December 2017 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

Sometimes it’s good to look back and remember what God has done as you make plans and look forward to the future.  That is exactly what we are doing this month as we make plans for 2018 in the areas of evangelism, discipleship and leadership training. We look back across the seven years that God has allowed us to serve here in Spain and we see what God has done. He has done much more than we could have ever imagined. One of the things that God has done, for which I am very thankful, has been to work on my own life. Serving as a missionary has caused me to see my sin and my weaknesses like never before and to recognize my utter dependance on God. I still have a long way to go, but I am thankful for His sanctifying work in my life. I am thankful for the wife that God has given me and how she has been willing to leave her family behind and join me on this crazy journey called being a missionary. I love her so much and I feel that our marriage has improved and our relationship deepened during this time. I can truly say that I love her more today than when I married her back in 2006. I pray that God would continue to change us as we labour to proclaim the life-changing gospel to others.

The work of setting up a Training Center for raising up leaders is still moving forward. The Madrid Training Center for Applied Theology will officially inaugurate in January. In addition to our two churches, we will also be working with the New Life Baptist Church of Sanchinarro in the task of training men. It’s exciting to think about how God is going to use this ministry to impact existing churches and future church-plants for the furtherance of the gospel in Spain and abroad. Last week we had a small taste of what the classes will be like at the Training Center. The students had the privilege of spending three hours with veteran missionary Aaron Bashore, as he discussed the tools of a disciple-maker with the six men that participated.

During the next few months I would like to keep you updated about a huge and urgent need for the Parla Baptist Church. This church desperately needs a new building in which to meet. The Lord has greatly blessed them and they are now averaging over 60 people in attendance every week, but the building they currently have is too small to properly accommodate all of them. They simply cannot grow any more unless they get a new building. We are praying that they would be able to purchase a building that is at least three times the size of what they have now. They have already found a building that would be perfect for them, but it will cost around $90,000. We are praying that God would provide the funds for this new building as soon as possible. Very soon, I will be sending more information about how you can help. For the time being, please pray and let us know if you would be interested in helping. God bless.

August 2017 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

Madrid is a city of 3.2 million people, which doubles in size when you add in the people living in the surrounding metropolitan area. Madrid is the capital city of Spain and is centrally located on the map. We believe that Madrid is key to reaching the entire country with the gospel. For these reasons and more we have started exploring the city and meeting with like-minded individuals and churches that have a burden for church-planting in Madrid in order to get a better idea of what the needs and opportunities are for church-planting in this great city. Our desire is to lay some groundwork for future church-planting endeavors in Madrid and beyond.

Although research is important for church-planting, training men is even more important. We are currently training two men from the Parla Baptist Church and one from the Biblical Baptist Church of Colmenar Viejo for the work of the ministry. Our desire is to help these men to grow spiritually by learning and practicing the spiritual disciplines, such as Bible intake (reading, memorizing, meditating), prayer, worship, evangelism, etc… We also want to give them the best possible formal theological training to equip them for the various challenges of full-time ministry. And as they learn the theory we want to give them the practical training they need in the context of their local church. Already these men are discipling others, teaching Sunday school lessons, leading small groups and preaching biblical messages. So far we have only focused on training men that are members of the churches we have helped start. However, the Lord is starting to open up doors for us to help train men from other like-minded churches in Madrid. That is why the end of September we are going to meet with the men wanting to train with us and their pastors to share our vision for a Madrid Theological Training Center. We are excited about the opportunity to train more men for the work of the ministry. We know that healthy, Christ-exalting, Bible-teaching, gospel-proclaiming churches will not be planted unless men with a vision for these kind of churches are trained and sent out to plant them. 

As more churches are planted for the glory of God we will see more lives changed by the power of the gospel like Agustin. We first heard about Agustin during our mid-week ‘Come and See’ bible study in Colmenar Viejo. Isabel, a faithful member, asked for us to pray for her niece’s husband (Agustin), who was going to be operated in his brain. They were told that he only had a five percent chance of survival. So we prayed. By the grace of God, Agustin survived the surgery. Before his surgery Flavius and I had the opportunity to share the gospel with him, wondering whether we would ever see him again. The surgery has left him with some speech and memory problems, but he is now faithfully attending church services every week. He has made a profession of faith and will soon be starting discipleship lessons with us. Praise the Lord! Thank you once again for your prayers and faithful support. God bless.

From Madrid to Heaven

“De Madrid al Cielo” (From Madrid to Heaven) is a very popular saying used to describe the city of Madrid. Nobody knows exactly the origin of this saying, but the meaning is clear: There isn’t a better place in the world to be than Madrid. The only step up, would be Heaven. I had the privilege of being born in Madrid. I can testify to its beauty and diversity and the warmth of its people. Madrid isn’t just a city that’s fun to visit, it’s a city that you never forget. I left Madrid when I was eleven and didn’t return until I was twenty-six. Even though I left Madrid, Madrid never left me.

When I returned with my family as a church-planting missionary, I noticed how much had changed and how much remained exactly the same. Clearly, one of the biggest changes was the amount of immigrants that there were in Madrid, mainly from Latin America. The other big change was not so much the city, but my perspective. I was now an adult and saw things very differently. What hadn’t changed at all was the need for the gospel.

After almost seven years in Spain my burden for this city only increases. I am praying that more churches will be planted not only in the metro area, but in the heart of the city.  (click here to read the article Church planting in Madrid) In order to raise awareness and encourage church-planting in Madrid, I have committed to personally explore every district of Madrid and assess the state of the gospel in each area. How many gospel-centered, gospel-proclaiming churches are there really in Madrid?

According to Wikipedia, the city of Madrid “…is divided into 21 districts (distritos), which are further subdivided into 128 wards (barrios).” Here is the map from the same Wikipedia link above. Each number on the map corresponds with the list of districts below.

Districts and wards

Map of the districts of Madrid

  1. Centro: Palacio, Embajadores, Cortes, Justicia, Universidad, Sol
  2. Arganzuela: Imperial, Acacias, La Chopera, Legazpi, Delicias, Palos de Moguer, Atocha
  3. Retiro: Pacífico, Adelfas, Estrella, Ibiza, Jerónimos, Niño Jesús
  4. Salamanca: Recoletos, Goya, Parque de las Avenidas, Fuente del Berro, Guindalera, Lista, Castellana
  5. Chamartín: El Viso, Prosperidad, Ciudad Jardín, Hispanoamérica, Nueva España, Castilla
  6. Tetuán: Bellas Vistas, Cuatro Caminos, Castillejos, Almenara, Valdeacederas, Berruguete
  7. Chamberí: Gaztambide, Arapiles, Trafalgar, Almagro, Vallehermoso, Ríos Rosas
  8. Fuencarral-El Pardo: El Pardo, Fuentelarreina, Peñagrande, Barrio del Pilar, La Paz, Valverde, Mirasierra, El Goloso
  9. Moncloa-Aravaca: Casa de Campo, Argüelles, Ciudad Universitaria, Valdezarza, Valdemarín, El Plantío, Aravaca
  10. Latina: Los Cármenes, Puerta del Ángel, Lucero, Aluche, Las Águilas, Campamento, Cuatro Vientos
  11. Carabanchel: Abrantes, Buenavista, Comillas, Opañel, Puerta Bonita, San Isidro, Vista Alegre
  12. Usera: Orcasitas, Orcasur, San Fermín, Almendrales, Moscardó, Zofío, Pradolongo
  13. Puente de Vallecas: Entrevías, San Diego, Palomeras Bajas, Palomeras Sureste, Portazgo, Numancia
  14. Moratalaz: Pavones, Horcajo, Marroquina, Media Legua, Fontarrón, Vinateros
  15. Ciudad Lineal: Ventas, Pueblo Nuevo, Quintana, La Concepción, San Pascual, San Juan Bautista, Colina, Atalaya, Pinar de Chamartín (Costillares)
  16. Hortaleza: Palomas, Valdefuentes, Canillas, Pinar del Rey, Apóstol Santiago, Piovera
  17. Villaverde: San Andrés, San Cristóbal, Butarque, Los Rosales, Los Ángeles
  18. Villa de Vallecas: Casco Histórico de Vallecas, Santa Eugenia
  19. Vicálvaro: Casco Histórico de Vicálvaro, Ambroz
  20. San Blas: Simancas, Hellín, Amposta, Arcos, Rosas, Rejas, Canillejas, Salvador
  21. Barajas: Parque de El Capricho (Alameda de Osuna), Aeropuerto, Casco Histórico de Barajas, Timón, Corralejos

Paul wrote in Colossians 1:5, “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.” The only way the people of Madrid will have any opportunity to go to heaven when they die is if they hear and believe the truth of the gospel. It is my prayer that the saying “From Madrid to Heaven” will become a reality for the millions living in Madrid. Will you pray? Will you give? Will you mobilize? Will you go?

 

Church planting in Madrid

It has been our desire from day one to be used of God to start churches in Spain. By the grace of God we have been able to help start two churches already in the Community of Madrid (Spain has 17 Autonomous Communities). Within Spain, the most important and largest city is Madrid (It is in fact the capital city of Spain). Madrid is almost right in the very center of the country. As you can see, for these reasons and more, we consider Madrid key to reaching the entire country with the gospel.

That is why I would like to start a series of posts highlighting the different cities within the Community of Madrid and the districts within the city proper so that you can be better informed of the need and help us pray so that we can see several new churches planted in this beautiful city that desperately needs the gospel. In this post, I would like to give you some general information about Madrid.

What many people don’t realize is that Madrid is an Autonomous Community and a city. That’s why you have to be specific when you say something about Madrid. When I hear someone talking about Madrid, I usually think, “Are they talking about the Autonomous Community or the city?” It would be as if Georgia, for example, were the name of the state and the name of the capital city.

Almost 100% of the population of the Autonomous Community of Madrid is made up of those living in the Metropolitan area of the city of Madrid. The actual city of Madrid has a population of about 3.2 million according to the most recent census, and the metro area has a population of 6.3 million. There are 179 municipalities (cities and towns) in the Community of Madrid. Here is a list of the ten largest according to population:

Rank Municipality Population Area
km²
1 Madrid 3,233,527 605.8
2 Móstoles 206,031 45
3 Alcalá de Henares 203,924 88
4 Fuenlabrada 198,132 39.1
5 Leganés 187,125 43.1
6 Getafe 171,280 78.74
7 Alcorcón 169,308 33.7
8 Torrejón de Ardoz 125,331 32.6
9 Parla 124,208 24.43
10 Alcobendas 111,040 45

We have already started a church in one of these cities (Parla) and the other church is in the city of Colmenar Viejo, which is ranked 21 and has a population of almost 50,000.

In the next posts, I will give you more details about each of the major cities of the Community of Madrid, as well as the different districts within the actual city of Madrid. I will also give you information about the amount of gospel-preaching churches that there are in each of the areas. As I share information every week, please pray that the Lord would raise up laborers and that the Lord would use us in any way He pleases in helping plant more gospel-centered churches in Madrid and throughout Spain.

June 2017 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

“Come and see Radio is a program that invites you to explore biblical Christianity and that answers your questions about God and the Bible.” That is the intro for every new episode of ‘Come and See” radio (Radio Venyve). It has been three months since our last update and we are excited to announce that we have been able to raise $2,000 towards the $6,000 that we need to completely fund this ministry for 2017. We are so thankful for the churches and individuals that have given. We are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in the future through this ministry. Last week we had the opportunity to host a group from Beacon Baptist Church in Jupiter, Florida that gave so that we could produce 30,000 postcards announcing the radio ministry. We have already been able to distribute several thousand postcards in Parla and Colmenar.

The Parla Baptist Church is seeing people saved and baptized. The greatest need that they have right now is a new building. The believers in Parla are praying fervently and searching diligently for a new meeting place. The building in which they are meeting right now is the same one in which they were meeting when the church was started. There is simply no more room to grow. However, the prayer is that they would be able to buy a building and not just rent. The only thing keeping the church in Parla from becoming fully autonomous is that they don’t have their own building. If they could buy a building they would be able to use the money that they are using for the rent right now to fully support a national pastor. Please pray with us about this need.

The church in Colmenar is growing little by little. We have several unbelievers that are visiting our midweek bible study and our church services on Sunday. Please pray for their salvation. We also have a new family of believers that have started visiting our church. They live about ten minutes from our church and were looking for a church, but didn’t know that we were there until a contact of theirs mentioned our church to them. They have already been a blessing to the church. Not everything is good news, however. In December 2015 we had the privilege of baptizing two believers (Javier and Harold) from Colmenar. The former has since stopped coming to church. The latter, however, is growing in the Lord and has a desire to serve. I share that to let you know that our challenges are very much like yours. We are only responsable for the process of preaching the gospel and discipling new believers, the outcome is up to the Lord. But we are confident that God is doing a work in Spain and that our labour for Christ is not in vain. If you would like to receive weekly updates and ministry musings in addition to the quarterly update that we send, you can visit www.operationspain.com and subscribe to our blog. Thank you once again for faithfully supporting our ministry in Spain. God Bless.

February 2017 Velasquez Family Update

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Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

I would like to share with you an exciting new evangelistic ministry that we have started here in Spain. The ministry is called ‘Radio Venyve’ (Come and See Radio). And what is Radio Venyve? It is an online radio program that invites unbelievers to explore Biblical Christianity and that answers questions about God and the Bible. Every week Flavius and I record a new program and stream it online. We have already recorded thirty-four programs and have over twenty-eight hours of programming. We stream our programs non-stop on a loop. Every program is well-prepared, engaging, and presents the gospel clearly.

But that’s not all. We don’t just want people to listen to the programs; we want them to take the next step and meet up with a believer face-to-face, attend an evangelistic Bible study, or visit a gospel-preaching church. That is why we just launched a website for the radio program. The website is very professional and easy to navigate. Our goal is to get people to fill out a simple form with their name and e-mail address so that we can share the gospel with them personally.

What we love about this ministry is that it is of the local church, for the local church. It can be used by any gospel-preaching church in Spain. Thanks to the internet, it has the potential to reach millions of people. It also aids us in our day-to-day evangelistic efforts. Very soon we are going to print thousands of postcards and create a survey about the radio program that will open up doors to sharing the gospel with people on the streets.

What part can you have in this ministry? First, you can pray. We completely depend on God for the success of this ministry. Second, you can share. If you know someone that could benefit from this website, share the link with them: www.radiovenyve.com. Finally, you can give. We are asking the Lord to provide $6,000 to fund the project in 2017. 

Here is the breakdown:

  • Website: $1,300 (This is how much we still have to pay for the design work)
  • Advertising: $3,700 (Facebook ads and professional promotional videos for 2017)
  • New Equipment: $1,000 (New microphones to improve sound quality)

Thank you for so much for partnering with us. Please pray for the furtherance of the gospel in Spain. To God be the glory!

November 2016 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

Six years ago today we arrived in Spain as church-planting missionaries, with lots of excitement and hope. We had no idea what God would accomplish six years later through our lives and ministry, but we did know what God wanted us to do. We knew then, what we now know: our mission is to make disciples of Christ and gather those disciples into local churches with a desire to reproduce more disciples and churches. The results are up to God and when he gives gospel fruit all the glory belongs to him! Since November 2010 we have seen God—through the proclamation of the gospel and with the power of the Holy Spirit—give new life to spiritually dead people, raise up two new churches in the province of Madrid, and save, call, and equip two men for pastoral ministry. May God and God alone be glorified!

We are thankful for what God has done, but we are asking him to do more through us. For several years, we have been praying about an area in Madrid called ‘Sanchinarro/Las Tablas’. As far as we know, there are no gospel-preaching churches in this district of more than 200,000 inhabitants. I recently met a couple of missionaries that are living in that area and planning to start a church there. We hope to be a blessing to them and help in any way we can. We want to see many churches planted in Spain and want to be involved in these church-planting efforts either directly or indirectly.  One of the ways that we hope to help existing churches and new churches in Spain is through evangelistic projects. We are currently involved in two: Radio Venyve (Come and See Radio) and an evangelistic website called venyve.net (comeandsee.net). We are collaborating with several like-minded churches and missionaries to see these projects come to fruition.

As exciting as these projects are, they cannot take the place of the local church. We believe that healthy local churches led by biblically qualified men are the key to reaching Spain. That is why we ask that you pray for the Parla Baptist Church. This church desperately needs a new place to meet. They are looking for a building that will allow them to grow and have a permanent presence in the community. That is why they are hoping to purchase a piece of property. One of the greatest benefits of them owning their own building will be that they will have the funds to fully support a pastor.

As I reflect on our time in Spain, I’m thankful for the men the Lord has given me the responsibility to lead and train. One of these men is Flavius Tabardau. The beginning of November I had the privilege of performing his wedding. What made this wedding so special was that he married my sister, Deborah. I am thrilled that God brought them together and I know God is going to use them greatly. Thank you so much for your prayers and faithful support. God Bless.

August 2016 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” I believe that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God. In other words, the church exists to display the glory of God through the proclamation of the gospel and through the way in which we live our lives as members of the church. That is one of the ideas that I will be teaching from the Scriptures during the month of September in both churches (Parla and Colmenar). The theme for the sermon series is quite simply ‘The Church’. The reason I will be preaching on the subject of the church is because very soon we plan to formally organize the group of baptized believers in Colmenar as a church. I want them to be ready for that day.

The work of gospel proclamation continues in both churches. In Parla, several unbelievers have been attending the  ‘Come and See’ Bible study. Every week Paco and Flavius go through the gospel of John, explain the passages and answer their questions. In Colmenar, our plan is to start the live radio programs in September and promote them through Facebook ads. In addition, we are going to go through the city and ask people to give us their questions about God and the Bible for us to answer during the radio programs and then invite them to listen. We pray that God would open up doors for us to share the gospel with people as we fill out a short survey for the radio program with them. Our desire is to involve as many believers as possible in this project. Flavius is now in charge of the radio ministry. He selects the themes for the programs, prepares an outline for the program, edits the audio and uploads the new programs each week.

The work of training men continues. I am almost done studying systematic theology with Flavius and now Paco is going to start studying the same course. Also, I have started preparing a course on church polity which I will be teaching them every Saturday. I want them to be ready to lead the church when the time comes for them to be ordained as pastors. I believe one of the greatest responsibilities they will have as pastors is to faithfully teach the Word of God to the church. For that reason starting in January they are going to be preaching a lot more. Every other month they are going to be taking turns preaching through 2 Peter. In preparation for that series, they will be reading the entire book several times in order to determine the theme and they will outline the book and divide the book by sections or units of thought. Then we will discuss the messages together before and after they preach them. Please pray for me that I would lead these men by example. But most of all, pray that they would follow Christ. Thank you for your prayers and support. God Bless.

June 2016 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

Today is the last official day of school for my kids, which means summer is upon us. Things tend to slow down here in Spain during the summer months, especially in August, but we have a full calendar. We will kick things off in July with the third anniversary of the Colmenar church. We hope to see several visitors come for the special service and picnic that we will have afterwards. Also, we plan to launch our online radio station this week. Flavius and I have been recording programs every week and are excited that we finally have enough programming to launch the radio ministry. Not only do we plan to stream prerecorded programs, but we want to have live programs as well and answer questions from callers. We will be promoting the station through Facebook ads. Pray that many would click on the ads and hear the gospel.

The ‘Come and See’ Bible study in Parla is going well. It is being led completely by Paco and Flavius. What thrills my heart the most is that their teaching ministry is the outflow of their personal walk with God. These men are men of the Book. Not only that, they are readers. It is my privilege to purchase good solid books for them every month. If you would like to be a blessing to these men, one of the ways that you could do it is by helping them purchase books. Believe me, they will read them and use the knowledge gained to teach others! The people in the church have worked hard distributing invitations to the Bible study and we have already seen the church grow as a result. Continue praying for the Parla church.

Flavius is now officially leading the youth ministry in Parla. He is currently teaching them through the book of Romans. The book of Romans has had a huge impact on his life and he wants to share the message with others. As a matter of fact, he is only four chapters away for completely memorizing the book! Cristian has started leading the music and Paco continues to teach the adult class. Two ladies, Anca and Veronica (Paco’s wife) are teaching the children. It is wonderful to see these believers growing and teaching others. It has been our desire from day one for the churches that we plant to become indigenous (Self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating). One of our greatest obstacles towards that goal is purchasing a building for both churches. We know that God is able to lead us to the right buildings and provide the funds.

In July we are taking our young people to Portugal for camp. Pray that they would return with a renewed desire for God. Pray for Alain, Steven, Andrea, Juan, Lidia, Conchi, Geovanna, Andres and many others, for their salvation. God Bless.

April 2016 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

This month we celebrate the six-year anniversary of the Parla Baptist Church. I still remember when we arrived in Spain in 2010. My parents and my sister and brother-in-law (Jeffrey Andrews) had already been meeting in a store-front for seven months before our arrival and God was already blessing. Eduardo Sedoski had come to Christ through the gospel website and Paco Prada had come to the church after receiving a gospel DVD in his mailbox. Much has happened since then. Another church was started and several have come to faith in Christ and are growing spiritually. One of the greatest blessings is to see fruit that remains. Eduardo and his family are now serving with our family in the Biblical Baptist Church of Colmenar and Paco is faithfully serving and teaching alongside his family in Parla. God is good!

It’s great to see the results of training men. For the past four years I have spent approximately twenty hours a week specifically training men for ministry. Now our gospel witness is multiplying. In a couple weeks the church in Parla is going to start a ‘Come and See’ bible study like the one we have in Colmenar with an evangelistic focus. What’s great is that it will be totally led by Paco and Flavius. They will be teaching, answering questions and leading the discussion. In addition, these men are preaching, discipling others and leading various ministries. God is using the women as well to evangelize the lost, disciple other women and teach children. We know that if we want to start more churches in the future we will need to be busy “…perfecting…the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).

We are currently developing tools for the furtherance of the gospel in Spain! We are cooperating with several missionaries and pastors to produce a first-class gospel website. It is a lot of work, but we believe every minute invested in this project will be worth it if the gospel is proclaimed and Christ is magnified through the site! We hope to launch the site in the Fall. Another tool we are working on is an online radio station for the church in Colmenar. My dear missionary friend, Aaron Bashore, helped us set it up. Flavius and I will be working on the programming. We hope to reach thousands through the station.

Thank you for your support and prayers. We desire to partner with you in Spain for many years to come. As a matter of fact, we finally received our permanent Spanish residency. That means that we renew our residency every five years and it’s a very easy process. We believe that God has led us every step of the way and that we are exactly where He wants us to be at this time. Please continue praying for us as we preach Christ and trust the Lord to work in the hearts of men.