Flying in circles over Spain
By A. Ray Lee
We were flying home from Spain after the final partnership mission sponsored by the Alabama Baptist Convention. The flight was smooth, and I had settled back in a window seat to reflect on what had happened over the past days.
The night before, all teams had met together in Madrid to report what they had experienced as they ministered in union with participating churches.
The reports had been mixed. Some teams were discouraged with the results of their efforts and were more than ready to return home, while others were rejoicing over what they felt had been accomplished.
As Effie napped in the seat beside me, I looked out through clear skies to the landscape of Spain far below. I was troubled by the thought that this might be the end of our relationship with Creu Alta.
God had blessed our ministry with the church. It seemed to me there was much more to be done – but how could that be, now that the official partnership was over?
As I thought upon these things, an authoritative voice aroused me out of my reverie. “This is the captain speaking. You might have noticed we have been flying in circles for an hour, awaiting air traffic to thin over the British Isles. We are now clear to go and will make all haste toward the USA.”
So far, the flight had been without a hint of turbulence – but for the past hour, we had not made any progress toward home.
Was there an answer to my question in the captain’s announcement?
We had been experiencing a smooth and profitable, albeit brief, relationship with the church in Sabadell, but were we just going in circles, or should we consider further ministries?
If so, decisions needed to be made concerning the future that would include Lebanon and Creu Alta.
We could opt out by simply doing nothing more, but would that not abort a work we were so sure God had begun? He had strongly led to this point.
Suddenly the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthian church came to mind: “A great and effectual door is opened,” but he had also added, “There are many adversaries,” I Corinthians 16:9.
The idea of a church-to-church partnership not dependent upon or related to any organized group began to take shape in my thinking. I believed Pastor Lorenz would be open to the idea, but there were many adversarial forces to hinder such a project. Those challenges included spatial distance, language and cultural differences and other concerns.
I had never, in 40 years of ministry, been audacious enough in faith to attempt a project such as this.
Now a great challenge was before me. Did I have enough faith in the providence of God to accept it?
Then other words of the apostle came to mind: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it,” Philippians 1:6.
We moved forward in faith, and a partnership was formed that benefited and blessed both congregations for many years.