I´ll just say not continuing our ministry and the thought of leaving Spain is never our first choice. This was the first time it seemed like it was getting to where we would be left with no choice and that God was really closing doors here. We just wanted to be willing to do or go wherever the Lord would lead. Involvement with a ministry in Mexico was even suggested to us by Athletes In Action. We are happy to know that for the moment we are not going anywhere nor changing anything, thanks to what the Lord has already been doing.
God is fighting our battles, answering prayers, and showing us He wants us to continue what we´re doing and for that we are relieved and encouraged. Listed are some recent answers to prayer and positive news.
1. On Monday August 26th, we met with the owner of our storefront. We had asked her to lower our rent (of our 300+ square meter storefront located on a main avenue) from 1000€ to 700€ and drop an anual fee. We thought she would offer 900€ or 850€ at best and that we would be stuck with a tough decision. She came right in and without any negotiating, said she would let us rent the store front for 700€ and split the cost of the anual fee. We prayed specifically for God to put that in her heart and He did. It gives us clear leading and a renewed excitement to keep on doing what we´re doing knowing a long term stay is much more possible financially.
2. I called a meeting for the young people who played on our Astur Raptors tackle football team and explained our heart and desire for them not as football players, but as people who can live their lives for the Lord. They took it well. At least two are back working out in our gym. We pray we can keep mentoring these kids and sharing Christ with them and their families. Our prayer is that when we are back in the States next year on furlough, I can work with a highschool football coach and get certification as a coach to come back to Spain and continue our outreach to young people through Astur Raptors football.
3. Just this past week (mid August) we have had many new people coming in to Centro Be Strong asking for English classes, at least 10, not to mention those we have at the moment, and at least 10 more who left during the Summer and will come back this Fall. It looks like we will have a full load of classes this Fall. Danielle regularly discusses the Lord, family and morality, and eternity with her students, who often times receive the discussions with tears in their eyes. One of my students joked that our English classes are more like therapy and counselling sessions. I am currently teaching a man who is recently divorced and wants to learn English to visit more often his son who now lives in Florida. When this student learned I am a Baptist pastor, he excitedly told me that his son and daughter-in-law attend services in a Baptist church in Florida. I assume they are saved given the fact that they are Sunday school teachers and translate Sunday morning messages in to Spanish. My student showed me a book the pastor sent him. I marvel at how God brings certain people in to our lives. We believe God uses our evangelism through English classes to cross our lives with people whose hearts He is preparing. Pray He will soften their hearts for salvation.
4. Attendance in church services remain very low. However, we are encouraged that Claudio, who I baptized and discipled, is back. He had a problem with another person in the church a couple of years ago and left. He seems to be at peace and content being back with us. We pray that he and others will continue with discipleship and Bible studies during the week this Fall.
5. We know that this work cannot continue very long unless we have a team working with us. We have always worked with a team of missionary families, until now. Pray that God will provide for this need.
We are convinced that our "Macedonian call" is to stay right here in Gijón and continue ministering in the way He has led us. In what often times seems like a spiritual wilderness, it has been a blessing to see God´s timely answer to prayer (Psalm 63). Thanks for joining with us in prayer.
Joseph Contreras, Missionary
Iglesia Bautista Libertad de Gijón
Centro Be Strong