Alliance News Feed – The Spiritual Greening of Spain

by Raymond Ebbett, an Alliance international worker who served in Spain

In late 1992, my wife, Mary, and I were finishing our first term in Colombia, a highly responsive country, when we were asked to pray about a transition to Spain, a much more resistant nation. There’s an obvious contrast between ministry in Colombia and Spain—between harvest and sowing.

The Lord led us to make the move, and when we landed in Madrid, the difference between the two fields was immediately apparent.

A Drought of the Heart

We were so used to Colombia where it rains all the time, and the landscape is wonderfully vibrant. It’s beautiful around Bogota where we lived—with all shades of green. But when we flew into Madrid in July 1993, everything was as dry and brown as could be.

Everything was brown and dead when the Ebbetts arrived in Spain. (Photo courtesy of the author)

We knew that Spain is a more arid country. You know the old line from “My Fair Lady”—“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” It’s not true. The rain in Spain falls mainly in France! It just doesn’t rain that much in Spain.

But it just so happened that we had arrived in the midst of a terrible drought. It was really hot, and with watering restrictions in place, everything looked brown and dead.

Almost immediately, we recognized that this was a picture of the spiritual soil—of the condition of people’s hearts. Spain is not a place where there’s much responsiveness to the gospel. The Lord gave us this picture, and soon afterwards we began to ask people to pray with us for the “spiritual greening” of Spain. That was 25 years ago now, and it was our tag line for concluding every prayer letter.

Praise God that over the years we’ve seen some major developments. Our team has grown from 11 international workers in the 1990s to 44 today from the United States, Canada, Holland, and Colombia. This growth has enabled us to do more at every level of ministry and continue sowing and watering.

Things are gradually “getting greener.” Several dozen churches have been started, a Bible institute was established, and new ministries were launched among North African immigrants and trafficked women. An Envision site has opened. And a new project, the Bethany School of Discipleship and Missions in Alicante, is ministering to Europe’s young people and seeing remarkable fruit. Perhaps most encouraging of all, we’re seeing God raise up a new generation of pastors and leaders.

From Despair to Purpose

One of these men is Javier. Because of the recession that hit Spain between 2007 and 2008, Javier was laid off. His unemployment benefits eventually ran out, and like a lot of people at the time, he burned through his savings.

At that point Javier didn’t know what to do, because he couldn’t get a job. He didn’t want to talk to his parents because they had heavily criticized him for marrying a Peruvian woman. He wouldn’t humble himself to ask them for help.

Javier with his wife, Mar (Photo courtesy of the author)

Instead, Javier went to the Catholic church, because they had a food distribution program in his city. He literally just needed food. Yet when he arrived, they said, “We’ve had so many people asking for food that we don’t have any left.” They directed him to city hall, which in turn pointed him to the Alliance church in town, which also has a food distribution program.

He walked through the door, very nervous about going into an evangelical church, as he had heard such churches were a cult and dangerous. Javier immediately saw a bulletin board with an announcement for a married couples’ course. It grabbed his attention because his marriage was in trouble. His older daughter had even left home because of all the arguing.

Javier wrote down the name of the church, and when he got home, he googled The Christian and Missionary Alliance. A couple of hours later, he called the pastor. He was impressed by the kindness of the people who had given him food, and his curiosity was piqued by what he read on the Internet.

The pastor and his wife soon visited Javier, and within a few weeks, led him to faith in Christ. Most Spaniards don’t come to the Lord that easily or that quickly, but Javier had hit bottom, and God was at work in his life.  Javier’s wife came to the Lord soon after; in relatively short order, his children surrendered to Christ as well.

Javier then reconciled with his parents and got involved in the church and the couples’ ministry. I wish you could hear him pray. What a heart and passion for God! He’s now finishing up at our Bible institute because he believes the Lord has called him into ministry, and he is leading one of our church plants in Madrid.

The Beginnings of a Harvest

As we left for our last home assignment in late June this year, the Lord gave us renewed hope for the future of ministry in Spain. We had a really dry winter at the end of 2017. Normally it rains in October, November, and December—this year it didn’t.

The fields were finally green and covered with wildflowers in the spring of 2018. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Soon it was March, and everybody was worried because our reservoirs were down to about 40 percent. Then the most remarkable thing happened: it started to rain like crazy. It rained almost every day from March through June, which is unheard of.

When we left Spain, it was as green as we’d ever seen it in 25 years, and wildflowers were blooming everywhere.  I could only smile and reflect on God’s sovereign hand, both in the physical and spiritual landscape around us.

The remarkable physical greening of Spain this spring reminded us to trust God for the ongoing spiritual greening of this needy land. As we continue interceding for Spain, we believe that God is going to change the hard, arid, even stony soil of people’s hearts into more responsive hearts of flesh. Prayer is God’s divine soil improvement strategy, so please pray with us for the “spiritual greening” of Spain.


Source: Alliance News Feed – The Spiritual Greening of Spain

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