reformed Baptist Seminary (LRBS).
The need for theological training in Portugal is profound. Many churches there are small and are bereft of faithful and capable leaders. And even when a church does have its own pastor there is no guarantee that he has been well trained. Consequently, Portuguese believers can easily fall prey to the prosperity gospel, the Charismatic movement, and other forms of shallow, unhealthy theology. Therefore, raising up a new generation of godly and gifted Portuguese men and women is imperative.
At present, there are ten to twelve people regularly attending the online Bible training course via zoom. It’s a very diverse group – the students are from Portugal, Brazil and Angola, and range in age from 16 – 72! This mixture of different cultures, ages and giftings does not cause a problem – in fact, it actually enriches the whole learning experience.
The course, which is entirely free, runs from September to May each year. The classes are held twice a month on Saturdays from 2.30pm – 5pm and focus on books of the Bible, homiletics, and church history. Feedback from those attending has been very positive indeed. It’s clear the students are benefitting enormously from the lectures, which are always accessible, interactive, and engaging.
Rogério is keen to continue developing and improving the course. In the future he hopes to provide a wider range of subjects to be studied, involve more lecturers, and see many more people enrol and be better equipped for gospel work.