During this time, I have continued to preach on Sundays to the congregation in Málaga and to lead a Bible study on Sunday evenings at the home of José and Bea (although we have had to virtually suspend the Sunday evening study until the end of the summer for various reasons).
Juan Pablo, Rafa and I have now finished the second unit of the church leadership course that we are pursuing together (Curso 222). This second unit of study was on Biblical Theology– a theme that seems to be of growing interest among church leaders in Spain and Latin America because of the number of books being published at the present time on that subject.
While I think the emphasis on Biblical Theology (the study of the progress of divine revelation in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation) is quite positive and necessary, I also see the need in Spain for a corresponding emphasis on Systematic Theology to promote a doctrinally mature and well-rounded understanding of the system of truth revealed in Scripture and the development of a full-orbed Christian worldview. I hope to pursue this emphasis in coming months through the study of our church´s Confession of Faith. As Christians privileged to live after centuries of theological reflection on the truth of Scripture, we are not in the position of having to re-invent the wheel! Rather, we are called to “test all things”– including the theological formulations of our forefathers in the faith– by the one infallible standard of Scripture. Thereby we learn to appreciate how God´s Spirit through the Word has been teaching God´s people through the centuries, so as to benefit from the rich theological legacy they have left to us, their spiritual descendants.
In addition to preaching weekly in the church of Málaga, I am also thankful to have preached recently in other churches in and around Málaga– in the church of Betel, located in downtown Málaga (this was the third time I had preached there), and in the church of Almuñecar, just ninety minutes down the coast from where we live. The pastor of that church, Manuel López, and I are becoming good friends, and are planning to help each other in the work of evangelistic outreach in our two respective communities over the coming months.
Over the last month, Paola and I have continued to build relationships with various friends and neighbors, and these are providing a natural open door for gospel witness. Recently, when we were at the grocery store, we ran into the former owner of the house we just bought, who went with us to church one Sunday a while back. After catching up on recent news, she said to us, “When are you going to invite me to come to your church again?” She told us that she would love for our friendship to continue in the future and would hate to lose contact with us. Please pray for the Lord’s work in her life, and for wisdom and boldness on our part in speaking to her of Christ.
Other friends with whom we have had or will likely have opportunity for gospel witness in the near future include: (1) the contracter who was in charge of the reforms on our house. He is an extremely upbeat, likeable fellow who has been of great help to us personally; recently, I expressed my appreciation for our friendship by giving him a copy of John Blanchard´s book, Right with God; (2) the lawyer who helped us with all the legal issues regarding the purchase of our house; we plan to invite her over in the near future for dinner– and I would love to make use of that time to see if she has read more in the two books that I gave her; (3) our next door neighbors, with whom we will likely have the opportunity in the future to speak of Christ; (4) a man who works at a lamp store downtown, who has invited me to come by for a cup of coffee any time that I am downtown; (5) one of Melody´s school friends from Russia, to whom I recently gave some gospel literature. These and other opportunities for gospel witness have arisen naturally over the last few months as the fruit of friendships that have developed during the time we have been here.
One particularly exciting development concerns a couple that recently visited our church from the town of Loja, in Granada. They were converted some time ago through listening to messages on the Internet by some well known evangelists. The town where they are living, about an hour from Málaga, appears to have no sound evangelical church, though it is a fairly sizeable town of around 21,000 people. They seem quite open to the possibility of brethren from our church visiting them in their home; so I am thinking that I could plan to make at least a couple trips a month to Loja, Lord willing, to begin a Bible study in their home; in that way, the church could adopt Loja as a “point of mission,” with a view to evangelizing that town and praying for the planted seed to bear fruit. Please pray for the Lord´s guidance in this endeavor.
Another development with respect to evangelism concerns the summer of 2017. Recently, I spoke with Jorg Muller, who works with the European Missionary Fellowship. He is presently organizing teams of believers from the UK and other European countries to assist Spanish churches in the work of evangelism by traveling to Spain in the summer of 2017. Our own church has expressed an interest in receiving such a “Go Europe” team next summer. The members of the team would stay with members of our church for a week or so, to help with literature distribution, evangelistic witness in the city parks, and other activities.
Thanks to all of your for remembering us in your prayers.