By Royce Chandler
I had heard for years that Barcelona, Spain would be a really hard place to establish the Lord’s church. It’s so far away . . . Juan Monroy and his liberal organization control everything . . . the people don’t seem to be as responsive as in other Spanish countries . . . it’s expensive to live there . . . etc. But when brother Efrain Perez told me his family had agreed to Philip Morgan’s plea for them to move from Chile to Spain, I was thrilled. My first thought was: “If anyone can get a solid work going in Spain, it’s Efrain and Elba Perez.” My visit with them (May 15-20) in the city of Badalona, just out of Barcelona, confirmed my feelings.
The Perez family moved to Spain in February of 1989. Efrain encountered a small group of about 10-12 Christians, the result of some efforts by institutional brethren, They were demoralized, completely disorganized, and knew very little about the Lord’s church or any other Bible subject. After talking and studying with them, they agreed to Efrain’s offer to work with them full-time. He immediately began arranging studies, calling on those who had left the Lord, organizing classes for the few children, teaching them on N.T. worship and the nature of the church, and began a weekly program to train any interested men in how to teach and preach. It is the same program of “preacher training” he used in Chile, which resulted in twelve men giving themselves to preaching and working with local churches in that country.
After a year’s work, with the Lord’s gracious help, the church has grown tremendously. They now average around 4045 in attendance, have a solid core of adults who seem capable of helping in a stable, mature fashion with the work, enjoy a wonderful group of young Christians and children who promise a lot of strength for the future, have good contacts in the cities of Grenada, Madrid, and Zaragoza, and there are seven men attending the “preacher-training classes” each week.
In June of ’89, the Perezes were joined by Gregg and Georgia Perkins, and Jerry Falk. These two young North American preachers located on the opposite side of Barcelona (El Prat) and began work on making contacts, while also working on their grasp of the Spanish language. Gregg and Jerry also have been doing an excellent work. Starting from scratch, they now have a small group of about 15-20. Within the past two months of April and May, they have baptized nine souls. These are in addition to seven Efrain baptized in the same period. So much for any idea that Spain is a difficult place for the Lord’s work! The most enthusiastic and compelling response to our visit among all the brethren was from these new saints in Spain. They planned an entire week of “togetherness” – involving both spiritual and social activities. Numbers of them enthusiastically accompanied us everywhere we went and allowed us to develop a close bond with them, in spite of the short amount of time. Hospitality, brotherly love, sacrificial giving of their time and meager resources, opportunities every evening for sharing spiritual thoughts and values: they provided us in great abundance.
As uplifting as this might sound, remember that these Christians are all located in the one area in and around Barcelona. There are still thousands of other cities and villages that have no Philip to ask, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” – no Philip to hear them respond: “How can we, except someone should teach us?”
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 20, p. 611
October 18, 1990