Bringing Peace and Reconciliation to Spain
Why This Country is Ready for My Hope
February 14, 2011 - To Bill Conard, BGEA’s Vice President of International Ministries, one of the most exciting things about My Hope Spain is being a part of the answer to the Apostle Paul’s prayers.
It is time to bless Spain with God’s love. It is time to offer God’s peace and reconciliation to every Spaniard.—Jose Pablo Sanchez
In the book of Romans, the he made it clear that it was his desire to go to Spain and spread the Gospel. In some of the Romans cities in eastern Spain (Tarragona, Cartagena, etc.), there are ruins that Spanish Christians say mark the beginning of the church in their country.
Having more than 500,000 square kilometers of land, Spain, populated by 46 million people, is about the size of Arizona and Utah combined. This country’s population density is lower than most European countries, and is roughly equivalent to New England's. In recent years, rural populations are moving to cities. Urban areas, such as Madrid (the capitol), Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla, are also experiencing a significant increase in immigrant populations, mostly from North Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe.
Jose Pablo Sanchez, National Coordinator for My Hope Spain, believes that Spain is playing a key role in the world as an example and model for most Latin-American countries, and a bridge between Europe and North Africa. However, he also sees many Spaniards going through desperate times.
“We are going through a deep economical crisis with a 20.3 percent unemployment rate. People are suffering but they don’t look for God. Only 1 percent of Spaniards are born-again Christians. So, it is time to bless Spain with God’s love. It is time to offer God’s peace and reconciliation to every Spaniard. It is time for an awakening that brings glory to God and joy to heaven.”
He also says that secularism and postmodernism are permeating every aspect of life, and most young people never go to church. These are some of the reasons why he believes Spain is ready for My Hope.
Conard adds that Spanish pastors’ interest in evangelism is higher than has been reported in the past, and that the churches are praying for God to move in their country.
My Hope uses a combination of church support, relationships of ordinary Christians with their friends, family and neighbors, and specially-prepared television programs that feature nationally-known singers and testimonies by outstanding Christians, with messages by Billy Graham, to present high-quality Gospel messages to entire countries. Months of preparation are put into this effort. After the TV broadcasts, Christians invest additional months using BGEA materials to disciple new believers, and to re-establish fallen Christians who rededicate their lives to Christ. Since 2002, BGEA has brought the Gospel to 53 countries through My Hope. Here is how it works:
- BGEA prepares national My Hope coordinators and they train pastors in every region of a country about the My Hope project.
- Pastors train Christians in their churches to pray for others, build closer relationships with them, then host them in their homes, inviting unsaved friends and family for refreshments and to watch the evangelistic national telecasts.
- At the conclusion of the My Hope broadcasts, hosts briefly share their personal testimonies and invite their guests to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
The broadcasts in Spain are planned for December 2011.
The interest in nationwide evangelism in Spain has peaked over the last year, in spite of the autonomous nature of some regions of the country. Because of regional tensions in some areas, My Hope Spain is organized differently than most similar projects.
“We have people from all over the country in our core leadership committee. We do this to demonstrate the spiritual unity and concern for the entire country,” explained Conard. “We have a meeting every month, alternating between in-person and via teleconference.”
At the My Hope Spain launch meeting on November 22, 2010, there were 120 top leaders representing every major denomination in Spain. Like the My Hope Portugal launch, it was a meeting many would not have predicted just a few years ago, due to the sheer cooperation and unity of all involved. Marcos Vidal, a singer who has shared the platform with Franklin Graham at Latin American Festivals, participated enthusiastically at the launch. He happens to be the pastor of one of the largest churches in Madrid.
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Among the various denominational and ethnic groups were gypsies. Of all the groups in Spain, the gypsy Filadelfia church is the largest. Conard recalls his experience in a gypsy service.
“There was very enthusiastic worship, and the music was spectacular. There are more than 500 churches in Spain that were started by gypsies as a result of a revival that took place 40 years ago,” explains Conard. God brought this revival when five Spanish gypsies went to southern France to work in the grape harvest. They heard about Christ there, then came back to Spain and traveled to every gypsy community talking to people about the Gospel. Everywhere they went the Holy Spirit convicted gypsies of their need for Christ, and hundreds in every city turned to the Lord. The churches grew rapidly, and now there are thousands of gypsy evangelical believers.
In Spain’s history, gypsies suffered under the Catholic kings and queens. If the gypsies spoke their own language, they would have their tongues cut out. Men were sent to row in galley ships, and women were forced into prostitution.
Sanchez notes that “although the Gospel has extended greatly among the gypsy people, there are over 40 million non-gypsies without Christ, in a ‘Christian’ culture that is increasingly distant from the values of the Gospel. Now is the time to offer them all a true change that will bring peace and hope to their hearts. Because of the political and religious history of Spain, and because of stories like that of the gypsies, there is still much healing to be done in Spain. Like Sanchez, Juan Blake, Mobilization Coordinator for My Hope Spain, is praying that it will be through My Hope. He believes that Spain is one of the most spiritually needy countries in the world—and perhaps one of the most ready.
“Because of the seriousness of the present financial crisis and the general economy in Spain, we feel this is a very critical time to give them real and eternal hope like they have never known before,” Blake explained. “In my understanding, possibly 95 percent of the Spanish people have never heard a complete, clear explanation of the hope of forgiveness, real spiritual life and eternal salvation. If they do not hear and respond to the message now, they may never have another chance in their lifetime.”
Pray for My Hope Spain
Here are a few ways you can pray for My Hope Spain:
- Pray for a continued revival throughout the churches.
- Pray for a spiritual awakening among the people of Spain.
- Pray for the Spanish government, as it is under severe financial pressure; the general unemployment rate in Spain is 20.3 percent; among younger workers the unemployment rate is 45 percent.
- Pray for the My Hope coordinators as they begin to understand their assignment to involve the pastors in their region in this evangelistic and discipleship project.
- Pray for the goals to be reached: participation of 1,500 churches, 15,000 Matthews and 150,000 people to hear the Gospel as they are invited into Christian homes.