This summer is shaping up alright! Over the last 8 years I have officially lived in Spain, yet in those 8 years I’ve had many setbacks and life-events that brought me out of Spain for months at a time. Ironically, very few times have I ever had the privilege of skipping the scorching Andalusian summer. In fact, my wife Sara has had to be in the US more than in Spain since we got married, BUT she hasn’t missed a summer yet. She’s going on her third July here in 110 degree Puebla del Rio. So this winter when it was still very pleasant here in Sevilla we went about forming a strategy for making this summer bearable and purposeful, especially with our baby. We looked at the calendar of events like camps and conferences that wouldn’t just be a way for us to get out of town, but to go places with a purpose, taking the youth to camp and events, representing our church at the national assembly, helping with a nearby campaign. We also knew that by attending some big events, that they would bring up even more ministry events for us to take our church-members to. So we planned this spring first to host a team from San Diego Christian College, then to attend to both the National Assembly of the Federation of Evangelical Churches of Spain that our church belongs to and we also got in touch with the program directors of APEEN, the best summer camp in our area, a camp I have worked before, to participate in the team and to take along the kids from our church.
The National Assembly of FIEIDE was held June 24-28 in Cullera, in the Valencian Province. We carpooled with our co-workers early Monday morning on June 24th. It was very hot when we picked up another FIEIDE pastor in Montoro, Cordoba Province, but by the time we had driven east through Castilla-La Mancha and through Valencia, it was nice and cool on the Mediterranean. One could feel the heat simmering away as we drew nearer to the sea. That was the first “treat” of going to the assembly, it had been a 100 degree day in Sevilla and Cordoba, but on the coast where the assembly was it was crisp and cool. The week was very useful too, with many of my pastor friends meeting Sara and my baby for the first time. Also, we heard rousing messages on world mission by misiologist Samuel Escobar. His lectures were tremendous and Spirit-filled in reminding us about taking the Great Commission seriously, in Spain and beyond. The hotel where the FIEIDE Assembly was held was a block from the beach and also had a pool and baby-pool, so Sarah Ruth had a wonderful time splashing in the Mediterranean and in the baby-pool! It wasn’t a bad week at all, in fact with the economic crisis affecting the tourism, the hotel gave the FIEIDE a very good package deal for the third year running. So without spending more than we would for four nights at a hotel we also got to spend time with all our peers who pastor around Spain. We had a tremendous time in God’s word and we certainly escaped the heat for a week! We had tea with an English missionary couple in Montoro, where we dropped off our pastor friend, then were home by Friday night. Sunday I preached on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, as there was so much information and conviction resting on me from the conference.
A week later, on July 7th we drove off across Spain again, this time with Sara, Fufi, and one of our Sunday School girls to APEEN Camp. This years theme was “Solidari Mundi”, Worldwide Solidarity. We had a brilliant time serving and playing hard with 55 kids in the Andalusian mountains. The lessons from the Bible each day focused on how the kids needed to look at the example of Jesus having compassion on the sick and disabled. We learned about how Messiah sends his disciples to every tribe and nation in the world to hear the Good News of the Gospel, so we need to start by loving and understanding people from other countries, cultures, and backgrounds. These lessons taught both the full-Gospel, but also a key them for kids these days, to treat others well, as Christ wants us to, especially those who are marginalized and different. I was personally very happy with how the boys in my cabin participated in our devotionals, and it seems as though they were understanding each day’s lesson. The camp, Manantiales de Vida, is up in the mountains of Malaga Province, in a much higher elevation than Sevilla, ok, anything is a higher elevation than Sevilla. But the camp was in the mountains. There were mountain peaks, and babbling brook, and ever running mountain spring fountain to drink from
and I was personally in charge all week at the camp pool. It was amusing to be back lifeguarding after a few years off, but I was very comfortable and in my element at camp, as camp work is the trade I know besides church-planting.
My baby Fufi was delighted and ran freely all over the camp! It was just a piece a paradise and I thank God for it! Many people prayed for Manantiales de Vida Camp to not close. My late co-worker Dan Ashcraft was one of them. I saw Dan’s prayer tangibly answered this last week. The camp is running as if nothing had ever happened, and many kids came to know the Redeemer who can save them from their sins. As I’ve said before, God used his stunning creation to let all heaven break loose.