Hopeful Signs in Spain

Over the years, the campus ministry in Spain has progressed relatively slowly. Spanish students overwhelmingly rejected organized religion. Many associated it with a past political regime and repression.

But recently Agape Spain (Campus Crusade for Christ) has seen good response in Valencia to a new strategy – Q groups – pioneered by staff member Nacho Marqués. A Q group involves four or five students, believers and non-believers alike, forming a community and exploring together what it means to follow Christ. Once a month several Q groups gather in a larger meeting. They eventually multiply into a movement.

Last fall Spanish staff members were discussing Granada, the city in which Ferdinand and Isabella commissioned Christopher Columbus to sail west. Granada’s STINTers (short-term international students) were heading home, leaving campus directors Garrick and Dziu Roegner alone on campus.

That day the topic on everybody’s mind was Heartbeat Tallinn, scheduled for July 2012. “Why not do the same thing here as in Tallinn?” asked someone. “Let’s bring all our staff together for a week in Granada!” An excited discussion followed, resulting in a plan to bring everybody to Granada to try to start a Q group.

But the Roegners knew it would be a challenge. They and their team had had hundreds of spiritual conversations at the University of Granada, with little long-term interest. If anything were to happen, God would have to do it. So they backed up the Prayer requests began going out months before the outreach – for university doors to be open, for a room in which to meet, for God to prepare students’ hearts. Come early March, all campus staff members had gathered in Granada.

They asked God to bring five students to an introductory Q group – a stretch of faith, according to Dziu, for even two or three new students Teams set up information tables and laid down a large poster with the words, “Who is Jesus to you?” Students wrote down their thoughts – things like, “Jesus is the root of Western decadence” or “An imaginary being.” At the same time, other teams walked the campus and prayed. During the introductory Q group itself, a team prayed on campus, while the moms prayed together as they watched.

And God answered their prayers! Some 15 people came to the meeting, beyond their wildest dreams.

“In Spain,” says Dziu, “you don’t get that many people at any kind of campus meeting!” What will this encouraging beginning look like one year from now? God knows. Let us pray alongside the staff of Agape Spain for a wildfire of spiritual movement, spreading out from what the Holy Spirit has ignited in Granada.