Dear Praying Friends,
We have just returned from our two and a half month furlough/deputation/home assignment so I think it is about time I sat down and wrote a prayer letter. Also I realised while we were in England that the last quarterly prayer letter that we sent out was back in January! – not good enough – I am very sorry and will try very hard not to let it happen again.
What I want to do in this prayer letter is simply to summarise the activity of the spring, than talk a bit about the summer, and finally to share some of our hopes and plans for the coming months.
Tania finally finished her treatment in the second half of March and slowly regained her strength (and hair!) over the subsequent months. She has felt so much better over the summer that we are sure that the illness has gone – although the doctors will be doing a scan later in September and the results of that will show what the state of the disease is.
The end of the treatment meant that I could get back into the work of the churches full time, just in time for a very busy Easter period. I preached two or three times every Sunday, lead Bible studies in Santisteban and Aldeahermosa every week and began meeting with the young people in Aldea once a month. I also had the privilege of going through the course on preaching with Antonio, one of the deacons at Aldea.
The emphasis of my preaching has been the purposes of the church. What I have been trying to do is encourage all the church members to think about the aims of the church and their own role in fulfilling those aims.
We hosted a day conference organised by the Mission here in Santisteban in the middle of June dealing with the subject of church membership, which was a useful day, although quite poorly attended.
By the end of June when we drove to Santander to catch the ferry to Plymouth to start deputation we were in need of a break!
Our first experience of deputation was overall a good one.
We had a week’s holiday in Devon to unwind, two weeks renewing fellowship with our home church at Great Ellingham in Norfolk, and then later on we were able to attend the Evangelical Movement of Wales’ conference in Aberystwyth.
But, for me, the highlight was the opportunity to meet believers – some known to us before but others completely new to us – and to share with them about the work we are doing. It was a delight to visit small churches and larger ones and to experience the prayerful interest and support that there is among the believers in the UK. We visited churches in the east and south of England, we also were able to go to a youth camp organised by the Grace Baptist Mission, and of course the Pray for Spain weekend at the beginning of September – at all these places we were blessed and encouraged by the fellowship of our brothers and sisters who support us so well.
While we were in the UK, Dave and Helena Stevens came to look after the churches for July and the first week in August. They ran the Holiday Bible Clubs as always in Sabiote, Aldea and Santisteban.
There were many positive things to report, there were good numbers of children at all three places, the children listened well, some older children who have been to various Holiday Bible clubs in the past were there and also there were more helpers from the churches themselves than ever before!
During the weeks of Holiday Bible Clubs, Helena received the results of tests done previously which showed that she has malignant lumps in her breast. This has been quite a shock to all – especially considering all that has happened in the last 12 months. Dave and Helena returned to the UK straight after the Holiday Bible Clubs and are currently awaiting further tests to determine exactly what treatment she needs – please uphold them much in your prayers.
Now we are back in Santisteban.
The children, who behaved really well the whole summer despite all the travelling and lack of routine, are back at school.
The preaching and Bible study schedule begins again.
What are our aims for this autumn?
I want to do more than just make sure that all four pulpits are full every week and that those who want a midweek Bible study are catered for.
I want to build on the foundation of the preaching of the spring and follow up the preaching on the purposes of the church with more sermons and studies on the work of the church and the responsibility of every member to take his or her part.
I want to spend time with the leaders and potential leaders in each church encouraging and equipping them in the tasks they have.
I want to continue the work with the young people – particularly the three lads from Aldea: Pedro, Cristobal and Juan de Dios – who need to be encouraged in the right direction at this critical point in their lives.
I want to begin an evangelistic initiative, to produce a leaflet explaining the gospel clearly and simply, and to distribute it in the towns with churches, but working with people from each church.
Tania is hoping to follow a course in how to teach English as a foreign language and then to take opportunities to teach English – a useful way of getting to know people in the town.
She also needs to develop the work with the children – two in Chiclana and two in Sabiote – who again need care and teaching as they grow up so quickly.
Please pray with us over these things, all of them are, of course subject to the plans and purposes of our Almighty God.
Pray that all would be protected from further illness.
Pray that we may have wisdom, enthusiasm, energy and resilience as we take up this big task.
Pray also that other workers would come to help us – there are one or two possibilities in the pipeline, which we would love to see bearing fruit.
Thank you all for your prayers,
With Love in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Simon, Tania, Caleb & Rebecca.