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.

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.

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!

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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.

 

 

 

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.