So, I felt like writing something for my blog again. It’s been way too long! I intended to Twitter and also this blog… but in practice that turns out to be difficult. The main reason is that a journey like this is full of surprises. And sometimes it takes so completely unexpected turns that you don’t really know how to write it down. Or when you can find time for it.
Well, now I have some time again.
If you are reading this blog for the first time: we are in Spain and to read the history I advise you to read these previous posts first:
It goes well!
Let me start by saying that we are doing very well! We see God working and we are very happy that we have started this venture. But that wasn’t easy from the start. I still remember the day we left. That was April 5. The days before we had been busy preparing the camper, which my brother Johan had allowed us to borrow, for departure. That was quite a challenge! Especially because there was quite a bit of leakage in the camper. With the help of my father-in-law I managed to close all the holes in the roof.
But when I looked in the camper the day of departure, water was again leaking through the roof!
In addition, the weather forecasts were extremely bad. Snow and cold were expected. I also didn’t trust the stove completely, because sometimes it worked… sometimes it didn’t. Aaargh… this didn’t feel right! With six in a four-person camper in these conditions…
At that time I would have liked to have pulled the plug on the company. But there really wasn’t a way back.
The tenants arrived… but we didn’t feel so ready for this trip. As Evelyn and I drove off, we looked at each other and I said, We seem crazy doing this. Because we didn’t even know where our next stop would be. Furthermore, there are all kinds of Covid restrictions that we were constantly reminded of by people. We decided not to know too much about all the regulations. God called us to go through Europe whether it is locked or not. But we had prepared very little for this whole trip. All we had was this calling in our hearts, this rest, which you can hardly explain to anyone. When we left, we made quite a few social mistakes: not (properly) said goodbye to acquaintances, such as neighbours.. perhaps mainly because we simply cannot explain what kind of company this is and our own insecurities about it.
It’s easy to say to people: we’re going to work for an organization in Spain. Or something like that. But the real story is: God is calling us away from our home, to pass through Europe and light fires… or something. No planning, no budget. Very little experience in this area. But luckily we wouldn’t go alone. We go together with friends, at least in the beginning. Most importantly, Jesus is with us! (Mat 28:20 ).
From experience I also know that God wants us there. Where we are completely dependent on Him. Because if He doesn’t do anything… it will be nothing! But if we take risks, take steps of faith, you’re going to see God work.
A few photos from this first week…
Ourense – the sequel
The last time I wrote about our first real stop in Ourense (see map below). A lot has happened there in a week! Several people received the Holy Spirit and people confessed their sins. Sometimes very violent things! And Jesus set them free!
One person from that church wanted to see more of God in his life. He saw that his life was nothing like what the Bible says. He really wanted to follow Jesus like the early disciples did. He asked God for a sign. Or maybe he could travel with us, and leave everything behind. Just like Jesus’ followers left everything behind . Annemarie didn’t know this, but asked him a simple question: what if Jesus asked you to be just like Peter (the fisherman) to leave your nets to follow Him ?
That was the sign he had asked for! He – his name is Rodrigo – decided to come with us. He quit his job and after a few weeks he traveled after us! And he is now with us and an asset to our team!
We hear very good stories from Ourense. The people have started doing the things we showed them themselves and they are seeing the same results! A boy from the youth group of the Church has begun to prophesy and the group is changing. This boy is taking to the streets and is now passing on words from God to people he meets! Very special. The people there now also pray for receiving the Holy Spirit and others also have received the Spirit and people have been baptized. Also, this church has now officially decided to do things differently with baptism. Just a few times a year at set times, but people baptize as soon as they repent, in line with the Bible.
Changes in the group
After this wonderful time, we decided as a group to stay at the campsite for a few days, to rest and prepare for the next steps. In that period Abraham and Annemarie decided to go back to Switzerland (after visiting some other places in Spain) and Andre went back to Ourense to further strengthen the work that had started. This was not an easy time and this was the biggest surprise, that we would now have to move forward in this much smaller group. Yet I had peace of mind about this, God was in this situation.
So at that point our group consisted of our family plus Caleb and Katherine.
When we first arrived in Spain, Katherine received an invitation to visit a couple of friends in Portugal. We were able to come as a group and park the camper in front of their door. It was good that the group was a bit smaller in the meantime, because their house turned out not to be that big.
When we got there it turned out that this couple was very cool with each other. It soon became clear that they were planning to divorce and the woman was already looking for another home!
We talked to both. Although they both went to church, it turned out that they did not understand the gospel properly. That’s the danger of being a ‘churchgoer’ – you think you get it all and you think everything is right between you and God.
The woman was not baptized and after explaining the gospel to her, she was baptized in the river confessing her sins to God and her to husband. She then received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues! A completely new beginning for her!
With the man, the story was more complicated. He thought he was already a Christian and all was well with him. That it was mostly her fault. He had already been baptized, but when we listened to his story it turned out that that baptism did not mean much to him. He did not understand at that moment that he was a sinner who had to wash off sins to put on Christ, to become one with Jesus’ death and resurrection. At that time he was troubled by demons and people prayed for him for deliverance. Since he would be traveling for a long time afterwards, it seemed wise for them to be baptized so that the demons would not return. That had little to do with repentance and being born again.
After a number of conversations he began to see how he himself stood guilty before God and he confessed his sins to God with tears. Then we baptized him. When he came out of the water and we prayed for him an evil laugh came out of his mouth and came a lot of screaming from him . A few people on the side looked surprised at what was going on. “Oh, someone is being baptized.” ‘This is more like exorcism’ was the answer :). Indeed, demons resisted one last time and he became free and began to speak in tongues. How beautiful! Their marriage is now restored, for God has stepped into the situation.
We have been there for about a week and several other things have happened. Likewise, the mother who lives with them is also baptized in water and with the Spirit. Also, several people healed. Simple prayers just in that small kitchen of that apartment… but with a huge effect. A problem with the vertebrae lifted and a few other things that I don’t remember right now. We haven’t been to their church, but these stories have been circulated there and have caused quite a stir!
We already felt very strong as a team because of this. Because the small group we went with were not the most experienced and confident people, quite insecure. Yet God has also been able to use us. And that’s how you get experience, you learn these things by doing them. You cannot learn them by just reading the Bible. You have to do the things in it too!
I always think, if God can use me for things like that, he can use anyone. The secret is: being available, freeing up time, taking risks, praying… in short: believing in Jesus’ words! Then God goes to work and our life becomes more like Jesus’ life.
Sent away from Cáceres
After Portugal we left for Cáceres, Spain. Here lives the contact person we have had in Spain from the beginning and who opened the door to Ourense for us. She knows several people she has shared the gospel with and she wanted us to meet them. Also churches in the area were aware of our arrival because of the stories they heard from Ourense and they seemed enthusiastic about this…
When we first got there, Katherine and Caleb went to visit a lady (Sandra) and her mother. Sandra is a friend of our contact person (Susanna). The mother suffered from a hernia. After prayer, the pain disappeared from her back! A great miracle for them, because it bothered her a lot. Sandra was known to have heard the gospel before and wanted to be baptized. They prayed for Sandra—I’m not exactly sure why—but something unexpected happened. The Holy Spirit came upon her and she began to speak loudly in tongues! They continued to talk about baptism, which they wanted so badly. A day later we went to her house again (now I was there myself) and she was baptized in her bath. There are also other beautiful things happening there. I made a video of it and we shared it… and then the opposition started!
The video.. sorry, not with subtitles yet…
Earlier we had heard that the pastors of the local church did not want to baptize her because she lived with her boyfriend and was not married. But when the Holy Spirit came upon her like this, it was clear to us: who could object to her baptism? ? A bit like in the story of Cornelius in the Bible . We did what we always do and as it says in the Bible. In the Bible you read that people were baptized immediately after their conversion. It is part of the new birth that Jesus is talking about. Becoming one with Christ’s death and resurrection.
But this baptism outside the church turned out to be a problem.
As a group we stayed at two different locations. But the pastor had us sent out of both places. They saw it as rebellious behavior to pass them by (the reality, however, is that we have a different view of baptism). The man Caleb was staying with apologized when Caleb left – it wasn’t personal, he said. Our contact person also had no other choice. We also heard that the pastor has warned all churches in the villages and towns in the area for us. We would be a cult and not want to work with churches.
But then something special happened. While we were hearing that news, at the table in Susanna’s house, a message came in from a pastor from Mérida, a town south of Cáceres. He had invited us before, but that was before the warning of the pastor from Cáceres. He said: We heard what happened in Ourense. And we’ve been praying lately for a move of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we have had the warning too, but you are still welcome in our church tomorrow! Goosebumps!
So we descended further south to Mérida. A place with a special history. Once the capital of Hispania, a province of the Roman Empire. And because of that, it is full of Roman bridges, aqueducts, forums and temples. I find all these things very interesting. Also because these are buildings from the time of Jesus. This city was founded around the year of Jesus’ birth by Emperor Augustus. A great opportunity to give some history lessons to the kids.
We entered the small church and after a fairly short sermon we were asked to come forward. Caleb and I had agreed that we would tell something, including about what happened in Ourense. We hadn’t talked to the pastor beforehand and we didn’t really know exactly what the intention was. When we were asked to come forward I looked back at Caleb, but he was nowhere to be seen! Great, haha. I still find it exciting to stand in front of a group, but well, I just have to trust that God will lead it.
So then I stood there alone and shared a bit about my own life and how God has worked. Caleb joined me later and then I asked who needs prayer. A man came forward and he wanted to receive the Holy Ghost. The room was dead silent and I found it quite uncomfortable to pray for this man and for all those people. Especially because we couldn’t give any further explanation in advance, as is the case with a kickstart weekend. Katherine and I prayed softly for this man and after some time he fell to his knees praying loudly in tongues and wept for joy at what God had just done. After that, several other things happened – more people received the Holy Spirit, some healing. Awesome! God did it again!
The following week we gave a kickstart weekend to a small group of this church. We took some out into the streets to pray for the sick and especially to show them that they can do these things themselves. I had two young ladies with me and through their hands God did different things! Also something else special happened, something I only heard 2 weeks later – I hope to write about that next time.
Meanwhile got Caleb asking from Portugal if we could return as a group. The couple whose marriage has been restored knows another couple who also need the gospel. And they asked if we wanted to help with this. God made it clear that as a group we would have to travel south towards Málaga, but that Caleb would return to Portugal.
This morning we said goodbye to Caleb. Rodrigo is currently taking him to Portugal, about 5 hours away. Tomorrow Rodrigo will come back to us and the day after tomorrow we leave for Málaga for the next adventure.
Aaargh, I can’t speak Spanish!
We have experienced a number of other beautiful things. I myself am very encouraged that God uses me, even though I do not know the language. We have been on the street a number of times, where Katherine mainly did the talking and I was a little bit watching. That feels pretty useless. But then we ran into a boy who had lost his gold ring. He was busy searching and Katherine and I decided to help. I just knew I was going to find the ring. We searched quite long. Then we gave up and Katherine shared the gospel with him. Then he left – it was already dark by then. Convinced that I would find the ring, I searched for about 1 minute more. And there I found the gold ring in the sand! But we had no records of this boy. So we put up a note with our details. A few hours later, around midnight, we suddenly received a message. It belonged to the boy and he was overjoyed that we found his ring! This way we got in touch with him again and we could share more with him the next day.
Or that time I was lost in a conversation on the street listening to Katherine’s incomprehensible Spanish sharing the gospel with a group of youth. But then suddenly a name popped into my head: Florence . So I share that name with Katherine and she asks the group if anyone knows the name ‘Florence’ or ‘Florian’. No, nobody knows him. But at the very end of a wonderful evening with many healings, something special happens. Out of nowhere comes a boy who has just had knee surgery and is still in a lot of pain. He had heard from friends what was happening through our hands on the street and he asked for prayer. We prayed and the pain went away. He was stunned and shouted loudly, “What is this!? Wow!” He said, “I don’t think this meeting is a coincidence, it must be so!” Indeed, we had come to this village at the direction of God, an hour from Mérida. And we shared that with him. Then he was even more impressed. But when he Florence turned out to be present (or more precisely ‘Florene’ de Romanian variant of that name, which turned out to be from Romania) the surprise was complete with us too! This is also a new experience for us!
As I wrote before, we are doing well. We have been to many places in the meantime and we are all having a great time. The children have fun and nobody misses life in the Netherlands. Fortunately, because I was a bit afraid that they might get bored. We have been to many fantastic places, by the ocean, in warm thermal baths, eaten delicious local food. The children could regularly play with other children. We swam and enjoyed the beautiful weather. At the same time it is sometimes uncomfortable with flying, heat, limited space, problems with the camper or car, large and small conflicts in the group, indecision about where the next stop will be… but we wouldn’t want to miss all of this for the world. Such a journey with God is very beautiful and instructive and the best thing is that your work is doing what really matters. Where people’s lives are changed forever and history is made. You are part of major events in people’s lives.
Spain needs Jesus and yesterday we realized that this is one of the few countries in Europe where there has never been any revival. Luther’s Reformation never came here and there never seems to have been a movement of the Spirit in the history of Spain. I believe we can make a difference here! Yesterday I spoke to a man from the church here in Mérida about what God was doing in the street and he was really amazed. “These things don’t actually happen in Spain. Spaniards are not open.” I told him that Jesus says something else: “ The harvest is great, there are too few workers “. We must enter the harvest to reap it. And that has to be worked for. Do you want to join? Contact us…
Well that’s it for now! Until next time!