March 2018 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

 There is no other gospel! That is one of the truths that we learn in the book of Galatians. It is the knowledge that only the gospel of Christ has the power to free men from the bondage of sin that keeps us going on as missionaries. Spain needs the gospel that Paul received from Christ and was entrusted to preach in the first century. We have just started studying the book of Galatians in both churches. We want to remind the believers that the gospel is not only something that you believe in order to be saved, it is the foundation and engine of our entire Christian lives. It also has implications. If you believe the gospel you will live a certain way. My greatest joy in studying the book of Galatians is that I am studying it with three other men preparing for ministry. Every week we gather to discuss the upcoming message and evaluate the previous message. It is one of the most encouraging things I get to do as a missionary. I get to spend time with and invest in men that are faithful students and expositors of the Word of God. 

Last month four new believers were baptized in the Parla Baptist Church! One of the girls that was baptized is Nadia, Paco’s daughter. As many of you know, Paco was one of the first converts in the Parla church. He came to the church because he had received a gospel DVD in his mailbox. The first Sunday that he came he stood outside the church and asked his baby daughter Nadia, “Should we go in or not?” The little girl nodded in approval and the rest is a wonderful testimony of the power of the gospel. Paco was saved about a month later and Veronica, his wife, shortly after. Paco is now a pastor in training. He has faithfully raised his daughters in the fear of the Lord and is now beginning to see the fruit. One of the most exciting things about pioneer missions is when the second-generation starts coming to faith in Christ. 

The church in Colmenar is also growing! We are working to improve the worship service so that every aspect of the service clearly communicates the Word of God and displays the gospel. We want the believers to live a life of active evangelism in their neighborhoods and workplaces. We want it to be natural for them to invite their friends to church because they are already sharing the gospel with them in private. We want to make sure that when they do invite their friends to church they are going to receive a clear gospel invitation. One of the ways that attendance is increasing is through child birth. We are excited to announce that we are expecting our fourth child! The baby will be born either in August or September. Please pray for Faviana’s pregnancy. She is a little nervous because she had a difficult pregnancy with our third. We know, however, that God is in control. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support! God bless.

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.

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.

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).

 

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.

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!

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.

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.

January 2015 Velasquez Family Update

Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,

By the time you read this letter we will already be in Spain. It’s good to be home! We will miss our home church however. We have greatly enjoyed spending our furlough with them. We couldn’t ask for a better church. The Sunday before we left they had a special blessing service for us. The entire service was designed to be a help and encouragement to us. At the end they gave us a box full of notes from the different members. During times of discouragement we will have these letters as a reminder that we are loved by our church back home. We have enjoyed spending time with all of our supporting churches. We thank God for so many churches and individuals that are holding the ropes for us.

When we first arrived in Spain in 2010 my parents and sister and brother-in-law were there to pick us up. This time we were received by believers from the church in Colmenar Viejo. They are our family in Christ. We are united by a love for Christ and a passion to reach Spain with the gospel. This time we are not alone. We have others that have joined in on the mission. As we did at the beginning we will hit the ground running. We have much work to do as we plan for 2015. The task before us is great! More unbelievers need to be evangelized! More leaders need to be trained! More churches must be started! We know that God is the one that is doing the work, but we are conscious that time is short and our responsibility great. Pray that we would see God work during our second term.

Please keep Eduardo and Angie in your prayers. They helped us start the church in Colmenar. They are faithful and dedicated believers. They have recently experienced several financial setbacks. Eduardo is in desperate need of a job to provide for his family. They have remained faithful through it all and are a great example to others. Eduardo is a huge part of everything that is being done in Colmenar. Also, pray for Flavius. He is currently preparing to go into the ministry. He is studying several Bible courses and learning the practical aspects of ministry. Our hearts desire is to see young people saved and trained for the ministry. Paco is still doing an excellent job teaching the adult Sunday School class. When I first arrived none of these men were serving God. I can’t wait to meet more people that God is going to save and use in the ministry. Lord willing during our next furlough we will have many more stories to share of God’s transforming grace. If I could summarize what God taught me during my first term it would be this: The gospel works! We have seen it work in the past and we know that it will work in the future. Once again, thank you so much for partnering with us during these past four years. God Bless.