The people of Spain are “really tired of hearing about Christ. ... They need to see real love, real love through real people,” Pastor Antonio Calero Cerrado boldly proclaimed.
Pastor Cerrado heads an outreach ministry of Iglesia Evangelica Bautista La Trinidad in Denia, Spain. He and Pastor Jorge Pastor have co-led the thriving church, averaging 400 in attendance in week, at a Baptist campground for the past 40 years.
Both pastors highlighted the difficulty of evangelism in Spain. The church history is wrought with persecution, dwindling numbers, and community disdain. Despite the barriers, the Lord has answered their prayers and radically transformed many lives and relationships.
Now one of the largest Protestant churches in Spain, Iglesia Evangelica Bautista houses the only private, evangelical school in the nation. It serves 400 children and a campsite for visitors and volunteers from all over the world.
The church also engages in a variety of forms of outreach. The community ministry, called Extiende tu Mano (Stretch out your Hand), is in the heart of the city and provides wraparound services to individuals and families in the community, including counseling, legal services, addiction recovery programs, food and clothing assistance in a variety of forms. Texas Baptist Hunger Offering funds help support this work.
Extiende tu Mano provides lunch Monday through Friday for 30-40 men and women who are experiencing hardship, many of whom are homeless. Volunteers from the church faithfully cook, serve, and clean. Texas Baptist Hunger Offering funds help support this work.
Even more impressive is the culture of dignity undergirding the operation. Volunteers and leaders alike emphasize the importance of honoring and protecting each person’s self-respect as they receive assistance.
“They treat us as people,” said Juan Jose Alcala, a regular lunch attender. “Outside on the street, they treat us really badly. Here they treat us with love.”
The church stands as a light in the community and strives to exude genuine love to all those they encounter. As I reminisce on the conversations and people I met, I cannot help but think of Romans 12:9-13:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers (NRSV).
May we continue to support our brothers and sisters faithfully ministering across the world. May our love be genuine.
Iglesia Evangelica Bautista La Trinidad is a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering recipient and a Texas Baptist Missions Partner. Join us in supporting Iglesia Bautista La Trinidad and 193 other ministries during the upcoming 5th Sunday Hunger Offering on July 31. Click here to read about another #HungerOffering recipient in Barcelona, Spain.