I’m leaving today for a week long trip to Barcelona, Lisbon, and Madrid. This was a trip postponed while I was in the throes of “the discipline of unpleasant things” over the last month. Now we are fairly settled in our cozy two bedroom apartment- which by the way is remarkably pretty and quiet. We have flowering trees out all our windows, and cannot hear a sound at night. We’re starting to cook again and eat in, do laundry and keep “house,” getting back to some semblance of normalcy. We’ve been doing a good bit of babysitting for our grandchildren lately, which offsets the normalcy somewhat, just when we think we’re making progress. They are a delight, but an exhausting delight for both of us.
I’ll be in Barcelona over this weekend (8-10 May), observing the work of Xavi Memba (on the right below) founding pastor of Ciutat Nova 22@ (which loosely translates into New City Church, located in the lively 22@ district in the heart of the city). Now that I am full-time with City to City, and having spent nearly three years as a CTC volunteer staff, I have a greater obligation to look into all matters of church life, offer the usual encouragements, and make recommendations as I need to. I am no longer in the “check with my boss” mode of operations, having been given increased authority and responsibility as Church Planting Catalyst for Southern Europe. Xavi’s a good guy and is doing a great job, and I always look forward to visiting Barcelona, one of my favorite cities, and spending time with him.
On Monday I’ll be off the Lisbon, to check on a new church plant in Bairrho Alto, a needy borough consisting of two peoples: the so-called day people, who live and work there, and the night people, young people from all over Lisbon and the surrounding country, who come to party. Bairrho Alto is THE party capitol of Portugal if not all of Europe. The challenge there is to figure out a way to minister the gospel to both groups, and establish a solid work. In addition, I will meet with several Lisbon pastors and missionaries to put the finishing touches on a conference that they will be hosting in conjunction with City to City, titled “Iberia 21,” a conference designed to equip, encourage and accelerate church planting in the Iberian peninsula. It will be held June 15-17.
Finally, I get to go to Madrid for the first time, to meet some of the leading pastors and church planters there. Xavi knows many of them and will be my tour guide for Madrid. Madrid is one of our target cities, and there is church planting activity underway there. My task on this trip will be to listen, learn, and consider strategic steps forward to help facilitate a network of like-minded pastors and church planters. I’m excited for my first experience with this great city. And if things work out, I may be able to catch the second leg of the Champions League face-off between Real Madrid and Juventus in Madrid on 13 May.
More on the back end. God is at work. An amazing privilege to see what’s happening in Europe.