For many North Americans, Europe is not on the radar when the idea of “mission work” comes to mind. The reality is God’s plan to restore the world encompasses the entire globe – not just third-world countries. In Europe, we’ve observed the institutional church often struggles to connect with a society that sees church rituals and practices as antiquated and irrelevant.
However, the innate sense there is something greater at work in this world remains strong and the Church, as a gathering of students of Jesus Christ, is in the midst of a metamorphosis. In Spain, the potential energy stored in emerging Anabaptist communities scattered throughout the country has the ability to start a chain reaction of Christ-focused, radical discipleship that can transform the world.
We simply seek to partner with these communities, offer our gifts, experience, and time, and do all we can to help them unlock their potential as they seek to understand and follow their roles in God’s mission of redemption.
Mennonites first became active in Spain in the late 1930s, providing relief during the civil war. Current ministry with Mennonite Mission Network emerged from the vision of Spanish Christians who joined the Mennonites while living in Belgium in the 1960s. Since then, Mission Network's personnel have related to Anabaptist-Mennonite communities in Spain, as well as being involved in wider teaching ministries in Spanish churches and seminaries.
Anabautistas, Menonitas y Hermanos en Cristo – España (AMyHCE) is a network of nine mission-minded Anabaptist congregations in Spain. For several years the members of the Spanish network of Mennonite and Anabaptist communities have longed for more mission workers to come and help them to do mission, plant new congregations and nurture the existing congregations.
The Spanish economy was one of the most dynamic in the EU, but the tourism, housing and construction industry were hit hard by the global economic crisis of 2008-2009. Unemployment is still above 20 percent with youth unemployment close to 50 percent. This directly impacts the capacity of local congregations to pay their leaders, so most ministry is voluntary or part-time.
Joshua and Alisha Garber from Trinity Mennonite Church in Phoenix, Ariz., have responded to God’s call to serve and develop a local congregation in Barcelona as well as work to strengthen and unify the AMyHCE network.
The church in Barcelona has asked the Garbers to help in several key areas:
build a thriving youth and young adult program
cultivate musical and liturgical worship practices
assist in the weekly preaching and Bible studies
engage the local neighborhood through peacemaking and mediation projects
The Garbers will do this while living in and coordinating an intentional community house for needy families. Once a stronger cultural and language foundation is built, the Garbers will then collaborate with AMyHCE to serve the network more broadly.
The cost of this ministry is expected to be $48,350 per year for three years and we are seeking annual commitments for the full three years. Major support of $8,000 a year is coming from Trinity Mennonite Church with hopes of another $20,000 a year from other supporting congregations. An additional $20,350 is needed annually to fully fund this ministry.
We are looking for ten families who are willing to commit to giving $1,000 per year to work at planting new churches and nurturing existing congregations in Barcelona. This leaves $10,350 for others to contribute as they are able since we know some will be able to give more and some less. We need people who will pray faithfully for the Garbers and support them with their gifts. Automatic monthly electronic giving is available through Mennonite Mission Network.