Vision for Burgos
Burgos is located in the northern region of Spain called Castile. It is one of the largest regions in Spain. Castile has had three different capitals throughout its history, Leon, Valladolid and Burgos. Castile was well known in history of reconquering Iberia from the Moors. Their desire was to purge the land of the Moors and their beliefs and reestablish “Christianity” (Roman Catholicism). This region and the city of Burgos in particular became a hub for the Inquisition. The Inquisition was a government's sanction of institutions that would help force out any type of religious heresy. It helped create a fearful and destructive relationship between the government and religion. People practiced Catholicism with fear and little knowledge of the Bible. The Catholic church would not allow anyone to read a Bible on their own so to create a dependency for moral and spiritual direction solely on the Catholic church. These practices have taken root over years and have become a hurdle for ministry in this region. In the past Burgos has been known as the “Missionary Graveyard”. The Catholic era has begun to fade through time and through “religious freedom” a new generation has been born. This generation is fearful of anything looking like religion. The magnificent cathedrals and buildings have become reminders of religious oppression. Children are told to obey tradition and live morally but to live free of any obligation to God. Their picture of God is as a dictator and Jesus is still left on a cross. There is no pure concept of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection. Spaniards in Burgos and throughout Spain do not live with the hope found in Jesus. They live with a “carpe diem” attitude. We were told that Spaniards are masters of celebration. They know how to live and celebrate in the moment. But we know that this type of joy fades and leaves us empty. The happiness, hope and joy of a moment is passing . We were also told that Spaniards were friendly and engaging but at arm's length. Intimacy of a deep relationship is reserved only for family, if that. It takes time and commitment to develop a deep relationship. Through the years past we believe that God has been at work throughout Spain and the city of Burgos. And that willing workers have sowed seeds of the gospel.. Our prayer is for the harvest and to see the Spaniards in Burgos and throughout Spain awakened to the hope that is in Jesus.
Why North Church and the Hernandez’?
About two years ago our church went through a year of training with an organization called 1615. The goal of this training was to equip the church to be missional in its region and to the nations. Through this they decided to go back through the history of New Mexico and understand how religion was brought here. One of the many things revealed in this research was Spain’s role in bringing “christianity” or Catholicism to New Mexico. After looking into the state of Spain and developing contacts to help us better understand the religious background of the Spaniards we came to find out that Spain is 1.5% Evangelical and Spaniards are less than 1% Evangelical. Through prayer and God’s direction our church made the decision to pursue missions in Spain.
During this time that our church was being trained, my husband and myself were going through our own “training” if you will . We both began to feel an unrest unknowingly to each other. As we started to wrestle with our different feelings, through conflict and discussion we began to realize that their was a shared unrest. Not really knowing where this was originating we decided to go through counseling to better communicate with each other and hoped we would find direction. One day I saw a friends message stating that they would be starting a church in Portland, Oregon. I thought to myself, “This is the direction!” When Jacobo came home I told him about moving to help with the planting of this new church in Portland. Waiting for him to jump on board I wasn’t prepared for his answer. He said, “NO WAY! If we ever uproot our family it will be somewhere cultured, somewhere with history …. somewhere like Spain.” I told him he was crazy and we moved on not giving it a second thought. A few weeks later we were listening to announcements in church. Our pastor said they had an exciting announcement about where they felt called to do international missions….Spain! Jacobo and I just looked at each other as if to say”Spain… Us?” This was a coincidence right? But why was I crying? Our immediate response to this announcement was emotion and doubt. Could this be the direction God was calling us? It can’t be we are two little New Mexicans who have barely even left our own state. As the weeks went on we couldn’t get Spain off of our hearts or minds so we set up a few meetings with our Pastors. In those meetings we were prayed for and took steps toward pursuing Spain and continued to ask God to confirm this as His calling on our lives. Jacobo and I felt excited and to be honest scared. But one thing that was a huge confirmation and continues to be is that God called us together. We at this point had been married six years and were not strangers to not seeing eye to eye but in this we felt bonded and called together. Also during this time Spain opened its door to anyone with a Sephardic Jewish heritage. During the Inquisition the Sephardic Jews were dispelled or killed in Spain. To make amends years later, Spain would grant anyone that could prove this heritage citizenship. Little did I know a family member had done years of research and our family had this heritage but not only that our ancestor was from Burgos, Spain. We continued pursuing and trying to understand what God was calling us to and decided to go on a survey trip through Spain. This trip was another confirmation of His calling for us in Spain. It ignited a passion in us and our church to reach Spaniards. We got to see first hand the truly magnificent and empty cathedrals. And talk to missionaries already at work who were asking for God to provide more workers. We experienced loss and the difficulty of being away from family on this trip. We went away knowing that our trust belongs to God because He is the one truly in control of our futures. Although it is hard we are overwhelmed with the amazing support and encouragement we get from our families and friends. We recently went through training in Kansas City and had the opportunity to meet many missionaries who poured into us helped us look ahead to what we will experience as missionaries in Spain. God continually provide us with the reassurance of His call on our lives.
Vision for Burgos
We feel that God is calling us to plant a Christ Centered, Nationally Led, Church Planting Church in Burgos. God has guided us towards this vision a few different ways. This church plant is to be an expression of the vision and mission of our sending church (North) which are “To see Jesus preeminent in everything” and “Growing together as disciples and going together to make disciples of neighbors and nations”. As God called us to the fulfillment of this vision in making disciples in Spain he also steered us to the missions agency Avant whose vision it is to “To make a difference in time for eternity by rapidly planting and developing churches where none exist.”. By prayer, consideration and conversations with pastors and leaders of these trusted organizations we have arrived at our vision. Let me go into some detail regarding the three foundational characteristics found in the vision.
The basic definition of this is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the central truth that drives all of Christianity. As Christians we believe that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God himself to the world and that all of scripture is pointing to Him. We also know from this that the Christian life and all Christian activities are to find their motivation, power and fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus. This means that not only is the Gospel the means of our salvation but it is the power by which we are conformed to the image of Christ in sanctification, it is our motivation for missions, it is the central foundation on which our community gatherings sit, it is the reason for our marriages and the principal by which we parent. Our hope is in Jesus and nothing or no one else. Unfortunately it is too easy and too common for people (including myself) to lose sight of this unless we are dogmatic and explicit in our pursuit of clinging to it. Thus it must be stated that the Gospel has to be the center of everything Christian.
A core conviction of Avant that is rooted in biblical example is that a church is healthiest when it is led by locals. A church that is reliant on missionary leadership will have its growth stunted and be stuck in a stage of infancy. This does not mean that our team will haphazardly abandon a struggling church that is not ready but will rather be continuously praying and observing to understand when the nationals are ready to assume as much responsibility as possible. The phrase I have heard used to describe this strategy is “do only, what only you can do”. It will be our pursuit from the outset to be looking for, encouraging, and developing local leaders who will one day be the elders, deacons, and ministry leaders of this church.
At the core of what we are doing is the desire to see disciples of Jesus worshipping him throughout Spain. The disciple making engine that is seen throughout the New Testament is the local church. This drives our desire to plant a church in Burgos in fulfillment of the great commission and for this effort to be more than an end in and of itself but rather a means towards fulfilling the great commission the church will need to be multiplying, that is church planting. I am overjoyed when I think of the sending out church planters to cities and pueblos throughout Castile y Leon and beyond making Spanish disciples and reaching beyond to other areas of the globe that desperately need to hear of the good news of Jesus. To this end we are also seeking a partnership with another organization Acts 29 which is a global church planting network that has a growing presence in Europe.