Justin and Steffani are establishing a new field for NMSI in Spain!
I (Steffani) have been reading through the Book of Acts in my personal Bible study. Philip is one of seven key players in the church at Jerusalem. In Acts 8 an angel asks the apostle to take the road south of Jerusalem, toward Gaza. On his way, Philip meets an Ethiopian man, a eunuch.
â€œAnd the Spirit said to Philip, â€œGo over and join this chariot." So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, â€œDo you understand what you are reading?"And he said, â€œHow can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." Acts 8:29-31
I read this passage while Justin and I were on our mission survey trip to Spain. After spending a few days in Spain, something familiar struck me. When Philip approaches the eunuch trying to read and understand Scripture, he point blank asks him if he knows what he is reading. The eunuch's response is, â€œHow can I? Unless someone guides me."
During our trip we learned a lot about Spain, its demographics, culture, and subcultures. We met a lot of people from different nationalities and through our conversations we discovered two important things:
First, Spain is a really dark place, spiritually speaking. It's estimated that only between 1-2% of the population are evangelical Christians. The other 98-99% are comprised of nominal believers at best, while the vast majority do not ascribe to any religion. Like many post-Christian nations in Europe, that means this country is unreached!
Second, Spain is home to a vast number of immigrants, many hailing from North Africa. As I reported in one of our previous newsletters, more people emigrate to Spain than anywhere else, except the U.S. In one city alone, more than half the population is immigrants. Of these, most are Moroccan and 99% are illiterate!
So, what does that mean for two teacher-missionaries ready to go and serve? What does that mean for our partners living out the Great Commission through giving to missions?
It means WE have an incredible opportunity before us, just like the Apostle Philip. It means WE have an opportunity to be light in a dark place, to be a bold witness for Christ in a country where that light is all but a flicker. It means WE have an opportunity to teach and develop literacy, so that others can know how to read the Scriptures. It means WE have an opportunity to disciple, as Philip did with the eunuch, to help them understand Scripture. It means WE have an opportunity to join with God in bringing the good news of His Son back to a country that's been disenfranchised by the Church, yet longs for a deep void to be filled.
In Spain we will partner with veteran missionaries, Aziz and Ingrid in Talayeula, Spain. Justin can implement his passion for small business development, and my passion to care for refugees/immigrants can be fulfilled. Some of our short-term goals include learning Spanish, providing support to a small community of believers, and teaching English as a second language. One of our long-term goals is to establish an entrepreneurship training program to help young people start businesses (similar to one in SE Asia, where Justin lived and worked for a while). Youth unemployment is a global concern, and addressing Spain's significant unemployment rate, is one of the platforms they're choosing to address physical and spiritual poverty long-term. Ultimately, we want to use our skills in teaching and business to impact Spain for Christ.
The Hemmings are thrilled to be partnering with these missionaries and establishing a new field for NMSI in Spain. They hope to deploy in the fall of 2016. We are excited to see the lives that are transformed in Spain through this new ministry.