For Such a Time as This

 

This column highlights the ministries of Disciple's parent organization, Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International, a non-denominational missions agency. 

We can read the book of Esther in just a few minutes and see the wonderful design of God in her life, but it must have played out very differently in a day by day, moment by moment description.

For the last 16 years, AMG has been ministering in the southeastern corner of Spain to an innumerable group of nationalities. Each has come to Spain for a different reason-refugees, opportunists, dreamers, those running from something, and the list could go on. The Restrepo family prepared for ministry in many ways: education, internship, and hands on work in the Bronx, N.Y., Uruguay, South America, as well as Barcelona, but nothing prepared us more than the formation of our early lives.

God had a plan and began to fashion it in our childhood. Rafael, the son of an immigrant family, learned to deal with language, culture, and simple survival. Mary is one of eight children from a rural farm in the Midwest. These are two different worlds brought together to minister to the nations that would congregate in our corner of Europe.

AMG has been doing everything from social work to seeking out employment for the needy, from housing to immigration advisers, and all so that we could win some for the Gospel of Christ. Today, AMG has two churches in southeast Spain in the cities of Murcia and Torrevieja, and one in the northeast in Barcelona. Between the three churches, we have had over 20 nationalities represented and all the cultural adjustments that this brings. Two of the churches started in a living room. Today, the Murcian church is fully independent and the Torrevieja church is almost there. The Barcelona church has been independent since 1995.

AMG serves the cities of Murcia, Torrevieja, and Barcelona through the ministry of the Restrepo family. Barcelona was added about 3 years ago when the church that had been turned over to a national pastor by missionaries Rafael and Mary, called asking for help after the retirement and then soon death of Pastor Orellano Perez. At this point, AMG (through Rafael) serves more in an advisory position visiting and meeting with the elders and preaching in Barcelona on a regular base.

But the Iberian Peninsula is not the only point of interest for AMG Spain. From Spain, we serve three other countries. One is Cuba, offering financial and logistical support to the "Las Palmas" Bible school and the national pastors which receive help from Spain and from AMG International in the U.S. The education program is a team effort with the Esepa Seminary in Costa Rica, Central America, and a coalition of churches and organizations in the USA and Canada. This partnership has existed since 2002 with incredible advancement. God has truly smiled upon this island.

The next area of influence is North Africa. AMG has been helping with supplies and other matters since 2005. Teams have gone in to donate time in orphanages, visit various works, and deliver much needed Christian material in Arabic and local languages. This work is slower than Cuba but just as fulfilling. A new partnership is in development since our last visit in June 2011. Please pray for wisdom and safety. There is much opposition from the Muslim governments. New projects into other areas are planned, but we must find God's appointed time.

In September 2010, AMG Spain ordained and commissioned our first Spanish missionaries. Rene and Jenny Cuellar graduated from the AMG Bible School in Murcia in 2009. They have gone to Bolivia to work in the jungles of the plains. Since their arrival, they have been asked to help a group of believers that live over 250 miles into the jungle. They have established a work and have recruited help from a church in Santa Cruz. At this point, they are supported entirely from the AMG churches and families in Spain. Please pray for these dear brothers to remain faithful to their calling and to gain strength and wisdom from God.

After 25 years of missionary work, Rafael and Mary Restrepo realize that God had been preparing them for such a time as this-to reach the nations that would congregate because of immigration to the Iberian Peninsula and from this peninsula reach to other areas of the world. AMG's desire is to empower nationals to reach their own. It was longtime organization president Spiros Zodhiates' dream, and it lives on today through the ministry of others. Won't you ask God how He has prepared you for such a time as this?

Please pray, please give, please dream as we together empower in others the ministry of the Gospel.

Rafael Restrepo and his wife Mary serve with AMG International in Torrevieja, Spain.

Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International is a non-denominational, international missions agency based in Chattanooga, Tenn. AMG's distinctive has always been its reliance on national workers to carry the Gospel in their own cultures. Today, they operate ministries in over 40 countries around the world through partnership with national believers. 

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