It’s been a year since the Celebrate Recovery mission to Spain and France so I (Ardis Nelson) recently contacted our missionary partners in those countries for an update on CR.
CR Update from Spain
If you were to look at the fruit one year later in Spain specifically,
it may not look like much. You can’t point to the launch of a CR program at any local churches. You can’t point to continued training of the participants. What you can point to is that the message was received and is being welcomed by the seminar attendees.
We left the attendees with Spanish copies of Life’s Healing Choices (Ocho Decisiones Sandoras), written by John Baker, co-founder of Celebrate Recovery. This book breaks down the 12-steps into recovery choices or principles that are more easily understood in individual and small group settings. Some of the seminar attendees have worked through that book and are eager to share the information they learned.
The CR content is also being integrated into the curriculum being taught at the John Wesley Bible Institute (launched after our seminar). Another exciting development shared by my missionary partner in Madrid, Pastor Josh Fajardo, is that he has been meeting with an evangelical priest interested in the program.
CR Update from France
While in Spain where CR has barely been introduced, in France there is one known CR (Une Vie Renouvelée) group that is up and running. That group is led by my missionary partner in Grenoble, Marvin Klein, at E.P.E.G.E. where I shared my testimony. That CR ministry has been active for two years.
Regular attendance at the weekly meeting is 16 people—10 men and 6 women. These participants are wrapping up the ministry’s inaugural step study groups and preparing for leadership. Consistency and momentum grew in the women’s group following my visit.
Marvin also shared with me that they are working on making the ministry more visible to the outside and plan to create a video about the program. He has continued contact with a friend who attended the Spain CR seminar who is interested in applying the CR material to teens and young adults. Marvin is also in communication with a French priest and a missionary in Barcelona who are both interested in the program.
Spiritual Climate & Prayer Intercession
What bears repeating in this context is how the spiritual climate affects the outcome of any type of ministry. Quite frankly, my experience with this mission and breaking ground for CR in a foreign country is no different than what I’ve witnessed at some of the local CR ministries—with below to average group size (25 as quoted at Saddleback Church) even after years of running the program.
And this is in a spiritual climate that is open to growth, healing, and vulnerability. It takes commitment to keep a CR ministry running week after week and year after year—nurturing, training, and motivating the leaders, and spreading the word by sharing testimonies in the church and the community.
What I believe can make a difference in these countries—and especially Spain—is having a continued partnership with the church in Rivas, and for fervent ongoing intercessory prayer. When the original mission was scheduled, an organized prayer journey led by Pastor Josh was part of the trip. For reasons unrelated to the mission, the prayer journey segment of my trip was cancelled. I recently received word that the prayer journey has been rescheduled for next spring.
I bring this up in the context of preparing for a harvest in Spain by praying for a shift in the spiritual climate. That is what I did during my visit to Spain in the summer of 2013. I prayed throughout the country while on my own personal pilgrimage—through churches and cathedrals, and even just walking through the city streets. I didn’t know why the Lord called me to do it, or how He was going to use it. But I believed He would. Then six months later, Pastor Josh invited me to Spain to teach about CR. I didn’t see that coming!
I knew going into the mission what the spiritual and cultural climate was there. I liken my trip to Spain in 2013 to how Moses sent 12 men to explore the land of Canaan (Numbers 13). They came back full of fear. That led to 40 years of wandering in the desert. I was a bit fearful before I went on the mission last year. However, I faced those fears and did what God called me to do.
I’ve been on sabbatical from my main leadership role at CR since the beginning of this year. Hence, the absence of posts published on this blog. However, on the positive side, this site gets a lot of traffic, is a resource for recovery beyond our local ministry, and has provided visibility to the CR efforts in Spain and France.
While on sabbatical this year it has sometimes outwardly looked like I’ve been wandering in the desert. What I have been doing on the inside is digging deeper into my own healing, praying fervently for Spain, and discerning my next steps.
That is where the prayer journey comes in. I know I’ve been called to pray for Spain’s spiritual renewal and healing. I can do that from here, or I can do it on Spanish soil—Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Malaga, and Seville.
What I didn’t do on my first pilgrimage was research the spiritual history or context before my trip. I prayed as I was led by the Holy Spirit. Before last year’s trip, I did research on the religious history of both Spain and France. It helped me to pray in specific ways for healing in those countries.
Spain and France both felt spiritually dark to me—and I’m used to living in one of the least churched states in the United States (Washington). After reading up on their religious history, I understand why. With decades of religious wars in France and 300 years of the Inquisition in Spain, the land in these countries is scarred with the blood of religious martyrs.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about the prayer journey and Spain’s religious history and climate on my personal site, ardisanelson.com. I’m also praying for discernment for my next steps in the spring.
This is not a CR conference or part of a CR mission. However, I do feel called to make the cause visible to others who are interested in seeing Spain in this context. For more information, click this link, or download the brochure about the trip and conference, Spain-Prayer-Journey-2016. This conference and prayer journey is held in conjunction with the Fajardo’s church in Rivas (where the CR conference was held last fall).
This is a great opportunity to visit a foreign country and do missional work without getting your hands dirty. As Pastor Josh is fond of saying, “Spain doesn’t need any more church buildings; we need to reach the lost.”
Please consider and pray if the Lord is calling you on this journey. The spiritual soil is very hard in Spain. The Lord needs his workers to till the soil, and to breathe new life into the Church through prayer.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” (Luke 8:5-8, NIV)
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.