Sabbatical year

“Why Spain?” and a Ray family update

When people have heard that we’re going to serve with a missions organization, they’ve been surprised to hear that we’re going to Spain.

“Spain? I would have thought you’d be going someplace in Africa. What do missions organizations do in Spain?”

Our world is witnessing an interesting change in religious demographics. In the map to the right, the countries in red represent what’s referred to as the “Global South.” (There’s some dispute over these lines. Some want to make China blue. Some want to make Russia red.) The countries in blue are generally the wealthier countries of the world, with advanced economies. And for most of the past two millennia, most Christians lived in those blue countries.

But that’s changing. Quickly.

By 2050, a reliable estimate I’ve seen shows the USA as the only blue country in the top 9 largest Christian communities.[1] Christianity is quickly becoming a religion primarily of the Global South. A few decades ago, no one would have expected that the first American Pope would be Latin American.

Before, the spread of the gospel and new churches were needed most in the same places where the economies were the worst. Now the situation is changing. Some of those blue nations are the places where Christianity is waning most, and where further decline is expected. In many of them, there are still relics of Christianity, but the number of devoted, practicing Christians is small.

And so, for a group that’s focused on sharing the gospel, training new believers to become leaders, and starting new churches, some of those blue areas in the Global North are important places to be. That’s why the people we’re serving with have been devoted to Spain for thirty years. It’s what gave us such an interest in serving there. See our post on Madrid, the Cummings, and what we’ll be doing for more.

An Update and some prayer requests

We have a contract on our house! This was our biggest next hurdle, and we’re relieved to have cleared it. We’ll rent the house from July 2013 through June 2014. And our renters are also allowing us to use our basement as storage – an incredible blessing.

We will be almost entirely out of the state at the end of June – in Florida with family for a week, then in Indiana for training for three weeks. We’ll be out of the country sometime right around the end of July.

Please pray for us especially on our next practical matters:

  • We’re praying that our visas will all go through in time (so that we don’t have to fly back from Spain to Chicago to get them).
  • We’re praying for wisdom and discernment and the right place to come available in Algete and the same about a vehicle there. We’re trying to find the right balance between simplicity (small apartment, no vehicle) and making sure that we’re not limiting ministry opportunities in Algete (an apartment that is large enough to invite people in and the ability to get where needed). We want to be frugal and live simply without being cheap and hindering ministry.
  • We’ve been told by several people now that we might be surprised at the tough spiritual climate where we’ll be. That we need to be prepared for our own growth and we need to have people praying for our spiritual health. We would really appreciate your prayers for that.
  • Pray for our kids. We’re trying to be sure we’re making all the best decisions for them regarding schooling in Spain and how to help them through such a major time of transition.

We’ve been overwhelmed by some of your offers of financial support. Especially as we are making important decisions and trying to not let financial concerns dominate every decision, your support has been tremendously helpful. I plan to write more in the future about what a surprisingly humbling and encouraging experience it has been to receive financial support. A truly unexpected blessing for me. Sincerely, thank you!


1. The other eight: Brazil, Philippines, Ethiopia, D. R. Congo, Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, China. From The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins, 3rd edition, page 113.

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