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Nations: Survey Trip to Spain

Last year the elders of North Church worked with church mission coaching group, 1615, to formulate a vision and plan for missions. We all felt the Lord leading us to Spain. The Spanish are an unreached people group with less than 6% of the population being Christian. We all felt that there was a special connection between Spain and New Mexico. So much history between two places that are so far apart. We gravitated toward the idea of taking the gospel to a place that had originally tried to bring it here to New Mexico. Over the past few months a small team at North have put together a survey trip to Spain that we will be taking October 19th-29th. We have partnered with a missions agency named Avant that has helped connect us to other missionaries already in Spain as well as helping us choose which regions to visit. We plan on visiting the regions of Galicia, Castilla Leon, and Valencia as well as visiting the Avant facilities in Andalusia. Our purpose for this survey trip is partner with others already at work in Spain, get insight into the people of Spain, and to gain clarity as to where the Lord would specifically have us send and go. We want to ask everyone at North to be praying that this trip would be fruitful and that all the members of the team going would stay healthy and be safe. 

One couple that will be going on the trip with us is Jacobo and Stepha Hernandez. They feel that the Lord is calling their family to plant a church is Spain. Jacobo has entered the beginning stages of the elder process and he and Stepha will be attending some training classes at Avant over the next couple of years to prepare to go to the mission field. Please keep them in your prayers as they go through this process. We are praying with all hope that the Lord will raise up others from North Church to partner with the Hernandez' either in going or participating in giving, praying and caring for those that are called to go. Below is an interview we did with Jacobo and Stepha.

Jacobo and Stepha Hernandez

Jacobo and Stepha Hernandez

How was moving to Spain to be on mission put on your hearts? 

In October of last year Jacobo and I were both experiencing a restlessness. Unsure of why or where this was coming from we started to talk through many areas of our life and marriage that we had neglected and/or had sinned against each other in. God was gracious to bring about confession and restoration to our marriage and individual spiritual lives. We began to explore what God was doing and pulling us towards. I brought up and idea to help with a church plant that our friends started in Portland. Jacobo immediately rejected this idea and jokingly suggested “If we uproot our family it would be to somewhere like Spain.” We talked and day dreamed of what that would look like but quickly moved on to other conversations. That Sunday Pastor Dave announced that our church's international missions field would be in Spain. We did not know if we were grasping for coincidence or if this was truly where God was calling our family. We met with our pastors and decided to purse Spain. And yes it started as vague as that. Were we supposed to go there? Were we supposed to send money there? Were we just simply to be praying for the people of Spain? We had lots of questions but to us the most evident example that God was calling us to Spain was simply that both Jacobo and myself felt called. Some of our leaders have called it divine serendipity. We have been married 7 years and are familiar with difference of opinion but this was and is different. We started to understand that this was a call to leave everything familiar, everything comfortable and stable. God has been unifying our hearts and confirming our footsteps as we pursue church planting in Spain. *Stepha also found out that through her heritage she can apply for citizenship for Spain. Spain opened its citizenship to anyone with the heritage of Sephardi Jew in October 2015, around the same time God put a desire in our hearts for Spain.*  

Once you both felt the Spirit put this on your heart, was there anything you did to confirm that calling? If so, what did that look like? 

We first began to pray together over our current lives and Spain. We sought wise counsel from our Pastors and Matthew Ellison the director of 1615. Matthew gave us an idea of what it would look like to be sent out from North as missionaries. He also gave us things to pray about and consider as we walk through God's calling. We visited with a missionary agency to educate ourselves on missionary life and church planting overseas. There is a defined process that we have submitted to with North to help confirm this call on our lives.

You have spent nearly a year in this process, who have you met with? Have you gone through any special training in preparation for a move to Spain? 

Over the past year we have met with Matthew Ellison from 1615, David Hanson and a variety of experienced missionaries from Avant, and Ken Oake from Avant stationed in Malaga, Spain via Skype. They have all given us ideas of what our mission to plant churches in Spain would look like. Every other week we get together with Pastor Jared, our missions pastor, Malory Shelton, our missions champion, and pray through the call to Spain, for the hearts of the people in Spain, and for God to provide a team here at North. During this time we have also planned out our upcoming survey trip. So far our training has been through the areas that we are currently serving the church in. For Jacobo that's Aspire, being a GC Coach, a GC Leader, and Discipleship Groups. For Stepha it's Biblical Counseling Class, being a GC Coach, and GC Leader.

What have been the most challenging aspects of this process? What have been the most rewarding, or what is it that you are most excited about? 

The most challenging aspects to date are organizing our schedules and taking it one day at a time. There are moments of terror due to feeling ill equipped, doubting God's calling, and exhaustion. Most of the time this is when I have jumped ahead and get overwhelmed. God has been faithful in these moments to remind me to slow down and trust in Him. Another aspect of difficulty is the idea of leaving our families. This is a heavy part of God's calling that we have to trust God and be obedient—even when it does not make sense to the ones we love. For both Jacobo and myself we have found so many blessings in the amount of mentors, wisdom and overall support we have had from our church body and families. Right now our excitement surrounds our survey trip in October. We are excited for God to reveal which city we will be church planting in.

How can people be praying for your family during the surveying trip? 

Please pray for our family:

  • Protection and good health for our kids while we are away.
  • Energy and Strength for my parents who will be with our 3 kids
  • Stepha has not left the kids before, pray against anxiety and that she will trust God 
  • Team members' spouses and families they are leaving behind

Please pray for the survey trip:

  • Safe traveling for our team
  • God would reveal the city we are called to
  • Good health for all of our team members 
  • For our team to be an encouragement to the already existing missionaries in country
  • Gathering info for North to be informed 
  • God would soften hearts of anyone we come into contact with.