April ’16 Prayer Letter

Dear praying friends,
With so much to talk about, I don’t have much room for intro this month, so I’ll get right to it!


Church growth
God has really been blessing with both spiritual and numeric growth: we continue to study through I John midweek, and in Sunday School and church service we are teaching and preaching through our 3 circles of doctrine: unity (the Gospel), clarity (key doctrines), and charity (important but not fundamental doctrines). We have averaged around 45 people in attendance on Sundays this month, which is huge for our church since we only have 50 chairs: thank God for how He builds His church!

Kids ministry
Our kids ministry (The Explorers) has really taken off this month, with about 10 kids in every service, and the church members have really stepped up: we are training 2 new teachers, have several new nursery workers, and they are doing a great job with the kids as they learn about Christ starting from Genesis and going through the entire Bible.

Family day at the park
Last year this was a huge success: we had 75 people show up, receive Gospel literature, and several joined the church as a result. On May 1st we will be repeating this activity, and are praying for much fruit!

Two men training for ministry
Pablo has taken great strides forward in his pastoral training, cutting back on work hours and spending at least 15 hours a week in studying and ministry. He is now in charge of the Youth Meeting on Friday nights, music lessons (a great outreach opportunity), preaches Lord’s Supper devotionals, and is training to take over the Thursday night meetings as soon as we finish our current series. I could not be more proud of this young man and God’s work in and through him. Aral, a man who has been attending faithfully for a year, has also greatly grown in his walk with Christ, and we are now working together to prepare him to lead and teach a cell group in his home. I am very grateful for his teachable spirit and desire to serve the Lord!

Melissa’s health
After several more ER visits, 3 days in the hospital, and 2 more misdiagnoses we are back to waiting for more test results to try to find the cause of her symptoms, so please pray that God will heal, guide the doctors, give patience and growth in our trust in God through this process. He does all things well!

Church Van
We are continuing to pick up 3-4 families every Sunday which requires 4-5 cars (all the cars in the church!), so we are really looking forward to having a church van. We have raised a good portion of the needed funds, but still need a little over $2000. Thanks so much to all who have given, and pray the rest comes in!

As always, thanks so much for being amazing supporters and prayer partners. It is not just our work, it is yours, and for God’s glory.
Yours for His Harvest,
The Newtons in Spain

March ’16 Prayer Letter (Emergency Rooms and Axe Murderers)

Strange title for a prayer letter I know, but it’s been a strange month! I’ll cover the topics of the bizarre title, but first here’s a quick ministry update to let you know what is going on in the church here:

Focused on the Gospel:

We have been meeting regularly as a church to take a close look at every ministry through the lens of the Gospel, and let it dictate both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of what we do as a body. It has been going really well, praise the Lord: people are understanding how the Gospel by which they were saved is a pattern for life and serving their brothers and sisters in Christ! People have also been very faithful in inviting friends and family to hear the Word, and we have had several new visitors in church this month.

Collaborating for the Gospel:

I had the pleasure of getting to meet up this month with a group of likeminded pastors and missionaries in Madrid with the purpose of working together in an organized and efficient way to create and disseminate Gospel-centered tools, both for use within our churches (discipleship, leader training, etc), and for evangelism (websites, videos, literature, etc). Autonomy of local churches ought not mean that we don’t work together for the Kingdom!
 
Ok, back to the weird title. First, the ER: Melissa has been dealing with anemia, b12 deficiency, weakness, pain, and other symptoms for months, and keeps getting worse. We have been in 4 hospitals this month and are awaiting test results that hopefully will give us some direction on where to go from here in treatment. Thankfully my parents were able to come over and help for a while with kids and ministry, as it was becoming very stressful trying to juggle everything. Which leads to the axe murderer comment..
Yesterday my parents and Melissa were at the shopping center getting groceries when a man nearly ran over a lady in the crosswalk. When my dad told him to slow down, he got out of the car, opened the trunk, pulled out an axe, and chased him into the store yelling ‘I’m going to kill you!’ Thank God the security guards were able to restrain him, and he was only able to kick him a few times and spit in his face before being arrested by the police. Today we had the court hearing, and the man will be going to prison. To make thing even crazier, the mother came up to us and said that her husband is an Evangelical pastor, and begged us to withdraw the charge (in Spain you have to press charges even if it’s a felony). We are praying that God brings good out of even insanity lke this, because that is what He loves to do. Thank God for His protection… missionary life is rarely dull!

Faithful Supporters 

A special thank you to those who have given to the fund for buying a church van, we have $500 already! Thanks for your faithful prayers and support, we need them both and love you all.
Yours For His Harvest,
The Newtons

January ’16 Prayer Letter

Dear Praying Friends,

This missionary stuff can mess with your head. We spent the last 2 months in the States, and were constantly asked, ‘How does it feel to be home?’ My daughter summed it up best, whispering to me, ‘Daddy… We AREN’T home, are we?’ Anymore none of us really know how to answer those questions, but ‘home’ is a fluid concept. We had a great trip where we were able to meet many new people, raise additional support we needed, spend time with our sending church, but only since returning to Spain last week do I feel ‘home’! Home pretty much equals where God wants to place you, and that’s a great place to be.
The Big Test
It is easy to talk about how great people are doing in their faith when you are constantly watching them, but it is hard to really know until you are not around them anymore. This trip was hard, but brought so much joy as we watched church members stay faithful to the Lord and to each other. They grew closer to each other in our absence, and act more like a real church family than ever. Pablo preached for the first time (full length), and did a fantastic job, people stepped up into different ministry roles in a great way, and the church even grew numerically, adding an elderly couple who live in the area. Their testimony thrilled me: ‘We came and visited, and, even though there was no pastor, we decided that this is the place for us to be. There is just a love for each other that is so evident in the church members, something has to be right!’
Strength in Weakness
Another huge testimony of spiritual growth happened with Pablo while we were away: his right eye was hurting constantly, so he went to the doctor, who misdiagnosed him, resulting in Pablo permanently losing his sight in that eye. When he called to tell me the news, I was shaken, and tried to console him, only to have him console ME: ‘Pastor, God is in control, right? Why are you sad? He wouldn’t allow this if it wouldn’t be good for me, and bring Him some glory!’ What can you even say to that? That’s so far beyond my ability to teach someone in a lesson or a sermon, that’s just Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering. Another man in the church told me the other day how much God used the situation in his own life, allowing him to see how he had not been trusting God with smaller situations, and that seeing Pablo suffer with joy made him want to know God in a deeper way. Praise God!
Living Stones
This last Sunday was so special: my first day back preaching, and we had several first time visitors to our fellowship meal and service. I preached on ‘5 Marks of a Gospel Centered Church’, and introduced a new initiative to teach our people how all of what we do as a church (discipleship, outreach, worship, etc) must flow from, and be patterned after, the Gospel of Christ. We are calling it ‘Piedras Vivas’, or ‘Living Stones’, and will be meeting every week before the service for an hour to teach and discuss each aspect of the church’s ministries. It is basically a combination Sunday School and workers meeting, and I would really appreciate your prayers that the church will stay excited about the Gospel and its implications!
Get Involved
Here are some quick things to think about and pray about to participate more in the work in Spain:
1. Skype us! We have had several churches do a video conference with our church, and both churches were encouraged. We want to be more in contact with you all!
2. Come help us! We always pray for more laborers to be raised up, and that may not even mean all coming as church planters! Consider this: one of the greatest outreach tools (for which I genuinely do not have time to develop) is teaching English, as many Spaniards want to learn for job opportunities. I am praying for interns to come for several months or longer to help with this. Contact me, let’s work together to build more bridges for the Gospel!
3. Invest! We are super grateful for our regular supporters, but I also get regular requests from people asking us to detail specific needs: right now we are trying to save and raise funds toward a church van, as we often have people who need to be picked up for church, and many in the church do not have vehicles. Our car fits our family, but no more. We can purchase a good van for around $6k.
Thanks so much for your faithful prayer and support!

Yours for His Harvest,

The Newtons

November ’15 Prayer Letter

One of the weirdest phenomena in the life of a missionary is not culture shock, but REVERSE culture shock. You expect to have a hard time adapting to your field (the language, the food, the culture, etc), but you don’t expect to have a hard time coming back to ‘your’ country! We have been really enjoying this trip back to the States, catching up with old friends and making new ones, but it has been interesting to see what strikes us as odd now. One of those is all the huge 4×4 trucks and SUVs, so in honor of that, this prayer letter is going to be 4×4: 4 things about 4 things.

4 states:

We have had meetings this month in OH, VA, IN, and GA! I find that I don’t really miss deputation all that much. It has been awesome to meet some new people and share what God is doing in Spain, but I miss living there, where a half hour is a long drive! Americans definitely spend more time in the car! We are currently in GA at our home church, and really enjoyed spending Thanksgiving yesterday with our good friends.

4 new supporters:

The reason for this short trip is to replace some of the support we have lost in the past couple years, and God has been so good to us already, 4 new supporters in a month is really almost unheard of. We have some really big outreach plans for this coming year to saturate our area with the Gospel, so it’s very exciting to see God providing the funds for them.

4 Sundays of good services without us in Spain:

I am not a worrier by nature, but I have really had to learn to trust in the Lord more in this situation. I also am finding out how much I overestimate my contribution to God’s work, the church in Spain is doing very well, staying faithful, growing in their faith and love for one another, and God has even brought in a new couple in our absence! I’m so glad that He is the One who builds the church, and that He lets me be a part of what He does.

4 songs Pablo knows:

Pablo has been doing a fantastic job in the church while we are away with many things, music included. Only problem: I was only able to teach him 4 songs on the guitar before we left, so the only complaint I hear from the church is ‘NEW SONGS PLEASE!’ I have to say, if that’s the biggest problem in our absence, I rejoice!

Please keep praying for our meetings while we are stateside, for God to raise up more laborers, bring in the support we need, and that the church will continue to faithfully grow in Christ this coming month. As always, thanks so much for being great supporters!

Yours for His Harvest,

The Newtons

September ’15 Prayer Letter

Dear Praying Friends,

 

August is a weird time to live in Barcelona: it’s kind of like ‘House Swap’, except with whole countries! Nearly all the locals leave at least for a few weeks if not the whole month, and the tourists flock in to take their place. Most of our church family stayed in town this year however, so we got to spend a good amount of time together, since many had vacation days.

What we’ve been up to:

  • Pablo preaching to the youth: Our Friday night youth services are still going well, and Pablo is doing a great job preparing a Bible lesson each week. Currently we are letting the young people anonymously turn in questions they’d like answered from the Bible, and we’ve covered things from the Trinity to dating to assurance of salvation. Praise the Lord!
  • Networking: I had the opportunity to preach out at several local churches this past month, which was a blessing to develop good relationships with other believers and workers!
  • Outreach: We have been distributing Gospel literature in our area, and have met several new contacts. Please pray specifically for a man named Domingo, who has been coming the past 3 Sundays, and it seems like the Lord may be really working in his heart to believe the Gospel.
  • Milestone: This past Sunday I finished preaching through our first book of the Bible, Colossians. It was such a joy to see new believers and others we’ve been discipling really latch on the amazing truths of our identity in Christ, and His supremacy in all things.

What we will be up to soon:

  • Bible Seminary: This next month I will have the opportunity to help another local pastor in teaching a course on expository preaching in his Bible Institute, as well as continue teaching the same course to Pablo. This is a ministry that I am praying to be able to devote more and more time to in the future as God raises up young men for the ministry!
  • Trip Stateside: We have only 2 months until our short furlough, and we are really praying that God will:
  • Refresh our hearts and minds as we take a step back and reevaluate the ministry He has given us,
  • Bless the churches we visit with a renewed excitement for missions,
  • Raise up more laborers for Spain,
  • Bring in the needed support to replace what we’ve lost,
  • Use this time to strengthen the church here in Spain as Pablo and others step up even more to lead and serve.

As always, thanks so much for keeping us in your prayers, God hears and answers them!

Yours for His Harvest,

The Newton Family

July ’15 Prayer Letter

Dear Praying Friends,

In 2008, a man named Juan Carlos was living in Tenerife Spain, learning for the first time how to be a disciple of Jesus. He began to feel a tugging at his heart when he thought about his wife’s hometown,  which had no strong church, and made a bold decision: they would move there to start one. He had never been trained for ministry, but knew God wanted a church in that place, so they went. He spent several years meeting only with his family, and quickly realized that God had not gifted him to preach, but instead of giving up he dedicated himself to his ministry of prayer as he continued to teach his family.

In 2008, Melissa and I were planning to go to South Africa as missionaries. One day I happened across an article about Catalunya Spain, and it just stuck with me. I idly began researching it, and was shocked to see that in a city of 5 million, Barcelona was only less than half a percent evangelical Christian! The next day my father called me, and randomly asked me if I had ever thought about Barcelona, because he was feeling burdened over the city and couldn’t find any missionaries going there. We decided to see if God would allow us to go.

In 2015, we launched a new church in the town of Ripollet, a suburb of BCN. For one of our first outreach campaigns we distributed 15k fliers inviting people to a free BBQ. A lady named Manuela, who was married to a man named Juan Carlos, found a flier, looked at the address, and told her husband, ‘This church is less than 100 yards from our house!’

4 months later, this family is at every service, cleaning the church, helping with ministry, inviting people, giving, and loving Jesus with all they have. Their teenage daughter Carla loves the new youth Bible study and invites her friends to hear their questions answered by the Bible. Every time I thank them, he says ‘you have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this.’

We don’t serve a God of coincidence, but of sovereignty. Understand that when God moves on your heart for a place, a person, a missionary, a ministry, it is because that sovereign God plans to DO something!

Thank you for praying and giving, and God more than ever is burdening my heart for more laborers, and I pray confidently that more will come, because I know my God is alive and well in Spain and desired to do more than we can ask or think. Reader, maybe you’re one of the people I’m praying for!

New ministry:

We hosted a fantastic group from Berean Baptist in NC this month that helped with more things than I can list, including launching the youth night. Pray that God keeps using it!

New opportunities:

Since we arrived in Spain we have lost over $1300 a month in support, which limits us. We are coming back to the States for 2.5 months to try to recover that, so pray that God opens doors and hearts to the ministry here!

Yours for His Harvest,

The Newtons

June Prayer Letter ’15

Dear Praying Friends,

3 months ago I sat down to write a prayer letter, and I remember thinking, ‘what in the world do I even say?’ We were just a couple months into the church plant, and Pablo, the young man I had been training who was deeply involved in every ministry, had just had his appeal turned down to keep him out of prison for a crime he willingly turned himself in for, which had committed years earlier before knowing Christ. We had just received the news that he would be serving 2.5 years, and both we and the church family were heartbroken. We asked for prayer that God would use him greatly while in prison, draw him even closer to Himself, provide for his family while we was serving his time, and that God would cut his sentence dramatically and miraculously short. Well, in case you ever wonder if God listens to you when you read a missionary’s prayer letter, and spend time before the throne interceding, Pablo has been able to help start a new Bible study for the other inmates, has been a faithful witness of the grace of God, has learned to rejoice in God even in a hard circumstance, and drawn closer to Him than ever before. His family has been well taken care of. And finally… I just got a phone call from Pablo last week telling me ‘I’m calling you from my brother’s car: I’m free!’ We are rejoicing more than words can say that this Sunday he will be back with us in church, serving and worshiping God without any legal burdens hanging over his head. Our little church family grew tremendously through all of this, and can’t wait to rejoice with him.

Also, this Sunday will be special for another reason: Javier (who accepted Christ about 6 months ago) will be following the Lord in believer’s baptism! I am so proud of him and his heart to follow Christ.

Diving in

We are pressing on studying through key doctrines on Thursday nights, and preaching through the book of Colossians on Sunday, and God is growing an ever deeper love for Christ and the Word in many hearts. Seeing how our position in Christ drives and empowers the Christian walk has really blessed our people.

Pressing Forward

Next month we plan to start a new youth Bible study on Friday nights, so please be praying that God will open doors and hearts to the Gospel. We have several teens already coming, and pray this will be a great chance to help them reach out to their friends and family.  We are also working at saturating the entire city of Ripollet with Gospel literature, and praying for new contacts and fruit from this labor.
Thank you doesn’t do justice to express how I feel when I remember how many of you read this letter and faithfully lift us up in prayer. We don’t take it for granted, and neither do our people here in Spain. Thanks and God bless!
Yours for His Harvest,

The Newton Family

 

April ’15 Prayer Letter

Dear Praying Friends,

I apologize for getting this letter out late, I feel like I’m just coming up for air! It has been a crazy but wonderful month, and more than ever I feel like a kite in God’s hurricane. We aren’t making anything happen by our power, but God is definitely at work in Barcelona! Here’s a rundown of how we spent the month:

Growing Together

This month we celebrated together for the first time as a church Resurrection Sunday, and the Lord’s Supper. It was one of the biggest highlights of my life in ministry to watch as God knit us closer to Him and to each other as we celebrated and remembered together His great work!

Growing Deep

We have been teaching through essential doctrines every Thursday night, which has been fantastic for newer believers. Specifically this month we have been highlighting believer’s eternal position in Christ, and I have been tremendously blessed to watch people delight in this truth who had never before understood the freedom of knowing that God will never allow us to fall from grace, never allow us to go back to our old life of darkness. Additionally, we have been preaching through the 2nd chapter of Colossians where we see that the entirety of our accusatory note before the Judge has been nailed to the cross and totally satisfied. What a privilege to see this powerful peace hit home for the first time!

Growing Wide

This last Sunday we had our first big promotional Sunday as a church, where we attempted to reach out to the community as a church family with the Gospel. Together with a group from BBC Fairfield OH, we were able to distribute 15k invitations for a special ‘Family Day’ BBQ at the park and church service afterward. We also gave out several hundred NT’s. We had a total of 9 first time visitors in the church, and around 65 people came to the BBQ where many also heard the Gospel for the first time! I was so proud of our people: I was able to delegate much of the planning and work for the event to people who were excited to serve the Lord and invite their friends and loved ones. We had 34 people in church on Sunday, our biggest week yet!

I am so thankful to all of you for your prayers and faithful financial support, and our fruit is your fruit. Thanks for being a part of what God is doing in Spain!


Yours for His Harvest,

The Newton Family