Dear Friends in Christ,

It has been a while since I last wrote to give you an update on our ministry here in Spain. Thank you for continuing to keep us in your prayers during this time.

The Lord has been very gracious to our family over the last two months in helping us to deal with some of the challenges we have faced in adapting to life here. Since my last prayer letter, we have continued to cultivate relationships with neighbors and with the members of our church, and to develop strategies for ministry and evangelistic outreach to the people of Spain.

I have continued to preach through the epistle of 1 Peter on Sunday mornings, and I find that I really look forward to our worship services, to the time of fellowship with our Spanish brethren, and to the joy of proclaiming God´s Word in this lovely language. What an inestimable privilege it is to declare the glory of our risen Savior week after week here in Spain! It has not been easy to resume preaching weekly in Spanish after so many years of preaching in my native tongue, but I find that with each passing week I feel a greater sense of freedom in the pulpit, and an encouraging awareness of the Lord´s presence with me. I have received invitations to preach over the next month in two other churches, both in Málaga and in the town of Almuñecar, and that is also encouraging.

Sunday evening we have continued to study the subject of child raising in the house of José and Bea, and that study has been well attended by various members of the church. Lately, we have been looking at what is involved in bringing up children in the “discipline and instruction” of the Lord at each stage of their development, and the couples in our church with very young children say that it has been beneficial for them in helping them to know how to respond to their children in a biblical manner when they are in need of correction. We are planning to watch two films in the near future on the subject of family life which I hope will lead to fruitful discussion.

One thing I enjoy about our Sunday evening study is that, after the study, we often engage in theological discussions that I think are also helping the members to grow in their faith. This past Sunday evening, for example, we had an in depth discussion on God´s relationship to tragic events such as natural disasters in which hundreds of people are killed. The conversation gave us an opportunity to look closely at the teaching of chapters 3 and 5 of the London Confession of Faith on God´s Decree and Divine Providence, and I think the discussion was eye-opening and helped resolve for some people questions they had.

Recently, we had the opportunity to invite a neighbor to church. She had expressed an interest in visiting our church, so we invited her and were pleased at her willingness to accept our invitation. That Sunday morning, I preached on God´s purpose in trials, how He uses trials to perfect the faith of His people. After the service, Paco (my fellow elder) and I had a good discussion with her about the character of God. She admitted to that she was “somewhat atheistic” in her thinking. Like so many Spaniards, she was raised Roman Catholic, but has embraced an essentially materialistic worldview, with a little “New Age” thinking thrown in. She told us that she believes that people create their own happiness or misery by the works they perform but does not believe in a personal God behind the scenes who actively forgives or punishes sin. She also said that if God exists, He ought to be pleased with her since she tries to do good to everybody and never intentionally does wrong to anyone. We pointed out to her that the Law of God is much more searching than man´s law, since it searches the motives of the heart; also, that the first and greatest command is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. “That one I don’t do!” she admitted. We declared to her the good news of redemption through Christ and the gospel call of repentance and faith in Christ. As we dropped her off after the service, she told us that she would be glad to return in the future. Praise God! Pray for wisdom as we seek to witness to her and her husband.

Continue to pray for the woman I’ve mentioned whose husband recently left her. She told me recently that she was reading one of the books that I gave her after her husband left, and that it was helpful; but she seems to be wanting to maintain a certain distance at this point. Pray also for two of the workers who were painting and repairing our house, to whom I also gave evangelistic literature.

Speaking of the house which we purchased, the painting and repair work have now been completed– it took longer than we anticipated, for several reasons– and we are now cleaning the house before moving into it. We have a shipment of furniture from the United States due to arrive in Málaga on May 27th, but we hope to move into the house before then. It will be such a blessing. Lord willing, to be living finally in a place that we can call our own. There is a feeling of putting down roots when you move into your own home.

Juan Pablo, Rafa, and I finished the first unit of study of the church leadership course we are taking together (Curso 222). We read and discussed together the book Expository Preaching by David Helm, which was very good. I have purchased another book on preaching that I want to discuss with Juan Pablo and Rafa that I believe will serve as a good supplement to the book by Helm– John Carrick´s, The Imperative of Preaching. Carrick speaks of the different modes of the verb that God uses in addressing lost sinners and redeemed saints– the indicative, the interrogatory, the exclamatory, and the imperative– and calls on preachers to embrace this “divine rhetoric” as a safeguard against preaching that lacks pastoral warmth, urgency of appeal, and pointed application to the lives of the hearers. The next unit of study will be on biblical theology. Pray for God´s blessing as the three of us pursue this course of study together– that God will bless our reading and our conversations.

Recently, I purchased a table that I plan to use in evangelistic ministry as a book table. I also talked with a fellow missionary pastor, Manuel López, about the possibility of our collaborating together in open air ministry and literature distribution. Manuel lives in the town of Almuñecar, which is a little over an hour from Fuengirola. and he has much experience evangelizing in the town where he lives. He is working as an associate worker with the European Missionary Fellowship, the mission with which I was associated from 1998-2003, when I was living in Alcázar de San Juan, so theologically, we are on the same page and can work well together in proclaiming the gospel. Continue to pray that I will get the permit to set up the book table in the “Martiricos market” of Málaga, where I can give out gospel literature to interested passers by.

Recently, Paola had to make a sudden trip to Sicily when her father suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to the intensive care unit in the town of Sciacca, and at first, it looked like he was on his way out of this world. Graciously, however, the Lord has extended his days on the earth. He is now out of the hospital, and he and my mother-in-law have moved into an apartment where a full-time caregiver will look after them for the time being. Paola was thankful to have the opportunity to see her parents once again after this prolonged period of separation, and she was so happy to travel with her three sisters on the same plane from Spain to Italy and back again. Melody and I are thankful to have her back home!

In the near future, our congregation will have to bid farewell to some regular visitors who have been with us for many months– Elsie from Holland, and Gunnar and Elisabeth from Norway. They will be returning to their home countries to pursue their careers, but they have been a great blessing to us, along with other students from Norway, who have been worshipping with us on Sundays. Pray for them. Elsie is wanting to serve as a missionary in Latin America, and is seeking God´s guidance in that regard.

Paola is continuing to teach children in the Sunday school class, using materials from Desiring God ministries. This week, she will be teaching the children about the Trinity, which she finds to be a challenge! Melody continues to do very well in her school and is enjoying her friendships with classmates from various countries. She understands a lot of Spanish, but is still hesitant to speak the language. Pray that God will help her to overcome her timidity in using the Spanish she knows in conversation.

Pray for our health, as well. Lately, I have been suffering from pain in my right heel, which has been diagnosed as a “plantar fascitis.” A ligament on the bottom of my foot has been torn and is slightly inflamed. The problem is aggravated by the fact that I am pretty flat-footed. The podiatrist made a special insole which gives support to my arch, and has told me to walk as little as possible for the next three weeks. I am praying that my foot will heal without the need for surgery of any kind.

Thank you all for remembering us in your prayers.