God did some amazing things in Madrid on a recent Sunday using the artistic talents he placed in the lives of believers. Around 100 of them were involved in organizing and participating in an evangelistic event right in the heart of Madrid’s theater district in a rented theater.
University students in Spain, and elsewhere in Europe, are hungry for God. Take the case of Carmen in Granada, Spain. During her first year at university and, though a declared atheist, she quickly became a regular of the ministry outreach of AGWM personnel, Shawn and Deb. She went to their Christian retreats and visited their church, as well. She heard the gospel again and again. This fall, Carmen moved to Switzerland as part of a study-abroad program, and she asked if such a ministry existed there. It doesn’t! But she was told about a partner ministry in Grenoble, France, not too far away from the Swiss border.
Carmen, the former atheist, spent her money and traveled to France to go on a weekend Christian retreat with Students for Christ, despite never having met any of them. She had a wonderful time and reported that she was filled up spiritually and has grown closer to God.
Who is so hungry for more of Jesus that they would travel alone to another country to attend a weekend retreat with strangers? Spanish former-atheist students.
It all started with an incredible day camp for kids! Kelly Seders, AGWM personnel in Barcelona, Spain and her group of volunteers (with the help of a team visiting from the States) hosted more than 60 children for a week of learning and growing in faith. The theme was imagination and invention, with a theological focus on God’s creativity and the unique purpose for each individual.
It’s common in Spanish culture for kids to attend weekly camps the entire summer due to the long work hours of parents. This, of course, gets expensive. There’s virtually no such thing as a free camp, but the International Church of Barcelona (ICB) provided a camp free of charge. Kids were saying this was the best camp they’d ever attended; they even wanted it to be longer! Parents were blown away by the quality of the camp and amount of fun their kids were having, to the point that some wanted to pay ICB after the fact!
On the first day of the camp, volunteers were standing outside greeting parents and kids with loud cheers, and it caught the attention of several passers-by. Earlier that morning, a woman had asked God, "If you're real, please provide something for my kids to do this week." As one of those interested passers-by, she then asked what was going on in the church, and one of the volunteers told her about our camp. Astonished, she asked if her kids could be signed up, too! They came the following day and were with us for the rest of the week!
Then, in July and August, Nick and Kelly Seders led ICB in a very intentional reading challenge. In order to support biblical literacy and focus on the meaning of the Gospel, we led everyone in a 30-day reading of the New Testament. Since summers in Spain tend to be slow (with locals heading for the hills and tourists hitting the beaches), it was the perfect time for everyone to add scripture into their daily routines! The challenge not only did that, but it also forced fellow believers to come to terms with essential elements of the faith. According to one of the new believers, “It’s been a daily appointment with myself: a space to relax, reflect, and get the answers that only God has. Opening the Bible every day gives me peace.”
For the duration of the NT-30 challenge, the Seders coordinated a weekly gathering outside of the city which allowed for a time of worship and reflection on the things that they as a community had been reading. Teachings included how redemption and restoration function, the power of the Holy Spirit, how to read the Pauline letters, and the message of Revelation. God used these gatherings to support the reading challenge in such a great way!
The ‘On The Red Box’ open-air evangelism ministry based in Madrid, Spain celebrated its annual conference in early September. “This blessed event also commemorated its 15th year anniversary of proclaiming Jesus in the central plaza of Madrid, the Puerta del Sol (translated ‘the door of the sun’, but we like to say ‘the door of the Son’!)” states Karen Prevost of the leadership team. More than a million tracts have been distributed to people walking through the plaza, and the gospel has been shared with people from all over the world, many of them recognizing their need for forgiveness, making decisions to follow Jesus, and getting connected to local churches.
There were 110 participants in this year’s conference which included times of teaching, ministry to one another, prayer and intercession, and, of course, evangelism in the plaza.
Five students received their certificates commemorating the successful completion of the Basic Training evangelism course, which includes reading and viewing training materials, completing tests, and being mentored in preparing a two-minute testimony, a five-minute illustrated message, and leading personal evangelism conversations on the street.
Two newly formed red box teams also received their official red boxes! To qualify, each team needs to have a leader trained through Ontheredbox, a team of at least five people, the blessing of their pastor, and the commitment to evangelize open air at least once a week. These new teams will be proclaiming the gospel in two different areas of Madrid - Colmenar Viejo, and Ventas.
The celebration also was a time of rejoicing for the recent purchase and remodeling of the ministry center. During this past year, God provided nearly $1 million for the purchase of the prayer and evangelism training center right in the heart of Madrid, a very strategic location. Not only was there enough to purchase this space, but enough funds came in to allow for the soundproofing of the prayer room to allow for worship and prayer with more freedom without disturbing neighbors in the building.
“God has great plans ahead! We are praying for ever increasing revelation of Jesus, greater anointing as we proclaim Him, and for many people to begin to follow Him.”