Spain: What We Learned, What God Showed Us, How We Move Forward
*The following is an interview with Stepha and Jacobo Hernandez, who recently went to Spain on a survey trip to assess where God is calling North to plant a church.*
Overall, would you count the survey trip to Spain as a success?
Yes! Jacobo and I were extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to survey, with a small team from North Church, 4 potential cities in Spain. We finally got to experience and understand so much of what we had heard and researched over the past year. Spain became very real to us. Our prayer throughout the survey trip was that God would open our eyes to the spiritual needs of Spaniards, that He would break our hearts and give us the desire to share His gospel there, and that He would reveal a city where we could begin His work. After many team conversations and many different meetings with active ministry leaders in Spain, we are excited and encouraged that God was faithful to answer all of these requests. We were given a sense of the incredible need for the gospel and an overwhelming urgency to share it. We are so grateful for this experience and want to thank you all for your support and prayers for our team. We are also extremely excited to share our experience with you all and pray that God would help North Church understand the mission for spreading the gospel in Spain.
It has been about a month since you both have been home. What has the biggest takeaway from the trip been now that you have had time to process?
The biggest take away for the both Jacobo and me has been the many different ways the Lord has continued to confirm this calling in our lives. The Sunday before we left we sat down with Matthew Ellison, and he prayed over us. He prayed that God would break our hearts for the people of Spain and that God would reveal himself to us and confirm His call for us to church plant there. While in Spain God did all of these things!
First God really worked on a personal level with both Jacobo and me. We relied heavily on Jacobo for his ability to communicate with his limited Spanish vocabulary. God used him so much, and it was exciting to see him thrive in a culture that was new to him. Being around a different language can be intimidating, but Jacobo seemed to jump right in and gain more and more confidence as the trip went on.
Secondly we learned the importance of having a team! We all went in not knowing each other very well and now have built incredible relationships and bonds. God was faithful to work through each of us. Through conversation and prayer, we were able to arrive at answers to some very important questions together. I personally experienced a very difficult situation. My family back home experienced a devastating loss. It was hard to understand and deal with while being away, but I was blessed with the leadership of Jacobo and the comfort, advice, and prayer of my teammates. This illuminated my need to trust that God is continuing to take care of my loved ones while I am away. We are using the experience of our team to guide our prayers, and we ask that the Lord raises up people from within North to be a part of our long term team and home team to help with this mission.
Lastly God was faithful to reveal where He wanted us. Going into the trip we were not sure what God’s confirmation of the city would look like, but through different conversations and the experiences of our team, we feel that God did give us the city to continue His work in.
The question that everyone has been waiting for—do you have a sense of where the Lord is calling the team?
Yes! We are excited to finally know a specific place that God is calling our team: Burgos, Spain!
Give us a few bullet points on your impressions of Burgos as a city.
- Stunning architecture, particularly the gothic cathedral
- Delicious food
- Rich history and deep culture
- It is the heartland of Spain
- The people are reserved, sophisticated, and proud
- The current generation is Catholic only in name and by a few rites, and they are instinctively wary of organized religion
- People are initially friendly and helpful when approached, but developing deep relationships requires building trust over time
- God is at work—several missionaries and pastors testified to people coming to true faith, and they also encouraged and welcomed fellow gospel workers
What is the most important thing you want to communicate to the rest of North at this time?
Burgos, Spain is a city that is rich in culture and tradition, and beautiful in landscape and design. There are no real physical needs in Burgos. The need goes much deeper. The Jesus they may know is associated with a dictatorship and oppression. Most of the young people are raised to be moral and obey tradition but to be free of the oppression of religion and "a god that demands things of you.” We are not going to meet a physical need of an impoverished people group. We are going into a well-established city whose occupants do not know and have not accepted the gift of salvation. We are going to establish relationships, and as God works the gospel through our own lives we hope to share it with the people of Burgos and have it affect their hearts. This is a long haul. Our desire is to do God’s work in His timing and not ours. We are not going with the mindset of how many conversions can we get in a year or two. We are not in it for numbers but for a true effect of the gospel. We have been told by many of the native pastors and missionaries that the ground is hard. Therefore it requires willing sowers and planters. We want to be faithful to plant seeds in Burgos, and our prayer is that the harvest would be plentiful and that it would spread throughout Spain.