Starting from Scratch

Dan and Joy West have had a rich missionary career. They have served in Spain since 1988, planting a church, serving at Evangelical Spanish seminary, and most recently cofounding an evangelism ministry called OntheRedbox. Over 65 Red Box evangelism teams have been formed in Spain, Europe, and the Americas, with many more in process. From a career perspective, the Wests have accomplished a lot. Yet at a time in their career when they might be tempted to stay in their comfort zone, Dan and Joy are starting over.

About three years ago, God began revealing His will to the Wests—to leave the mission field where they had served 30 years. They are known in Spain, have lifelong friends, and had fruitful ministry there, but He began speaking to them about planting a church in Portugal. Through prayer, the plans became clearer.

God was asking them to reach out to the English-speaking community on the east side of Lisbon. There they will be close to several English-speaking embassies, the airport, and public transit systems. They will also be close to the University of Lisbon, which attracts nearly 47,000 students each year, including more than 5,000 international students. Even though only about 25 percent of those who live in Lisbon speak or understand English, for those under the age of 30, that number becomes 80 percent.

The opportunity to reach young people, especially university students, excites the Wests. One reason is because Dan and Joy are recent empty nesters—their daughter Charity enrolled this fall at North Central University. And they find themselves at another significant life change: going back to the mission field while leaving their daughter in the States. They acknowledge it will be difficult to break into the secular university world, but they plan to utilize their significant evangelism experience to reach out to students on campus.

The Wests know challenges are ahead and that they can’t rely on their own strength to accomplish this work. “Only through prayer, soul winning, and discipleship will we see the church planted,” Joy admits. “Success is measured by obedience to God’s call. If we obey in the small things, He will grow the church one soul at a time.”