MB church in Spain inspires former missionary to be thankful for a spiritual inheritance
By Ron Penner
When missionaries Ron and Fran Penner left Spain in 1993 they wondered if their fledgling church would survive. Visiting the congregation a dozen years later, the Penners are pleasantly surprised to find a strong church lead by men and women they discipled.
“The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” Psalm 16:6.
My wife, Fran, and I recently spent two weeks on a treasure hunt in Spain. We were looking for that “delightful inheritance” that we read about in Psalm 16.
Fran and I served under MB Mission for 12 years in Spain. When it was determined in 1993 that MB Mission needed to leave Spain, we left a small group of 25-30, including children, in Tres Cantos, just outside of Madrid. The group’s viability was not good. Some were new in their faith, and we saw very little leadership in the group. We wondered if our small fledging church would make it.
To our surprise, today there is a strong, vibrant, evangelical Christian church in Tres Cantos. Since we were gone, they sought help from another evangelical church body, and it happened to be the Southern Baptists who resourced this small group. During our visit we were introduced to the congregation as the “founding pastors” of the church. Lynn and Mary Kauffman, who were traveling with us and had served with us as missionaries in Spain, were welcomed as the “transitional pastors,” since they filled in for one year while we were on sabbatical.
This congregation was granted land by the city of Tres Cantos, a miraculous event in itself, and built a fairly large facility that has grown to presently house some 150 attendees. They have a strong leadership team that includes four of those we helped to begin their walk with the Lord and/or disciple. They also have initiated several ministries to reach into the community. They started a food distribution ministry that really meets a need as the unemployment in Spain has reached 23 percent; among those 30 and under, unemployment is 49 percent. A new law in Spain enables the evangelical Christian church to provide chaplains in hospitals and so they go regularly to a large hospital in Madrid and provide a significant ministry to those who are ill.
The most delightful treasure we discovered was that quite a number of those who made commitments to the Lord while we were there are continuing faithfully. Of course, there are those who have fallen away, but more than a few shared that they are living for Jesus and that he is their guide. This church has not only survived—it is thriving.
Our treasure hunt revealed that God’s church has increased and grown from the small investment made years ago. We returned from our trip with much gratitude in our hearts for the “delightful inheritance” we have in Spain! I invite you to go on your own treasure hunt. Where do you see evidence of how your investment—large or small—in God’s kingdom has grown?
Ron Penner is senior pastor at Kingsburg (Calif.) MB Church.