Hola Friends, Family, and Partners in the Gospel!
We’ve had a ton going on in our lives the past few weeks! Of course there has been transition, moving, and traveling, but there have also been some big decisions made about our future and timeline to returning to Europe
About a month ago we asked for Christian Associates leadership to pray about allowing us to move to Barcelona sooner rather than later. Specifically because we feel like getting there sooner will help us maximize the contacts that we have made and because after 19 months of transition we need to be settled. After prayer and fasting over this, the leadership team in Europe decided that we could make this move when we proposed. All of us agreed that there is a much greater need for accountability for us in this situation due to us not having a team living there with us immediately. This accountability will entail:
-Weekly Skype calls with Troy, the team leader in Madrid
-Monthly Skype calls with Phil, co-leader of the Advancement Team in Europe and friend in Amsterdam
To say the least, we’re really excited about moving to Barcelona! We’ve felt for a long time now that we would someday call Barcelona home and that God would use us there to help establish His Kingdom…It’s amazing to see that this is becoming a reality, yet how it is all happening in God’s timing. I can say with 100% certainty that the life lessons, ministry lessons, and season of seeking that we’ve been in have all prepared us in significant ways to bring us to this point.
Speaking of God’s Timing….
The biggest contingency in our move to Barcelona has been getting our visas. Our original plan was to apply for our visas in February, move to Barcelona in March, and return to the US to pick up our visas, and then return to Barcelona as true ‘residents’. So we gathered all the paperwork necessary to apply for our visas, but we were still waiting on a letter from the Spanish government in Madrid approving us to apply as religious workers, invited by a Christian Associates church there.
When Jen’s letter arrived at Troy’s in Madrid in early February, I thought that we would certainly be able to apply. But for some reason, mine and Maisie’s letter has still not come in. Because we didn’t get this letter we weren’t able to apply. There was a part of us that was really disappointed. We obviously really (really really) want to be in Barcelona and establish life and ministry there! But not having this prevents us from moving there like we had planned.
After the disappointment subsided, we saw how this could be God’s way of giving us more time to do four important things before we move:
-Continue to recruit people to join us in Barcelona
-Continue learning Spanish so that our transition isn’t more difficult than it will be already
-Continue raising support so that we can be certain that we’ll have what we need to get settled when we arrive.
-Get our visas so that we can legally live there!
As we’ve been processing this change in our timeline, a few things have been impressed on us.
One is that I’ve realized that there are two things (maybe more) that one shouldn’t rush into: marriage and church planting! Our desire to move to Barcelona in March was very ambitious. And now that our timeline has been divinely interrupted (we believe) we can see how waiting and preparing a bit more is a wiser decision.
When we were driving from Oregon to California a few weeks ago, we got caught in two snow storms. It was easily the worst weather I’ve ever driven in. It’s in times like those that how fast you get to the destination doesn’t matter much. Getting to the destination at all takes center stage! I kept telling myself while doing 25mph in driving snow, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Without over-spiritualizing in the least bit, this is the motto that I want to live by as a church planter. Advancing the Kingdom of God against an enemy that desperately wants us to fail is not a decision to be made solely because of ambition or even desperately wanting to be settled!
Here’s the new timeline that we’re looking at in light of this:
February 28: Depart for three week visit to Europe
March 1-8: Leadership Conference in Lisbon, Portugal
March 9-14: Research Trip to Barcelona with other Christian Associates church-planters and regional CA partners
March 14-18: Our family will stay in Barcelona for a few extra days to further research where we’ll live.
Mid March-July: Apply for visas in Los Angeles and continue to prepare in the ways above
Keeping the big picture in mind, waiting a few more months isn’t that big of deal. Especially if the trade-off is being more prepared!
While we’re waiting for our visas in LA we plan to:
-Develop more church partnerships for our church-plant
-Raise 1000 dollars more in monthly support
-Visit existing supporters (have the gathering in Sacramento that we previously promised!)
-Spend 5-10 hours a week studying Spanish
–Continue to recruit for a team…we would hope to have at least one couple attend CA’s interview process in June
-And love our neighbors as best as we can!
Please pray for our upcoming research trip. The dates we’ll be in Barcelona are March 9-14. We’ll be with a team of 7 or 8 people from Christian Associates. We have a few specific objectives:
-Meet with Church leaders and gain further insight as to what is going on in Barcelona already
-Observe tangible needs that our church and our partners could meet
-Further research a neighborhood for us to live in where we’ll start our work
-Give partnering supporters on this trip a first-hand look at the needs, spiritual climate, and culture of Barcelona.
During this time Christian Associates will also have research teams in Valencia, Spain and Montpelier, France. Please lift all of us up in prayer as we discern how we can best instigate God’s kingdom in these places. Pray for me (Justin) as I lead our time in Barcelona. Pray that we’ll be sensitive to God’s leading and that we’ll be surprised by the doors God opens!
This email is way over 1000 words…so I’ll bring it to a close. As normal, I want to express our gratitude to all of you for your prayers and financial support. Thank you really never seems like enough! We are grateful for your passion for the Kingdom’s growth in Europe and your belief in God’s work in and through us.
We look forward to sharing new stories from Barcelona in our next update! Talk to you soon!
To end the blog version differently…
I’m really looking forward to having new stories to talk about! My life has been so full of doing small, but large…boring, yet important details that I’ve really not had time for or inspired to do: music, photography, and writing…this has got to change!!! And it will. So here’s to being back in Europe for a bit breathing life back into me!