Good evening from Puebla del Rio, Andalucía, Spain. Since Thursday Sara, Sarah Ruth and I have all been very sick with a very bad colds, so we’ve had to cancel a few activities to not infect our friends. I guess this may be the Lord’s way of getting us to rest now that the team has now traveled up to work with my brother-in-law, Dan Leatherwood, in Navarra.
But besides our colds, I’m writing to tell you that this last week was fantastic! THANK YOU to all who prayed for us and the Vision team that came from San Diego Christian College, as we ministered in many different corners of Spanish society. It was beautiful to see how the Lord worked out all these divine appointments for the right people and groups to hear the Gospel sung by Vision, or to see the Gospel message portrayed in one of their stunning mime presentations, or to hear the Gospel clearly preached from the Bible, but this last week the Good News got out where we work in Puebla del Rio, Coria del Rio and in downtown Sevilla! For now I’ll just give the highlights.
Last week I started putting up posters that Sara designed for Vision’s concert in the Puebla City Hall Auditorium. The venue was excellent and so was the fact the City Hall gave it to our church to use, no questions asked. So Thursday afternoon, I went to pick up Vision at the Sevilla train station, along with my fellow TBMer Frank Benoit and my buddy from the praise team, Jose Rivera. We managed to fit all the suitcases and carry-ons somehow! Good thing my station wagon has a roof rack! So they arrived with a little time for orientation before the Puebla Church’s Thursday night service. I got to translate for myself during the service, which was funny, and Vision got up at the end to sing a number for those present to give a preview for their concert Saturday (and because some our members can only attend Thursday nights, so it was the only chance for a couple people to hear Vision.)
Friday after breakfast I was delighted to have 14 extra pairs of hands, so Professor Larry Wilson, Vision’s director, and I made a 1,000+ more concert flyers and on a map I divided up Puebla and sent out groups of two to put flyers in everybody’s mailboxes. At the show on Saturday night, Salud Benoit counted 12 people in the auditorium who weren’t from our church nor the Coria church nor related to anyone from our church, basically 12 strangers, so we guess one person came for every one hundred flyers passed out, since we passed out over twelve hundred flyers. In all there were well over 70 people in the building. Rewinding to Friday night, Sara and I hosted the home fellowship at Frank and Salud’s house and we thought it would a neat encouragement to our local believers to hear the testimony of every Vision member. So we went around the room sharing about 20 testimonies in all. There were tears and laughter and it was really a tremendous time spent hearing the story of how each person came to have a saving faith and relationship with Jesus. Afterwards we were shocked that having brought such a simple subject resulted in such a powerful time of testimony.
Saturday after lunch Frank had already gotten the keys for the City Hall Auditorium, so Vision went to practice in the City Hall, and for someone who has spent long hours of my life in choir/praise team/ band practice, I was very impressed by their professionalism and I enjoyed hearing and seeing the talent that they brought to Puebla. I reminded them that my sister, Lisa Leatherwood, came to that same auditorium in 1992, singing with Vision, so this was their first follow-up concert in 21 years, about the average age of the singers. Since I was the concert promoter, I was nervous before hand, sweating in my nice clothes. For some reason I was nervous about getting up in front of people in a theatre, am I getting out of the habit? maybe. But in the end people came, we got the technical issues like distribution microphones for first and second acts settled, with the help of the Vision tech, Donny Bueno, and I got to give the welcome and introduction to the theatre crowd. I sat back-stage with Vision in the green-room as we listened to Jose Rivera and his Rumba flamenquita group, which comprised a good portion of his family and the whole gypsy portion of Puebla Evangelical Church. Backstage we had the usual pre-show laughs and gitters that makes performing what it is, and I was so grateful right then in the green-room that the city officials Frank and I talked with weeks before had given us the theatre. The Rivera family did a beautiful job, Joselito leading the group on guitar with his Uncle Angel playing too and his father, one of the pillars of our church, Clemente, singing lead vocals. Two of our teens, Moises and Clemente providing percussion, two of our mom’s from church singing back-up. It was a lovely flamenco set that brought glory to God. It was obvious from the cheers, as I went out again to introduce Vision and as Donny prepared the stage, that it was going well.
Vision gave an exceptional performance in the variety of their program. It wasn’t just a gospel choir singing for an hour, which is okay too, but it was more than that. Once they had sung a strong opening choir number they followed with a funny and meaningful sketch. Peppered through the show were unique numbers like a violin and piano duet, a hilarious barber-shop quartet by the guys, stunning sketches about life and death that had the crowd in tears, and then good ole gospel accompanied by their director, Larry Wilson on the keyboard. Vision took their bow to great applause, and the table was set for me to share the gospel and many in their seats still had tears in their eyes. So the Lord gave us an ideal setting to share the Gospel and we did.
Sunday morning at 9:15am we had Pastor Jose Maria at Coria Evangelical Church invite us to come over and have breakfast at their church breakfast hour, which included a few Moroccan families who are welcomed to have breakfast in the church. After finishing breakfast I worked with the praise team core of Vision to get the praise music portion of Sunday ready. I helped them to learn songs that they would be familiar in English that our locals believers sing in Spanish. So it was a successful hour of practice before the united church service for Coria and Puebla began. Frank gave a welcoming scripture reading about Missions Sunday and then we lead the two congregations in a very special time of worship. After the worship time Vision was introduced and did both sketches and choir numbers but not all the same ones from Saturday night. Again, the sketches were very effective and powerful. Jake shared his testimony of how Christ carried him through cancer and how he has been changed and even grateful for having had cancer. When Jake was finished Professor Larry gave a timely message on missions for us who live in Seville province to reach out to those unreached places and people with the hope of the gospel, reminding us that those who are with us are more than those against us, that the battle belongs to the Lord.
Vision sang in front of the cathedral on Monday, with many tourists video-taping, then immediately afterwards I rushed the sound-system and a first car load to convalescent home in the countryside west of Puebla del Rio, where we prepared for a 5:30 pm presentation for the residents and staff. Again the Lord opened the door for the Gospel to be presented in many ways. Vision gave a beautiful show of mime and chorale performance, and they received hearty applause from the residents and nurses. Afterwards, the staff welcomed us with refreshments in the dining hall and we had more opportunities to share. Wednesday Vision sang one last time for the seniors of Doukania Ministry, which is a ministry that reaches out to encourage and build up retirees both physically and spiritually. Of course the Vision team bonded during the breakfast with the many grandparents, and when we left for the train station there were many tears.
There are certainly more stories than this to be told, and there were other people involved who will tell them, but that’s my highlights of the first half of the week. What is clear is wherever we went, the word went out somehow, because everyone should know the Good News.