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20 August 2021

Spanish churches need youth workers: Checkpoint Spring 2021


CMS missionaries Mike and Tania Snowdon arrived in Spain in 2013 with a vision of seeing Spanish youth meet Jesus. Tania shares how gospel ministry in Spain can be a slow process.

I met Jesus when I was 16. I was on a youth camp and heard of God’s love for his rebellious people, and realised that in Jesus I could be forgiven. God graciously surrounded me with people who walked alongside me through the ups and downs of establishing my faith, and growing as a Christian.

Mike had a similar experience of people who were delighted to share not only the gospel but their lives as well (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8), especially through our crucial teen years. We experienced first-hand the value of such ministry, and this fostered in both of us a heart for teenagers to meet Jesus in his word.

Seeing youth come to know Jesus and then walking with them as they mature in faith:
this will see the church grow and not die out. But how will this happen?

Some years after we married, we heard of the needs of churches in Spain and thought God might use us there. But as we have since discovered, reaching youth with the gospel in Spain is slow and challenging work (as it is with the adults).

Small and slow beginnings

Our church in Valencia is part of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal church (IERE). It started small. When former CMS missionary John Lovell was appointed senior
minister in 2011, there were only about eight people in the church, and no specific ministry for young people. John’s wife Jodi began a Sunday school, partly to care for
their own (then) four children but also to serve others.

There were no teenagers regularly involved in our church until the Lovell children grew a bit older! At that point I began meeting with them in our home to read the Bible, pray and share a meal. Our church has so far never had any local teens as a regular part of our group. However, from next year there will be two teenagers
who originally started back in the Sunday school with Jodi. We hope they will join the group we have started for the three teen missionary kids in our church.

The importance of ministry to youth

Seeing youth come to know Jesus and then walking with them as they mature in faith: this will see the church grow and not die out. But how will this happen?

Here in Spain, church people often want big events, or some similar quick fix, in the hope of seeing their young people converted and living for Jesus. However as much as we would all like to see quick growth, the timing is ultimately up to God. Our role is to patiently proclaim Jesus over the long-term, trusting in God to give the growth.

A youth in prayer at a GBE camp.

The church family matters

While it is the job of Christian parents to instruct their children in the way of the Lord, our wider church family here also plays a significant role. In God’s grace there are now seven people from our church helping lead ministry amongst children and youth!

From church to school

These young people have their own part to play. They are at school and able to share the gospel with their friends. The youth ministry that Mike works for (Grupos Biblicos Estudiantiles, GBE) aims to help churches (especially youth) to grow in faith, and to help them in their boldness to share the news of Jesus in their schools.

This ministry is small. We have struggled more than usual over the last 18 months because of COVID. But our prayer is that God will use these individuals to grow his church, to share Jesus in their schools, and see more disciples made. We try to faithfully play our part and we rejoice in any growth that God allows us to see. To him be the glory.

GO

Are you involved in ministry in Australia? Would you consider serving our Spanish brothers and sisters? There are great needs for Bible teachers, youth workers and church planters in Spain. Contact your CMS branch to find out about opportunities to serve.