Summer 05

Home | Ministry | About Us | More Info | Prayer | Family News | Photo Album | Past Updates
Johnson Journal

6-18-05, Castles

6-30-05, Festi-Madrid

7-18-05, English Camp

7-24-05, Fishing

7-31-05, Colmenares

Dear Friends,
This afternoon Luis came over to invited me over for a cup of coffee.  Luis is my philosophical neighbor: he leant me "The History of Spain for Skeptics" and is currently reading a book by Stephen Hawking.  I think he felt badly that we haven't been able to play tennis lately.  At any rate we always have good conversations, and he asked me what happened to the "religious meetings" we were going to start (you might remember that we tried to start a seeker sensitive group a couple of months ago).  I said we decided not to start them with summer coming up, but we're thinking about starting something in the fall.  He said he'd be interested!  With our neighbors, it's a slow process.
The Madrid church I'm helping  has set Saturday for our next session.  That's the church that has had some conflicts, and that has asked me to "arbitrate".  Saturday I hope to work through their values and toward establishing a common vision.  Prayers would be much appreciated.
Ian and I have had a great time together while Kay and Greg are in the states.  Saturday we went to a seminar given by a missionary friend on different styles of drawing close to the Lord, and Ian had some terrific insights and questions.  He has started this summer to have his own devotional times.  I'm proud of him!
Thanks for keeping us in your prayers,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian 

Dear Friends,
A Spanish friend told me that there are over 8000 castles in Spain.  You don't have to go very far to find one.  Ian and I went for a drive the other day and found two old castles of feudal lords 20 kilometers from each other.  More accurately, we found the ruins of two castles: the outer walls were well preserved on one, the other could hardly be called a castle.  There were a few rocks left that represented what once was the corner of the outer wall.  The first one once belonged to El Cid, the famous Spanish warrior king.  Legend has it that he won the castle from the Moors in battle.  Take a look at our web page if you'd like to see a picture.
The castles are both built on the tops of very similar hills.  They give the impression of being unassailable, which of course they were not.  Even El Cid's castle reveals signs the walls were breached at one time, then rebuilt.   A lot of time and energy went into building the places.  Those blocks of rock did not just appear on the tops of small mountains, they had to be hewn and hauled up the hill.  Rich and powerful people lived there, for awhile.  How long?  Maybe 50 years, or a few hundred years? 
It makes me think about the "castles" I've built in my life that will not last: too many.  Fortunately, the church of Jesus Christ is not one of them.   It's full of people that will live forever in God's Kingdom.  On Saturday I had the privilege to meet with the leadership team of Alcobendas Evangelical Church for a second time to work through the values of the church and help them establish a vision for their future.  I was blessed that their strongest value is a desire to become a "Great Commission" church, one that wants to make disciples and see a continuous flow of new believers added.
May the Lord build His church, in Alcobendas and here in the Camarma area.
Mark, Kay, Greg, and Ian

Dear Friends,
Festi-Madrid, the Luis Palau campaign, was a blessing.  35,000 people filled up the plaza on Friday night, about the same on Saturday.  There were lots more people on the street across from the plaza, and others out on the balconies of their apartments listening.  At least 6000 decision cards were filled out, indicating that a person accepted Christ or recommitted his life.  As a counselor I was privileged to help lead Elijo to Christ, and I also worked behind a table attending many of the 2000 plus counselors with materials and answering questions.   
Luis Palau wants to take the event to the people, to a central part of a city, rather than inviting people to a stadium.  He wants to stop traffic, get the city's attention, and in fact a portion of busy Calle Alcalá was closed.  An artist called El Puma sang before Palau spoke, introduced Palau, and it was made clear that he would come back to sing after Palau.   To the secular guy out in the plaza, it has the appearance of a big party, he´s supposed to be attracted and want to stay around.  The audio and visual production is first rate, the music as good as what I've seen at many secular concerts.  Some of the artists are known in this part of the world:  José Luis Rodríquez (El Puma), Lole Montoya, and Yuri, all Latin Americans. 
There was over 3 hours of music before Palau even started talking, and he didn't give the invitation until midnight.   That's supposed to be a good hour for Madrileños, but I heard a lot of negative comments from the counselors.  The event is set up so that it appears the message is secondary to the concert, the party.  That's in appearance only, the gospel is clearly preached.  The organization, from the time the Palau people hit town months earlier, is set up to make the gospel message and it's follow up a priority.
Palau wants to get into the press, and he was at least partially successful.  He made most of the major newspapers, and reviews were generally positive.  I picked up a copy of "El Mundo" today, and the title was "Todos a rezar and bailar en Las Ventas"  (Everybody praying and dancing in Las Ventas:  the plaza where it was held)  This translated excerpt gives you a pretty clear picture of the perception of evangelicals in Spain:  "There are not many believers in the Evangelical Church of Spain (capital letters are theirs), but more than it would seem.  The majority of Spanish believers are gypsies that transmit their faith fervently from parents to their children.  South American immigrants have come to the event in mass.  This church is much more acceptable in Latin America."  Synopsis: real Spaniards are not evangelicals. 
The collateral blessing of an event like this is very important: the training church members receive, the chance for churches to work together, the excitement generated, the motivation to evangelize, conversations generated..  After getting to bed at 3:00 AM Friday night I didn't have energy to go to FestiMadrid Saturday, so I got together with several neighbors today.  I was able to talk with each one about where I was and what I was doing at Festi-Madrid.  Not one knew what was happening, knew who Luis Palau is, or the basic gospel message.   But they know more now.
Some churches were very involved, but the church Ian and I attended this morning, the one in which I've been counseling the leaders, did not even mention the event.
Check out our web page for pictures: There are some on the home page, and you can go to the photo album page, click on "more pictures" and then on "Palau Festival" at the top.  While you're there, take a look at our other pictures, too.  They've just been updated.
The big prayer request this week for the team coming from Glenabby Church in Belfast on Saturday.  They will help us do children's and adult English camps in Camarma July 2-9.  Pray that God will be glorified in all we say and do, that He will use this camp to plant His church.
Kay returns from the states tomorrow:>), Greg a week later:>(
Thanks for praying with us,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian

Dear Friends,
For the first time this summer one could say that we've returned to some degree of normalcy, whatever that is, in the Johnson household.  We all just returned from a good annual conference for TEAM Spain, one whose schedule and setting provided a focus on family time and informal get togethers with friends: very enjoyable.  It's amazing how much "business" gets accomplished outside of "business meetings"!
The week before we hosted a neat team of people from Glenabby Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  They were a blessing to have around even beyond all they were able to accomplish for us.  And they accomplished a lot: a Kid's Camp dedicated to learning English in the mornings, and an Adult English course in the evenings.  The closing program we did with the kids was great with good attendance by parents and family members.  The surveys we received requesting  feedback were overwhelmingly positive and gave us lots of ideas about activities we can do in the coming year, and with future teams.
Thanks for your prayers,
Mark, Kay, Greg, and Ian

Dear Friends,
The successful English Camp in Camarma with our Belfast friends a couple of weeks ago continues to be an encouragement, and we are still evaluating the results and considering what we might schedule for follow up events next fall. 
That said, we're in the middle of summer and our teammates, the Steffens, are in the states for a few weeks.   So we are looking for ways to connect with our vacationing neighbors.  Last night we had German brats and beer with our German friend Marcus, his wife Sofía and baby daughter Sonia.  We also talked about terrorism and possible solutions (we tried to crack open the door for the gospel, but it's still closed).  Today I went fishing with Oscar and Anabelia, and we caught a bunch of trout (actually, Oscar caught 9 and I caught three, and his were bigger than mine!)  Tonight we're cooking them up and having dinner together.  Ana is expecting their first next month.
All to say please pray as we connect with these neighbors, plus Amelia and Nacho, Fernando and Loli, Luis and Merchi, Victor and Carolina, and Alberto and Paco, whole of whom we see regularly these summer days.  Also, Greg is connecting with some Spanish kids who he believes drinks.  He wants to be a good testimony to them, so pray for strength and opportunities to share.  He had a good talk with a nonchristian friend in the states about evolution, and is praying for Rusty's salvation.
Thanks for praying with us,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian

Dear Friends,
This weekend we've been able to spend some time with our friends Lucas and Betsabé Colmenares, Venezuelan missionaries in M*rocco.  They are returning from a rather intense time in the states visiting Betsabe's mother, who has inoperable cancer.  Lucas also got around to a few places to share their vision, and was able to raise some support.  Their son, Lucas, spent a couple of days with us (he and Ian have hit it off) while the rest of the family stayed in Madrid.   Today we heard him speak for the first time, in a church in Madrid.  He's an excellent motivator and vision caster.  He has some very creative ideas for reaching people in M___, even though it's illegal to preach or congregate there. 
Today I went to start the car we've been storing for him, and the battery is dead.  He doesn't have any money, and we're pretty low on funds right now as well, but they'll need a new battery.  They also need to finish the paper work on their recently purchased van before they can take it to M____.  More importantly, pray for Betsabe's health: she has fibramialga which keeps her tired much of the time (she slept 16 hours after the trans-Atlantic flight) and Lucas is a dynamo (he had a two hour meeting right after the flight!)   He needs sensitivity to Betsabé, wisdom to know when to push and when to rest for his family´s sake.  They need travel mercies and grace as they head back to M___ tomorrow.
Their vision is to reach the 44 tribes of the Jebala people group.  It's an ambitious goal as they are spread over northern M, in many cases 2 or 3 hours away from the Colmenares´ team. 
On the neighborhood front, I had a good talk over coffee with Alberto last night.  Paul Jeffers from Belfast had shared his testimony when he stayed with him, but Alberto just isn't ready to accept the gospel yet.  And I'm continuing to play tennis with neighbors, in fact there are a couple of new ones, Frank (from France) and Raul.  Kay's two best friends, Sofía and Amelia, are going on vacation so she spent good time with them yesterday.  Keep praying for opportunities to share the gospel. 
We appreciate you,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian