And therefore I am going to Spain.
Meaning everything preceding this post leads up to this.
Spain, this beautiful country that I avoided studying because I never intended to go there for the purpose of outreach because in my mind it went “Spain=Europe=modern=knows about salvation=doesn’t need missionaries”. So I studied Central and South America. Because in my mind it went “Central/South America=jungles=not modern=doesn’t know about salvation=needs missionaries”. While preparing for graduation I sought out opportunities down south, landed one that sounded awesome in Costa Rica, and began preparing. But throughout that last semester in college something funny happened.
For my capstone class I was required to take “Spanish Medieval Literature”. My knowledge of Spain quadrupled. My brother and other close friends went to Spain last summer and were learning all about it so I, by association, learned a lot about it.
This land is torn by decades and centuries of religious war. From 711 when the Moors invaded, slaughtered and settled and Spain, then called “al-Andalus”, followed by a time of peace between Muslims, Jews and Christians to “El Cid”, the famous Christian conqueror in the 11th century, along with others determined to dominate and convert brought on times of slaughter. All by people standing up and saying, “I’m right, you’re wrong, I will not listen to you.” Hate. War. Misunderstanding. Closed off minds. Un-love. It would intensify until reaching it’s zenith in 1491. Ferdinand and Isabel. The murder and exile of thousands of innocent Jews and Muslims. Catholicism and Protestantism begin a bitter battle. Today Catholicism is the state religion.
This land is filled with people who look back on it all and say, “This is not real, it only causes hurt”. Who can blame them. 95% claim Catholicism, but few practice it. Few find it fulfilling. Few find life and love and joy and satisfaction in it. They don’t see God, Jesus, Spirit as relevant to their lives. This land is filled with entire regions of thousands of people without access to a church, any church; any gathering or real, living, breathing people who would be able to look them in the eye and say, “I once was dead, but now I am fully alive. I believe in the love of God and it’s ability to change us. It’s ability to right wrongs and heal hurts and make the dead come to life.”
At the time I maintained my focus on Costa Rica. I had to know if there was something there that I would want to invest my life in full time. It had been my childhood dream. But, with great joy, I found a land of thriving Christians, people who love the Lord, people who can share truth and life with those surrounding them. People who were being trained up as leaders in credible seminaries. I began a quest of seeking God’s heart for global missions. Ultimately, through that awesome experience where I learned unspeakably valuable lessons and served where there was need, I decided that no, this is not where I would return in the future for long term outreach.
Another aspect of this shift has been the development of a new understanding of “missions”. I’ve begun to read books such as “When Helping Hurts” by Brian Fikkert and “Toxic Charity” by Robert Lupton, soaking up knowledge in hopes that I can be a part of positive, much-needed transformation in local and global outreach. I’ve been praying fervently that He would make us wise and discerning, to be people passionate about being helpful, not harmful, about not creating dependency or leaving anyone feel disempowered. I’ve been praying fervently that He would make us humble and give us an honest, real, genuine approach to build relationships with these people whose names and faces I don’t know but my heart longs to share life with.
Therefore I am going to Spain, the least “missionized” country in the 10/40 window, with eleven awesome people who love God and love people. We are all sincerely interested in learning their language and hope to be able to use that to build friendships with the people there and share our lives with them. In the process I’m considering the possibility of returning in the future to teach English and make a long-term commitment to be present there with the people of Spain.
I couldn’t be more thrilled! Your prayers sand support are so very appreciated!