This summer was different
Read on to see the wonderful story of how God worked in the mission trips this past summer.
This was the first summer that we would be flying from the U.S. to Spain to coordinate the festivals. Preparing to leave was a challenge as work on this side of the ocean has escalated considerably in the last several months as we have been working on development projects for World Link Ministries. Just prior to heading to Spain, I had the privilege of speaking at the Pantego Bible Kids' camp. I can't think of a better way to start off the summer. Jamie went as a kids counselor while I spoke and got to minister to all the kids at different times. We were so blessed by the incredible response and when we shared the gospel, 86 kids came forward to trust Christ. Most of these kids were unchurched! Praise the Lord!!
Even though we love to be a part of kids' camps, these are physical and emotional marathons and we were exhausted by the end of the week. Even so, the day after we returned home we jumped on a plane and flew to Spain to kick off the first of the four mission trips.
Our first team was with our longstanding partner from Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA. They arrived without complications and ready to hit the ground running. I was especially excited because they had a 30 plus group which is larger than other years. I am always blessed by the way in which our team from the U.S. and our team of students from our seminary in Madrid gel and this trip was no exception. One of the things I loved about this group in particular was the way in which they deeply cared for the lost. It might seem like a given that a mission team would care for the lost but this is not always the case. It always seems that the teams that come from JFBC have a deep burden to minister to those who need Christ. Over the course of the week hundreds of people of San Sebastian (northern Spain) heard the gospel and we saw hundreds respond to the gospel that week.
We dropped the Georgia group off at the airport on Saturday the 21st of June and four hours later, we picked up our second team. This team came from our home church at Pantego Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX and no sooner had they arrived in Madrid then we loaded the bus and made our way to Benidorm (the southeast coast of Spain). Unfortunately, two hours into the 6 hour drive the a/c went out and that made a long drive even longer. Even so, we made it to Benidorm safely and we all slept hard that night. It was wonderful to see how God worked out the details of our festivals in Benidorm, because for two weeks leading up to the mission trips the government would not grant the permits. By God's grace, the permits came through in the final hours leading up to the trip! For Jamie and I, it was a great blessing that the PBC team worked hard and over the course of the week they really connected with what God is doing in Benidorm. It is always a great blessing to see how a team with such a broad range of personalities will come together united in one mission and purpose. Once again, God used a group for his glory and 168 people trusted Christ!
The turnaround from this group to the next was a challenge. We dropped the Pantego group off Saturday the 28th in Madrid at 9:00 and 15 minutes later I was at the arrivals lounge ready to receive the Quail Lakes Baptist Church (QLBC) team from Stockton, CA. I was exhausted that first day. Not only had I just said goodbye to Jamie, who returned to the U.S. early, but we were all running on very little sleep. On the other hand, the incoming QLBC team had been awake at this point for 30 hours! Suffice to say the six hour trip to Benidorm (where they too would be working) was a quiet one.
One thing that stood out to me about the QLBC team was their incredible attitude right from the start. They were EXCITED to hear all that God had done through the previous groups and the first night of the festival they were whooping and hollering and dancing their hearts out. That continued throughout the week and they all passionately shared Christ with whomever they could come in contact with. God used them greatly and we saw nearly 200 people come to Christ in just a few days of ministry!
At the end of the week we returned to Madrid and dropped the team off at the airport. We were exhausted but rejoicing that God had used us in the ways he had. I headed home to Dallas to spend a few days of much needed time with Jamie and prepare for the final trip with the Pantego Bible Church youth team arriving on the 11th.
The five days in the U.S. were a blur! I was playing catchup throughout the week and working to ensure all the details were in place for our final trip. At the end of those five days, I made my way back to Madrid and it was a good decision to arrive a day before the group. That day was spent prepping for all that needed to happen the next day. When the team arrived from the U.S., all 57 of us drove up to northern Spain and once again, the bus was pretty quiet as everyone caught up on their sleep. =)
The week in San Sebastian was a great highlight. We discovered many ways to improve the trip for future years but these were minor details. Our team both Spanish and American molded together seamlessly and God used them in tremendous ways. It was a special thing to see how the teens had little understanding about the people of Spain or about our mission on the trip but over the course of the week they grew to understand our work in Spain and they shared the gospel with many people. It was a joy to see their new found love for sharing the love of God with total strangers!
If I had to go back to the beginning to do the summer all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. It was such an incredible time. It is such a great blessing to share the love of Christ with all kinds of people and to see God work. Thank you for your partnership. We know that without your prayers and your financial support we would not be able to minister the way we were able to this summer and throughout the year. Please remain faithful to this ministry and this partnership. God is using you and us to impact lives around the world. Thank you and God bless you!
• Dad returns from Liberia tomorrow! Please pray for protection from the Ebola virus and for safe travels. More on exciting developments in Liberia soon...
• Please pray for our trip to Cuba coming soon! I will be there for two weeks with two church groups
• Please be in prayer for our old church in Barajas, Madrid as they have been undergoing big transitions lately
I head to Cuba at the end of August first with a team from Pantego Bible Church. This team will be a small group of leaders who will be ministering throughout the island. Immediately following this week, another group of three pastors will be arriving in Cuba also. I will also be leading this team around the island to get to know our missionaries there and to share the love of God as we go. Please be in prayer for this trip as it will be two very, very active weeks of ministry.
Gratefully in Christ,
Manny and Jamie