Come and See

It’s been about a year and a half since we started our ‘Come and See’ bible study on Thursday nights. It has been a great evangelistic tool. Every week we meet at the church, sit in a circle, and study the gospel of John. Amazingly the attendance is sometimes greater on Thursday night than it is on Sunday because in addition to our regular church members we have several ‘seekers’ that come to the mid-week Bible study.

Why did we start ‘Come and see’? We wanted to give people the opportunity to study biblical Christianity directly from the source (the Scriptures). So many people in Spain think they know all there is to know about Christianity and Jesus but are shocked when they discover that Christ’s testimony of himself and their idea of Christ aren’t the same. That is why we are going verse by verse through the gospel of John and letting the Scriptures speak for themselves. However, I always give preference to their questions. Many weeks I don’t have time to finish the lesson because they have so many questions.

I am thrilled to say that since we started the ‘Come and See’ Bible study we have had five of our regular attenders get saved and baptized. All of them are still with us. Another blessing is that we have always had ‘seekers’ with us. Right now we have two unbelievers that faithfully attend and another that attends sporadically. What is exciting is that those that have been transformed by the power of the gospel are able to share their testimony with these ‘seekers’ and say to them, “I’ve been where you are; I know what you’re thinking.”

‘Come and See’ has also been a great tool for discipleship and training men. It is a great time for new believers to have their questions answered and for mature believers to answer their questions. When we started ‘Come and See’ only Eduardo and I knew enough bible to answer questions. Now I have two other men that are explaining the gospel and patiently helping our ‘seekers’. Last Thursday was especially a blessing. We have a new lady that is attending the Bible study. She is friends with Angie (Eduardo’s wife). She asked these questions: “What is the difference between this church and the Catholic church and why did you start this church?” Instead of answering the questions myself I let the believers in the group answer them. I must say, it was a special moment for me. I saw people that had asked me the same questions in the past answer her questions very clearly and from the Scriptures. Please continue to pray for ‘Ven y Ve’ (Come and see).

 

An Exciting Weekend!

DSC_79522

We had an exciting weekend at the church in Colmenar! It all started with the baptism of Javier and Harold. Both of these men came to know Christ through the testimony of believers from the Colmenar church. Javier is Eduardo’s friend. For several years Eduardo shared the gospel with him. Last year I started meeting up with him once a week to answer his Bible questions. One of those days he confessed to me that he had believed the gospel!  Saturday was the culmination of more than two years of  praying for Javier and patiently teaching him the gospel.

Harold is sixteen. He was invited to church by Mayra. Very soon after he started attending the church services he shared with me that he had placed his faith and trust in Jesus for his salvation. The Lord used a gospel film to show him his need of Christ. I immediately started discipling him. It has been wonderful to see the change in his life. We spend lots of time together during the week studying the Bible.

Then to top things off Flavius preached his first full-length message on Sunday. In the message he clearly expounded the gospel of Christ! It’s weekends like these that I am reminded of why we came to Spain as missionaries. Thank you for your prayers.

 

 

 

Training men and Scripture Memorization

A spiritual discipline that has helped me immensely in my Christian life is Scripture memorization. I started memorizing Scripture intentionally when I was fourteen. One of the first changes that I noticed was that I started thinking biblically. Please don’t misunderstand and think that I stopped sinning and achieved perfection. That is far from the truth. My wife could attest to that! What I do know is that my way of thinking changed. I don’t know exactly when it started, but I noticed that little by little verses started popping up in my mind that altered the way I thought and acted. I noticed that I was able to explain the gospel more clearly. I noticed that I was able to answer the objections of skeptics more effectively. But the greatest benefit of all is that I began to desire the things of God. Again, it did not fix all my problems. I still struggle with sin. I still fail in my Christian life. However, Scripture memorization has been a tremendous blessing.

Also, Scripture memorization does not replace other spiritual disciplines. Every believer ought to read his bible and meditate on it day and night. Every believer ought to learn to pray and to diligently seek after God. But I find that very few Christians memorize Scripture. I don’t understand the reason! My challenge to those that find memorization tedious and boring is for them to memorize one of Paul’s epistles. It doesn’t take long to memorize an epistle and the spiritual benefits are eternal. I’ve never met a born again believer that has memorized a book of the Bible and hasn’t been spiritually enriched by it.

So what does Scripture memorization have to do with training men? I believe that the discipline of Scripture memorization enables the men that we are training to think biblically. What skill could be more important for a future pastor or missionary! I’ll give you one example. Flavius Tabardau is a young man that I am training for ministry. One of the first things he did after he was saved was memorize 1 John. I noticed immediately that he had a very clear understanding of true biblical conversion. He would talk about the importance of loving his brethren in Christ and why it’s foolish to love the world. How did he learn those things? Did he learn them by reading a book on spiritual growth and maturity? No. He learned those things by meditating on 1 John as he reviewed his verses every day. When he started preaching five-minute messages, guess from which book he preached?

Next, he started memorizing Romans. We are actually memorizing it together. We are almost done with chapter five. Whenever we meet together to study, we begin by reviewing our memory verses and discussing the meaning of what we’ve memorized. It has helped both of us tremendously. What a book to study! What I have noticed is that his understanding of the gospel is solid. What’s great is that he isn’t learning the gospel from me; he’s learning it from Paul! The other day he said to me, “David, I think I know how to summarize the gospel in two words.” I said, “How”. He replied, “The gospel is: ‘for sinners’.” His answer thrilled my heart because he had understood Paul’s point in the first three chapters of Romans: we are all sinners and in desperate need of Christ! Then he shared with me how he had taught the gospel to one of his friends. He said, “All I did was explain the first five chapters of Romans to him.” Praise the Lord!

Again, I don’t believe memorization is the only important spiritual discipline. Also, I’m not against formal theological training and reading books. As a matter of fact, Flavius and I are studying Systematic Theology right now and he is devouring books like crazy. What I am saying is that memorization has greatly helped me and it has helped the men I am training here in Spain. Do you think it could help you? What would happen if you memorized a book of the bible? What would happen if you memorized four? Would if affect the way you think? Would you love God more? Would you be better prepared? If you accept my challenge, please let me know if there is any way I can help you in the area of Scripture memorization.

October 2015 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

Does the gospel work differently in Europe than in other parts of the world? Are Spaniards more hardened to the gospel than others? The Bible answers these questions clearly. The gospel is powerful to save in every place. Its power is not diminished by geography (Romans 1:16; Colossians 1:5-6). Also, all men are hardened to the gospel. Nobody is naturally inclined to it. Every man is sinful by nature and rebellious against God (Romans 3:10-12; Ephesians 4:17-19). So, why is it that so few spaniards believe the gospel and why does the work appear slower in this part of the world? I believe that one of the reasons is because it is harder in Spain to gain an audience for the gospel. In other words, for cultural reasons, it is harder to get people to even hear the gospel. Because less are willing to hear the gospel, less get saved.

So, what is our challenge as missionaries to Spain? Getting more people to hear and learn the gospel. One of the ways that we plan to gain a wider audience for the gospel is through the internet. Last month we started working on our gospel website (estudialabiblia.com). I went down to Seville and recorded three videos that will be featured on the home page. This is a joint project with several other like-minded missionaries. We believe God is going to greatly use this website! Another way to get more people to hear the gospel is by multiplying our efforts. We need more gospel-proclaimers! That’s why it isn’t a waste of time to invest in men like Eduardo, Paco and Flavius. Every disciple-maker that we train will mean more voices to proclaim the good news of Christ.

Another potential disciple-maker is Harold. A young man that was saved in April. I have been spending a lot of time with him. He is sixteen and struggles with peer-pressure at his high-school. Flavius is a great example to him. He is twenty and  on fire for God. I know that Harold respects him and in many ways would like to be like him. I am praying that God will grow our youth group. One of the ways that we are trying to reach young people is through the free English classes. We distributed ten thousand flyers directly in people’s mailboxes and we had three new kids sign up. A few from our last trimester of classes have returned, but we feel that the group needs to grow a little more in order for us to maximize our time and have a greater impact. Because of that I am going to go fishing for young people every Friday night with Flavius and Harold. We’re going to invite them to the classes and share the gospel as well. Thank you for your prayers and faithful support. God Bless.

Monday Ministry Updates

I want to inform you that starting next week I will be writing something every Monday about the ministry here in Spain. I want to do a better job communicating with you. I find that when I announce a goal publicly it gives me an extra incentive to follow through with it. That is what this short blog post is all about. I want to thank you for reading our updates in the past and praying for us. God is at work here in Spain. I look forward to sharing news on a weekly basis. God Bless.

August 2015 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

The two-year anniversary of the Biblical Baptist Church of Colmenar was a great success. Thirty-eight people came out to celebrate this special day. Fourteen of them were first-time visitors. What’s great is that several of the visitors were family and friends of the church members, which means it will be easier to follow-up with them. We are looking forward to school starting back up because that will mean that people will be getting back from their summer vacations and we can launch several evangelistic ministries. We plan to teach english to teens again and continue with the Friday night “Come and See” youth bible study. What’s new is that we are going to start teaching adults as well. This will be a great way to meet people and share the gospel with them. We are also going to finish updating our church website and completely redo our evangelistic website (estudialabiblia.com). Once it is finished we will be able to distribute postcards and use Facebook ads to promote the website. In addition, we will continue passing out gospel literature and evangelizing in the streets.

Summer is a great time for training men! Flavius has been spending over twenty hours a week with me studying Systematic Theology among other things. His love for the Word of God amazes me. A few months after his conversion he memorized the entire book of 1 John and he can still quote it perfectly. During these past two months Flavius and I have been memorizing Romans. The wonderful thing is that it was his idea! He has also been preaching five-minute messages every week and is doing a great job. He has been helping me in every way possible. I thank God for giving me the privilege to train this young man for ministry. Paco is currently on vacation with his family but when he returns I will be teaching him and Flavius a wonderful course about the gospel written by a missionary friend to Morocco. Please pray for men! As a team my father and I are working hard to prepare both churches for the day that we go off to start more churches. We want to leave these churches with men trained and prepared for the ministry. We also want the churches to be ready to support these pastors financially.

As part of the process of training men we had the opportunity to take Flavius and Paco to Morocco last month. We joined a group organized by Alberto Puente, missionary to Sevilla. It was a great encouragement to all of us. We were able to visit two missionary families and hear the testimonies of Moroccan believers. It is thrilling to see what God is doing in North Africa. It was a reminder that the gospel works!  We cannot buy into the lie of the devil that some places are gospel-proof. Wherever the gospel is proclaimed and taught, it brings forth fruit! Continue praying for fruit in our ministry here in Spain. We want to see more people saved, leaders trained and churches started to the glory of God!

June 2015 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

The first Sunday of July we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Biblical Baptist Church of Colmenar Viejo, Madrid. As this special date approaches I am reminded of why we started the church. It has always been our vision to start multiple churches. When we arrived in Spain in 2010 we joined my parents and sister and brother-in-law who had started a church in Parla, Madrid about seven months earlier. From the beginning we explained to the Parla Baptist Church that one day it would reproduce another church. We didn’t know at that time how soon that dream would be realized. Exactly two years after our arrival the Lord began to work in my heart about starting a new work. It was God who opened up the door. I had been having Bible studies in the home of Eduardo and Angie Sedoski for several months in 2012. This couple had been saved in the Parla church but lived fifty minutes away in the city of Colmenar Viejo. It was so far away that it was hard for them to invite people to church. As we started making contacts in this city of 50,000 people it became clear that Colmenar needed a gospel-preaching church. A few months later it was born.

What has God done? The first thing we have witnessed is multiplication. We are now saturating two cities with the gospel. Everything we attempt for the glory of God has twice the impact. Evangelism, Discipleship and leader-training is happening in two places at the same time. Here’s another blessing: we are reaching new people that otherwise wouldn’t have had access to the gospel. How has this happened? Colmenar Viejo was saturated with invitations to the inauguration two times. We have distributed thousands of gospel tracts throughout the city. We started the “Come and See” Bible study on Thursdays and several unbelievers are being taught the gospel every week. We saturated the city five times with invitations to the “Come and See” Bible study. We started free English classes for young people followed by a youth Bible study. Our average weekly attendance for the church is between fifteen and twenty. Two recent converts are Javier and Harold! The former is one of Eduardo’s friends. For over a year I have personally shared the gospel with him and he has attended the “Come and See” Bible study. He has given a clear testimony of salvation and will be baptized shortly. The latter is a young man that was invited by his girlfriend. He is being discipled and growing in the Lord. This is why we believe in church-planting. What would happen if we started more?

This leads us to the task of training men. We will only see churches started in proportion to the men trained. Pray especially for Paco and Flavius, both members of the church in Parla who are preparing for ministry. We want to see more men trained. Thank you for your faithful prayer and support. Rejoice with us at what God has done!

New Disciple of Christ

Last week we had a men’s meeting in Colmenar Viejo and it was a great success. After the meal we had a time for Bible questions and discussion. During that time I asked those that attend the “Come and See” Bible study and those that have personal Bible studies with us to share a testimony of what they have learned so far. When it was Javier’s turn he said the following, “The more I learn about God, the more I want to know. I feel that I am attached to Jesus. I can’t get away from him.”

The following week I asked him about his testimony and he confirmed to me that he has decided to place his faith and trust in Jesus Christ for his salvation and become a disciple of Christ. God has been working in his heart for a long time. He is Eduardo’s friend and was invited to church by him. Eduardo has shared the gospel with him numerous times. I have personally spent hours sharing the gospel with him. He has faithfully attended the come and see bible study. His testimony is a reminder to me that it takes time. We are commanded to teach the gospel. We cannot get impatient because God is doing the work. Please continue to pray for his spiritual growth.

Dialoguing with teens

It has been two months since we started a free English class for teens in Colmenar Viejo. We now have a core group of ten students that attend the class faithfully. Most of these teens were invited by people from the Colmenar church. From the beginning our goals for the class have been the following:

– Make contacts with young people.

– Teach them the gospel.

– Make disciples.

We thank the Lord for what he has already done through this ministry! Through the class we have met thirteen young people. Not all of them have stayed but we now have new contacts. We have been able to share the gospel with all of them through the “Come and See” youth bible study that we have immediately following the English class. Not everyone stays for that but every week several attend. We have even been able to meet some of their parents. One mother has started attending church services recently.

One of the greatest blessings has been the salvation of Harold, one of the teens from the English class. He is fifteen years old. I meet up with him every week and teach him the Bible. He is now faithfully attending church services as well. Lord willing, he will be baptized soon.

I write this to compel you to pray for the youth of Colmenar Viejo and Spain. It has been wonderful to share the gospel with these teens and answer their questions but at the same time it has been heartbreaking. It is evident that some of them have never heard the gospel in any way before. Before the bible study I ask them to write down on a piece of paper a question about God or the Bible. We then answer the questions one by one. Here is a sample of some of the questions they have asked:

What are your reasons for believing that God exists?

If God exists, why doesn’t he manifest himself?

Is it necessary to believe in God?

Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have attributed things that they could not explain to a superior being, but that did not make their beliefs real. Why should we believe that God is real?

If God exists, why doesn’t he stop natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes?

Why did Jesus die? How could he rise again on the third day?

If Jesus did rise from the dead, how can I connect with him?

If you commit lots of sins, are you definitely going to Hell? Does Hell even exist?

Will you pray for these teens? Will you pray that God would give us wisdom in answering their questions? Will you pray that they would become disciples of Christ? Will you consider becoming a missionary to Spain?

March 2015 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

“Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” (Colossians 1:6) When the gospel is proclaimed it brings forth fruit! We have that promise in Scripture. In the three months since our return to Spain, we have seen numeric and spiritual growth in Parla and Colmenar. It all started in February with four baptisms! From the church in Parla, Lucas and Romina (brother-and-sister) were baptized. Then from Colmenar I had the privilege of baptizing Mayra and my own son, Ian. All of these were individuals to whom we had spent several months/years sharing the gospel. It was especially thrilling to baptize my son!

March started with two aggressive evangelistic campaigns for the city of Colmenar. First, we started English classes for young people between the ages of thirteen and twenty. We distributed three thousand invitations at all the high-schools in Colmenar. The flyer was two-sided. On one side was an invitation to the English class; on the other an invitation to a youth “Come and see” Bible study. The idea is to meet young people and share the gospel with them in order to start a youth ministry. Ten young people have already signed up. Please pray for this ministry! We were also able to saturate the city of Colmenar with invitations to our Thursday “Come & see” Bible study. This new evangelistic effort brought a new lady, Conchita, to the Colmenar church. She has been searching for the truth for years. She now comes faithfully to every service. She has been very open to the gospel message. Pray for her salvation. We have had others call about the Bible study. This ministry has been a great tool for us to present the gospel to many here in Colmenar.

Last week we took twenty members from Colmenar and Parla to a Youth Summit organized by my good friends Alberto and Francisco Puente (missionaries to Sevilla). It was a great time for them to learn more about the need for the gospel around the world. I was able to teach a class and translate for another good friend, Travis Snode (missionary to England) as he taught and preached. On the last day of the Summit an invitation was extended for anyone that wanted to get saved. We were all thrilled as Luis, Flavius’ friend, came forward. My father and I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with him for almost an hour. That day he trusted Christ as his personal Savior. The next day he came to church and gave a public testimony of his faith in Christ. Flavius is going to begin discipling him immediately. It’s great to see disciples making disciples and it’s great to see the youth group in Parla grow. Please continue to pray for the ministry here.