Praying about Spain, March 2003
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Johnson Journal

Dear Friends,
It occurred to me, as I prepared to write to new friends in Spain exploring the possibility of going there as our next field of service, that the first order of business is to write to you.   That is to give you a report on our trip, but also to give you some food for prayer.
Our trip went very smoothly, especially considering the uncertainties of flying from and to our part of the country at this time of the year.  In fact, we were detoured through Minneapolis on the way to Spain, and landed in snow in Milwaukee on the return.  So thanks for your necessary prayers for travel mercies.
The first half of our time in Spain was spent in a small town just north of Madrid called Camarma.  It is part of a new phenomenon of small towns springing up all around Madrid as the Spaniards slowly come to the conclusion that it is possible to commute into work.  The word ¨slowly¨applies to just about any change in Spain, especially to the establishment of new churches.  There is an Christian school for missionary kids in Camarma, the Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA), and lots of missionaries who teach live there.  But there is no evangelical church, just as there is no church in the nearby towns of Meco, Valdeavero, Cabanillas del Campo, Villanueva de la Torre, and a variety of similar towns.  At the same time, some of the missionaries in Camarma have made some very good contacts that they have been unable to follow up.  These include 45 attendees from a Bible study on Proverbs last year.  Ned and Joanie Steffens would like to be able to spend more time on church planting, though they have been very involved in the school and administration for TEAM.  So one possibility is that we'd live in a nearby town such as Meco(too many missionaries in Camarma) to facilitate a church plant utilizing the school's auditorium and athletic facilities.  
The second possibility is for the southern city of Seville.  There is a church there under the leadership of Pepe and Mari Miranda, Spaniards with a vision very much like the one we had for the church we helped establish in Caracas.  The mission and vision of the church are great, but they've had several setbacks over the last few months, including elders having to leave because of moral problems.  Another missionary couple, Carey and Sharon Owen, serve in the church.  The focus at the time being is establishing cell groups.  They hope to become a "metropolitan church" and the vision extends to sending missionaries and serving as a resource to other churches in the area.   This is attractive to us for lots of reasons, one of the main ones is the opportunity to work under a Spanish pastor to help get oriented to the culture.  Spain is very different from Venezuela, in spite of the common language.  Schooling for our children would be an issue; it is available, but we'd have to raise about $7,000 more than for northern Madrid. 
Those are the options.  Let us close by sharing some information we've learned about Spain that has drawn us to consider it as our next field of service:
  1. Spain is 6/10 of a percent Christian.  This is less than one tenth the Christian population of Venezuela, and less than Caracas when we went there.  There are fewer Christians in Spain than in Egypt to the south.
  2. The brand of Catholicism in Spain is unique.  It fostered the Inquisition of the middle ages.  It successfully resisted and snuffed out any effect from the reformation in the rest of Europe. 
  3. A devastating civil war broke out in the 1930's.  The resulting dictatorship of Franco, together with the leadership of the Catholic Church, severely persecuted Protestants and Jews and almost wiped out the evangelical church.
  4. Only in our generation has the country reopened to the proclamation of the gospel. 
Spain has seen many monarchs over the last 2000 years, but it has yet to see the reign of the One we serve.  Please pray with us more specifically now as we seek the specific ministry God has for us in Spain.