Sunday, June 11, 2006
A Prelude To Prayer...
As you may or may not be aware, we have asked our supporters and readership to join us in a week of prayer and fasting for the nation of Spain. In that spirit, I wanted to give you some information about Spain that I have learned since we have been here. When praying and beginning to intercede on behalf of anyone, sometimes a little knowledge helps us know how to pray or at least where to begin. Spain today is exceptionally diverse in it's landscape and people. Each town has distinctives about itself that make the people who live there very proud and very independent. We live in the province of Cadiz, in the city of Jerez De La Frontera, in the area known as "Andalusia." Andalusia is known for her white cities and the people are thought to be people who like to laugh, which is a good spot for me, though it is exceptionally hot, sometimes to hot to laugh!
In the northern part of the country, the separatist Basque live and are not well liked by most Spaniards. Some have taken the position as separatist extremists I am told from several Spaniards. In fact, just a day or so ago, the President of Spain Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, released several Basque prisoners in exchange for further semi-peaceful relations. This did not sit well with many Spaniards.
Which microcosmically speaking is what the political scene is all about. President Zapatero is not well liked by many of the very traditional Andalusians that I have talked to. From the very beginning of his presidency, a shadow has covered his term of office. The day before the national elections were held, the bombing of the train in Madrid happened. It was attributed to terrorism, and President Zapatero's leanings toward troop withdrawal from Iraq and Basque appeasement swung the vote in his direction. Many of the older folks that I have spoken to are very upset and blame him for the rapid moral decline of the nation's youth. He has legalized homosexual union, has given more power to the Basque, and has not engendered good relations with the United States. These problems seem to plague his presidency from the view of the man on the street.
Of course, the young people might tell you that the Catholic Church is the one to blame for the immorality issues in Spain. From 1936 on until 1978, Spain was controlled by the Catholic Church, General Francisco Franco making sure that Spain was firmly held in the tight grip of the clergy. His dictatorship over the country after the Spanish Civil War was brutal, but the lasting affect was that church was mandatorily attended. When Franco died in 1975, the country was given "Freedom of Religion" as a right. One young man, about 25, told me that he believes that this is when the immorality began to really plummet to new lows, as "the church began to lose control over the people."
Today, most of the youth that one talks to looks at the church as an outdated organization. Youth are more likely to embrace atheism than Catholicism or Islam. As a result, teen pregnancy and abortion rates are up in the stratosphere, as well as drug abuse and vandalism. There is a real separation now between the Catholic Church and the youth who find no genuine comfort or love from them.
This is a small idea of what the landscape is like here in Spain. Her history is riddled with violence against Christianity and Judaism in the form of the Inquisition and violence against her own people in the form of a brutal dictatorship that many still living remember quite well. This is the place our hearts have been called to and you can see why it is both an incredible opportunity and a daunting task.
Over the next several days, I will be posting the topic of prayer for the day. We will pray until Friday, focusing our attention on these subjects that the Lord lays on our hearts. I will put them up when I wake up every morning, around 10:00PM PST. We appreciate your partnership with us in this special week of prayer for the nation of Spain. I know that whatever happens, we will be enriched by the process, as we intercede on behalf of the wonderful people of Spain.
Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,