¡Saludos! The journey continues as the Lord works in us and through us in España.
Yesterday…We caught the train into Barcelona to meet Maria. We went into a somewhat seedy neighborhood, called El Raval. In the heart of this place that is famous for prostitutes, drug use, and other illegal activity, we met Maria. After standing out in the rain for a few minutes, wondering if we had knocked at the wrong door, we were quickly ushered into a warm meeting room that looked something similar to a hangout place for college kids to do slam poetry. (No wonder, later I found out the Barcelona team of Campus Crusade is based out of this building). There were lots of comfy chairs, a few couches, and a small stage with some wooden stools. This informal meeting area is used to reach out to girls who are enslaved to prostitution, either by choice or by force. We got right to the heart of the matter and started asking questions like, “How do you train someone to go out to the girls?, How long have you been doing this?, What types of risks are involved?, How do you try and gain their confidence and trust?” We were given a lot to digest and think on, but more than anything, we were left with the idea of commitment. Just like all ministry, in order for there to be a relationship, there must be trust. These girls have a really hard time trusting anyone so this isn’t the type of ministry that you go out once every now and then or bring new people with you every week. Maria has been going out with her team to build relationships and share the Gospel with these girls every Wednesday evening, for the past four years.
It was a short time together but well worth it. God is working in the heart of this place and is making Himself known! We will be praying for this ministry and considering how we can reach out to the girls that are close to us.
On Monday…I (Krista) have a weekly English conversation class, (i.e. intentional conversation about spiritual things in English) with a friend. My friend is a few years older than Edu and was introduced to me by someone I know from church. My friend and their family have become good friends of ours. The conversations we have together are incredible, many times they ask me questions about faith, or other times I ask them questions about why they pray to a virgin. In one of our latest conversations, I asked them if the virgin that they pray to to knows them personally. “No, I don’t think so”, they answered. My heart broke, but they’re exactly right. We continued talking about how it’s possible to know God, how He cares for us and loves us. How He died for us and rose from the dead.
Last Friday…We began a new study with our pastor. Apart from small groups, and Sundays, every other Friday our church offers a spiritual formation class that is open to anyone. We finished our “Basic Bible Doctrine” class (hip hip hooray!) which was good, but very long. This class was really enjoyable, it ended up being a smaller group with good comments and debate. Our new study is “The Gospel Centered Life” and we’re looking forward to it. As you can tell by the picture, this group is going to be much larger. More than 20 people came the first night! We have this study every other Friday, and then small group afterwards. These Fridays usually make for very long days, often times beginning at 7:00AM with ministry at the seminary and getting home well after midnight from church and small group. We’re grateful, but we need extra endurance for these days : )
Praises & Petitions:
- Praise Him for providing us a flat in Vilassar. It seems like just a month ago Edu was consoling me because I was worried we didn’t know where we were going to live when we return to Spain from the US, and now we have two options! The flat belongs to a couple from the church and they have offered us a steal of a deal for the rent.
- Praise Him for teaching us daily lessons of humility. By living in community (the seminary) and with each other (marriage) we see more and more how despicable our sin (Read our sin, not the sin of others) is and how we have such lessons to learn about forgiveness*.
- Please pray for our relationship with our sending agency, that we would be sensitive to the Lord’s leading and open to change.
- Pray for our future ministry plans, the pastors of our church have approached us with some ideas that on one hand make us tremble (because of inadequacy) and on the other make us want to shout and jump for joy (because these things are our passions).
- Praise and pray for our trip to the US! Pray that this trip would serve to solidify things with our sending agency, raise sufficient support to continue to serve in Spain, and to be a blessing as we bring good news from Spain to you, the Saints at home!
*In closing, I (Krista) wanted to share what I am personally learning about forgiveness. I just finished a book called, “Well-Intentioned Dragons, Ministering to Problem People in the Church”. By the title, I think you can tell what some of my ministry struggles have been : ) Without emphasizing the conflict, but focusing on the things redeemed, I would like to share a few things that I’m processing on the topic of forgiveness.
“Forgiveness at bottom is a new beginning, starting at the present moment, the present situation. You don’t start where you wish you were but at the place where you are. Together, you begin again… True forgiveness, is saying, “I don’t completely understand you. I can’t excuse what’s happened, and I can’t forget what you’ve done. But here’s my hand. I want to be your friend again. I still want to work with you. Let’s begin over.” p.145-146
Sometimes we think it’s better to build walls to defend ourselves. Not letting others in, not giving them the chance to hurt us. But we would never learn, we would never be molded, and we would certainly never grow were we to do that.
“How can you learn forgiveness is no one else is around? How can you learn humility living alone? How can you learn kindness or gentleness or goodness in isolation? How can you learn patience unless someone puts yours to the test? To save souls, you must bring them together.” p. 148
Through adversity and interpersonal relationships, I am able to put into practice what God does daily with me. He restores that which has been broken and gives me the opportunity to experience His grace. It is life among people, “that develops the qualities God requires.”
“It is good that we at times endure oppostition and that we are evilly and untruly judged when our actions and intentions are good. Often such expereinces promote humility and protect us from vainglory. For then we seek God’s witness in the heart.” -Thomas á Kempis
Thank you for partnering with us, we count it as no small thing! We have your names written on paper so that we can be praying for you. We truly enjoy giving thanks for you and your ministry to us as well as praying for your needs!
Your Servants in Christ,
Edu & Krista