45 million in need of the gospel, with freedom to preach and many great locations!
After a brutal civil war followed by 36 years of dictatorship, Spain has been transformed into a modern democracy, one of the most enthusiastic members of the European Union. The Catholic church, closely identified with the Franco regime, has lost much of its privileged position and many of its members. However, most have turned to secularism and some to cults.
There is encouragement for evangelicals in the turning to Christ of one third of all Gypsies in the country (part of a Europe-wide movement of God amongst this race) and also the effective work of several Christian agencies in reaching and rehabilitating some of the huge number of Spanish drug-users. In the past twenty five years many immigrants from around the world, but especially Nigeria, Romania and Latin America have arrived, including a good proportion of evangelicals. It has been difficult to integrate these into the established church culture and many set up their own churches. But if the churches once looked foreign because of a missionary pastor, now the reality of so many immigrant believers means it has almost become more difficult to reach native Spaniards, even though the number of believers in the country has multiplied.
Background Chris and Hilde Mathieson have been responsible for the development of the work in Spain since 1982. During the early years, the emphasis was on training the local churches and on short-term team outreaches. Based from 1989 in Madrid, they developed regular local outreach in the city’s centre, work in schools and among people with disabilities, in addition to continuing the national itinerant ministry and campaigns. From 2001 to 2003 they were in the least developed region, Extremadura. They helped to coordinate church-planting and outreach in the region with Operation Mobilisation, with whom they have had a close relationship all these years. Between 2003 and 2005 they made their base in Switzerland, supporting Spain through itinerant and web ministry, including an information-packed web site. (Since 2001, when the Mathiesons left Madrid, the regular ministry in the city centre has not died, but rather restarted the same year to become a daily outreach, developing into what is now called OnTheRedBox.)
Current Ministry From 2006 they are back in Spain, on the island of Mallorca. Ministry has included support of local churches in outreach, but also encouraging evangelism throughout Spain, as webmaster for the Conference for the Evangelisation of Spain. This includes Spanish and English language webs and Facebook pages. In addition, in 2015 Chris & Hilde were among the founders of a crisis pregnancy counselling hotline, ‘Sifra’, the first evangelical service of its kind in the country. The Mathiesons are also happy to be regularly encouraged by missionaries Ken and Alison Barrett, based in Madrid and linked with OAC since the late 1970s. Ken continues to be involved through regular outreach alongside OnTheRedBox (see top photo).
Other roles within OACI Chris, while being the Field Representative for Spain was for 8 years the European Chairman of OAC. He also acts as international webmaster (including Facebook) and postmaster, keeping OAC’s lines of communication open.
For a fuller picture of the situation in Spain check out the following sites:
Pray4Spain. Currently this site is not being updated.
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