Spain is suffering its second recession in three years. One in four workers are jobless. Unemployment checks are running out. Spaniards are stuck with mortgages they cannot pay and homes that won’t sell. For many, there is hardly money to put food on their tables. And there is little relief in sight.
Spain’s austerity measures meant to rein in its debt have resulted in increased discontent among the people, and demonstrations against the government are commonplace. The unrest is indicative that desperation is setting in. Shantytowns populated primarily by immigrants are being bulldozed down, and families clinging to a barely definable subsistence are left scrounging for a place to sleep. Immigrants who came to Spain hopeful of finding work to provide for their families back home are fleeing in droves. Are these just problems experienced by the masses on which we can only hope to put a Band-Aid? Or do they affect us in our comfortable world? Is my heart broken by the personal stories of suffering? Or has it become too easy to turn off the television and focus on my agenda for the day, oblivious to all else?
As I’ve gone deeper in redemptive relationships with Spanish friends, I’m more aware of their heartaches, needs, and misconceptions about God. I’ve become more invested in sharing the blessed hope that we have in Jesus Christ. “The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed,” says Chuck Colson. “Our hope is in the power of God working in the hearts of people. That’s where hope is in life.”
One thing that gives me hope is my weekly meeting in a coffee shop with women who want to grow in their knowledge of God and in their understanding of His Word. Together, we discuss the “stuff” of life and how we are doing in our journeys of faith. One – a new believer, though lifelong seeker, is experiencing wonder at the love of a God who redeems everything; the other – a follower of Christ, lost her first love a long time ago, and after a lifetime of regrets, is taking baby steps back to the Savior. Both are wrestling through some very tough life issues. How blessed I feel to be able to love, comfort, and challenge them as they experience the reality of becoming like Christ. I’m amazed every time God gives me words to share that are appropriate for the needs of each one. Following a dark year of personal challenges and change, I am aware of my greater capacity to love and to live out the grace I’ve received. “Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit...apart from me you can do nothing.... By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” –John 15:2-8. Though pruning is painful, it produces in us and through us a harvest of righteousness! Isn’t God great?!
-Written by a worker in Spain
-Photos provided by worker