Hola amigos y familia! It has been exactly one week since our team returned home from the Canary Islands, and there has been much to reflect on since then. Though our time in the islands was short, I believe that God made a significant impact both in and through our team.
Ministry in the Canaries comes with some interesting challenges. The population of believers is very small, and yet Christian tradition and imagery is rooted deep within the culture. While the cross and scenes of the Passion are commonplace, the depth of their meaning is lost. It seems to me that the perception of the Gospel is much like a beautiful painting that’s been damaged by a history of church corruption and blurred by atheistic or relativistic world views. Therefore, approaching people with spiritual conversations is a process that takes the meticulous patience of one restoring a priceless work of art. As a short term mission, our team’s role was three-fold: to build relationships with the people that we met at practice and competitions, to get them connected with local ministries, and to encourage the local church bodies with faithful believers trying to shine the light of Christ in spiritually dark place. For the sake of keeping this post brief, I will focus on our role of building relationships.
Meeting athletes was challenging at first, especially because communication was difficult. But by the grace of God and odd mixture of Spanish and English, we were able connect with people in a meaningful way. We even found that many of the athletes we met remembered Athletes in Action groups from previous years, which helped us pick up on the rapport that had already been established. Ian and Zach were able to share a bit about their relationship with God because a couple of athletes wanted to know why they had AO1 written on their gear. AO1 is short for Audience of One, which is a reminder to Christian athletes that our identity is rooted first and foremost in our relationship with Christ. Both of the guys responded positively, and one even wanted to write AO1 on his javelin. Another athlete stayed long after practice twice to talk us distance runners on the team, and we were able to give him and athlete’s devotional the day before we left.
In Corinthians 3:7 Paul says that one man plants, another man waters, but only God makes things grow, so please join us in praying that the little seeds we scattered will continue to be nurtured, and that God will radically change the hearts of our newfound Canarian friends.