Saturday, April 4, 2009

Trip to Spain and Tenerife

Dear prayer supporters:
This letter will cover the highlights, and only the highlights (out of consideration for your time)
of our investigative trip to Spain.
On the 1st day as soon as we dropped our luggage off at Mark and Kay Johnson’s home we picked up Tony Vasquez who is Tony Vasquez with Spanish/Arabic New Testamentfrom El Salvador with Youth with a Mission. He is developing a vision for sending Latino missionaries to the 10/40 window. He led us on a fast paced tour of Lavapies in downtown Madrid where 100 different nationalities live within an area of 4 blocks.

Near Plaza del Sol we ate our first “Menu”. Afterwards, we met with John Blake, who has worked with Billy Graham and Navigators in Spain for 44 years and has keen insights into the work in Spain. We will mention here only a few of the important facts that he impressed on us: 377 cities in Spain have no evangelical witness; less than 1% of the population is evangelical. Also, cities of over 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, and even 10 cities with populations of over 20,000 exist with no church. He encouraged us to consider working in one of those pockets where there is no witness. According to John, the key to reaching the Spaniard is to respond to the question, “Why am I here?” which manifests itself in drug addiction and domestic violence. The formerly tight family unit is no longer a commonality.

The 2nd day a group of us met with Ron Anderson, director of European Christian Mission (MK from Latin America and working in Spain for 20+ years. We gained insight as Ron encouraged us to not parachute in and start from scratch but to be a part of a team and connect with Spaniards if possible who have a vision for the same area. He told us of some social action efforts that meet real needs, such as drug rehabilitation, by which Christians have gained credibility as well as opened doors for opportunities for evangelism.

We visited with Aurora Tablante who is a former IBM church member. She now lives in northern Madrid (Los Tablas) an area of more than 50,000 with no evangelical church. Her community connects by trolley to two other communities with no church. She presently drives 45 minutes to attend church. She is pleading with us to help start a work in her neighborhood.

A small section of Las Tablas

On Monday, Micah and Kimberly and we took a 4-5 hour road trip to Granada in a lemon lime Citroen. We ooed and aahed at the fascinating countryside and were fortunate to arrive in time to visit Alhambra for a few hours. We stayed with Danny Johnson, a professor at IIBET, a training center for Latinos who plan to or are working in the 10/40 window. He took us to a teashop in the heart of the Arab section and helped us see the opportunity to work in the Granada area where there are thousands of immigrants from Muslim countries. The following day we priviledged to attend a meeting at the IIBET headquarters. We were humbled to be in the presence of dedicated, high caliber workers, especially Daniel Sanchez, currently on staff at Dallas Seminary. He explained several methodologies for reaching the muslims. We had lunch with a couple from Venezuela who have recently begun to start a church among the Muslim population in Granada. “Open heart closed Door - Closed door open heart.” We heard this phrase repeated a number of times while we were in Spain. Spain has a closed heart with no interest in God and yet there is a open door. In Morocco the Muslims have an open heart but the door is closed. In Granada the two come together.

The 2nd phase of our trip we flew 2½ hours to Tenerife for a fast paced orientation to the different facets of the culture and to the spiritual needs. Yauns, Belches, McMillans, Muhas, and Albrechts with Dr. FortesWe met with Dr. Jose Luis Fortes, (left of Sharon) director of the Council of Evangelical Churches of Tenerife. He gave an overview of the church planting efforts and encouraged us to work on the northwestern side of Tenerife where there are several cities with no church.

One night we gorged ourselves on Canary Style Barbeque in a quaint, rustic temporary eatery which only operates during the wine season while their home brew lasts.

One of the cities that we visited was Icod de Los Vinos on the Northwest side of the island. It has a small church of 8 (Planted some 20+ years ago). We were asked to consider starting a new church plant with this small group of believers.

One of the couples that we toured Tenerife with was Scott and Lorna Muha. (To the left in the picture)They are fellow TEAM missionaries with us in Venezuela. We met with them in Venezuela before we left to consider the possibility of working together with them in Spain. This was a high moment as we looked over this valley and considered this as a strong possibility.

One morning a member of the Albrecht’s church who is also a history professor kindly gave us an interesting overview of the history and culture of the Canarians.

At the open house on Saturday night we were privileged to meet many of the warmhearted and enthusiastic members of the Fountain of Faith and Hope Christian Church. Even as we waited for our departure flight at the airport, we had a brief meeting with the coordinator for FIEDE,
(the association of churches that work with TEAM).

Thanks for taking the time to read about our trip to Spain. Pray with us as we consider these options and seek where the Lord would have us serve next.

Peter and Sharon McMillan