Pastor - Barcelona, Spain
Samuel is the brother of Pastor David Barcelo and is partially supported by HeartCry to help with the growing church in Barcelona (Iglesia Evangélica de la Gracia) as well as the many churches and small groups throughout Spain that have requested help from them. Samuel is married and has two children.
I was born in a Christian family that was dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ. From an early age I was taught my need of a Savior and confronted with the reality of my sin; which although it may not have seemed grievous to some, it was very serious in light of a Holy God. As a typical child I only thought of myself and my own interest. I was not interested in the preaching of the Word of God and I still remember laughing at times when I should have been showing respect and devotion.
In the church that my father used to pastor in Mallorca we held vacation bible school during the summer holidays as a testimony to the neighborhood. I remember that the Lord greatly used that time to prepare my heart for the gospel. One Sunday, when I was only eight years old, we sang the hymn "A new name in Glory" and the Lord powerfully touched my heart. I felt the weight of my sins removed and I received the conviction, in my simple understanding, that my name was also written down in Glory—that I had been chosen to be part of God’s people. Afterwards, I was discipled for a year until the evidences of my conversion and my growth in the understanding of the gospel could be seen. At nine years of age I went down into the waters of baptism in obedience to my Lord and Savior, and as a public testimony of my new birth.
Soon after, my parents responded to the Lord's calling and we moved to Madrid to study theology. Our time in Madrid tested my faith, but God was faithful and He sustained me through it. After his first two years of study my father was offered the pastorate of a church in Catalonia (Spain) where he still ministers to this day. At that time I was struggling with spiritual apathy, I did not seek the Lord as I used to, I did not read His word, and I had lost my first love. On top of it all, I had fallen into a very deep idolatry of football (soccer). I lived for football! On one occasion as my mother woke me up in the morning I shouted “goal!" It was an obvious sign of my idolatry and rebellion. However, the Lord, in His providence, used my idol to return me to Him. I had two knee injuries that helped me see my sin and to recognize that my delight was found on earthly things and not in my Creator.
In the middle of all this, I remember my mother asking me how I felt, to which I replied “horrible”. I felt condemned, but that did not matter, the only thing I wanted was to help others to not be lost like me. My mother helped me see what a great contradiction my words were, for only a child of God would have the desire to share the gospel with the lost. This was a turning point in my life.
When I was twelve years old, I started studying piano and music theory in a professional conservatory. I was very stimulated by music and poetry because of my family’s influence. After studying for three years I started learning to compose and write my own songs to honor my Lord and Savior. God has used music to allow me to express my devotion to Him, and composing become a wonderful instrument in my relationship with God. Since I was sixteen years old I have served in worship ministries and God has blessed me greatly through them.
When I was eighteen, I started studying psychology. Those were four very difficult years where I dealt with ideas contrary to God’s truth and endured many direct attacks to my faith from my teachers. But the Lord preserved me and delivered me by His mercy from great evils. He preserved my faith in Christ during my time in the blazing furnace through the biblical university groups where I taught the word of God and felt the companionship of my brethren and friends.
After college, I felt greatly dissatisfied. I had studied men’s philosophies which they used to justify their sin. None of this made sense, and thus, I decided to go deeper into the all-sufficient, inerrant and perfect Scriptures. For four years I studied the Scriptures and the Lord used this to build in me a good theological foundation that helped me bring my own thoughts captive and obedient to Christ, along with enabling me to faithfully serve Him in my local church.
Shortly after this period of growth, the Lord allowed me to join a small group of brethren who met in different homes in Barcelona. We shared the same vision of planting a biblical church in our city, which eventually gave birth to the Iglesia Evangélica de la Gracia. We wanted the next generation to have what we did not have. During these last thirteen years, I have served in different ministries at the church. The Lord has given me the privilege of seeing a gospel-centered church grow and of witnessing his supernatural work in the lives of the unsaved through His Holy Spirit. It is my hope that many more can hear the true gospel and that there may be many healthy churches built by the Lord Jesus Christ throughout Spain.