It's a CHURCH!
By Kristy Johnson
A Son Is Born
We couldn’t believe our eyes! In June 2000, we watched as our firstborn child, Alejandro, came into the world and was carefully placed into our arms. As new parents, we weren’t sure how we would handle this new responsibility. After a nine-month wait, we were thrilled to see how God answered so many prayers for our little one’s safe arrival. It’s a boy!
A Daughter Is Born
In January 2003, Ana was born and won our hearts from the moment her precious eyes gazed into ours. She was so tiny and beautiful and completed our family perfectly. Again, we realized our insufficiency as parents and begged God for grace and wisdom as we journeyed through parenthood with her. It’s a girl!
A Church Is Born
Our eyes filled with excitement three years later when we watched people walked through the door for our very first church service in Alpedrete. It was the moment for which we had been waiting. Our storefront building had been renovated, and everything was ready for the big day. Eighteen people from many different backgrounds filled the main room of the church, joining as the Body of Christ in Alpedrete.
One lady told us she couldn’t believe a church was finally in her town. The tears streaming down her face reminded us God had providentially placed us in Alpedrete, a town where the motto is “Heart of Stone.” Many stone-cold hearts in this small pueblo needed to be softened. And this was just the place God planned for people to come and find out about His love for them. It’s a church!
Alejandro and Ana didn’t stay babies very long. They grew into children who wanted someone to read them books at night, help them with schoolwork, and chauffer them to various afterschool activities. I remember vividly when they were first learning to ride their bikes. Tim ran after them, holding on to the back of their bicycle seats while they pedaled unsteadily around the park. Not only did they eventually get the hang of riding their bikes, they also found their God-given talents in learning new languages and playing and singing in our church’s music group. Those tiny babies grew into teenagers.
The Alpedrete church, just like our children, started off in a newborn stage. The early days were filled with late nights of preparation, little sleep, and lots of spoon-feeding as we taught members how to grow as a church. As missionaries, we led music, taught classes, preached sermons, cleaned the church, and spent many hours laying the groundwork for what would become a new church plant.
As we busily ministered, we also tried to teach others to do these things. Soon, they began to try out their training wheels. They took on new responsibilities like sponsoring ladies’ meetings, organizing evangelistic events in a local fair, and working with the Evangelical Olympics in Madrid. They found their God-given talents and used them each Sunday to teach children’s classes, lead music, preach sermons, and do what needed to be done in the church. They attended Bible studies where they learned about spiritual gifts and doctrines and apologetics. They soon became a mature group of believers, serious about loving God and ready to share His love with those around them. This newborn church was growing.
A Child Leaves the Nest
Our emotions were high when we drove off the campus of Welch College on a balmy day in August 2018. We had just said final goodbyes to Alejandro, after helping him set up his dorm room and register for classes. It was bittersweet to watch him fulfill his dreams and goals while stepping out of the nest. As hard as it was for us to hold back the tears, we knew we had spent the last 18 years preparing him for this moment. He was ready.
A Church Leaves the Nest
We are also filled with emotion as we observe the Alpedrete church taking steps to leave the nest and fly on its own. We’ve watched members struggle through the years, and we’ve seen God graciously bring them through many difficult times. We’ve often experienced the same emotions we felt that August day when we left our son at college. Will they be okay? Will they continue to grow? Will they be able to handle all the responsibilities coming their way? But deep down in our hearts, we know they are ready.
Empty Nest, Full Hearts
We will soon be on the other side of parenting the two precious children the Lord has given us. One has left the nest and the second is teetering on the edge, ready to test her wings and fly away to college in a few short years. Even though our nest is starting to feel a little empty, our hearts are filled, knowing both our children have chosen to follow God’s call on their lives.
We are also almost to the other side of planting a church in Alpedrete. As we look toward this transition, we remember the admonition Paul gave the new church at Philippi: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6). May God fill each person in the Alpedrete church with this vision as they walk into the future and continue to fulfill the good work God began in them a few short years ago.
We couldn’t be prouder to announce: “It’s a CHURCH!”
About the Writer: Kristi Johnson and her husband Tim have worked as church planters in Spain for over 20 years. Along with their children Alejandro and Ana, they enjoy exploring new cities and trying new foods along the way. Learn more: www.IMInc.org