Call from Spain
By A. Ray Lee
This past week I received a telephone call from dear friends Peré and Maria in Spain. We met them in 1997 when Effie and I made our first visit to Sabadell, a city located near Barcelona.
Hearing from them reminded me of another call – the one from the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions asking whether Effie and I would be available to fulfill a request received from El Iglesia de Creu Alta in Sabadell.
The Alabama Baptist Convention had recently entered into a partnership with Spanish Baptist churches, but the first event of cooperation had been planned for much later in the year. The church had asked for someone to come as soon as possible and minister with them. Because of Effie’s knowledge of the Spanish language and culture and the fact that she could serve as translator, we were being asked to fulfill the request.
Although not knowing exactly the nature of the ministry in which we would be involved, we accepted the challenge. We made arrangements and were soon on our way.
When we arrived in Spain, Peré, Jesús and Lorenzo met us at the airport and took us to the Hotel Urpí, where we would spend a few hours each night after being busy all day ministering in church activities and homes. On all later visits we would be hosted in the home of Teo, who until this day is like a member of our family.
Peré and Maria played a prominent role in facilitating our activities and hosted us on several occasions. They were one of several couples and individuals who endeared themselves to us.
I must confess even though I was sure it was in the Lord’s will we go, I was not without a great deal of apprehension over the type of ministry awaiting us. I soon discovered I should not have worried. God calls us into ministries that are enhanced by our gifting. Ours would be a ministry of encouragement.
For two very busy weeks we visited with many families, met with church leaders and shared in home meetings and groups. I taught a class on discipleship for several nights and preached in worship services.
Effie led sessions with women’s groups and spoke to the youth. Her linguistic knowledge and ability to translate greatly added to the success of our visit. She became my Aaron, and on occasion, when necessary, she spoke for me. From the first day she was embraced and loved. Much of the success of the mission was due to her.
In time what I had seen as a single mission would expand to a total of 10 trips over 15 years. Our ministry in Spain would advance in a series of incremental steps, with each new step building upon those already taken. In time, a church partnership would be formed, through which the ministry of both churches would be blessed – and deep personal friendships like that I share with Peré and Maria continue to this day.