On Sunday the 26th of January 2020, I preached in a Bilbao International Church that meets in the Baptist Church in Bilbao, Spain. That morning I was preaching to the Spanish congregation. It was a cold morning, and I was excited, nervous, and looking forward to sharing the Word of God in Spanish. The Council of Mission Overseas sent a small team of three to visit our missionaries, Derek and Jane French, living and working in Spain for many years.
The short mission trip took us from Dublin to Paris and Paris to Bilbao. Our flight was an early one from Dublin airport. It was an early start, and I needed to be ready at seven in the morning ready to catch the coach from Lisburn to Dublin airport, the truth is that I almost did not make it, the coach was waiting for me! Our flight to Paris was pleasant, and things got a bit tricky when we could not find the right gate to get to our second flight to Bilbao.
As we looked for signs, tv monitors and trying our best to read French we came across a group of about fifty people who were all lined-up just outside to what looked like a departure gate waiting, I think, for another group. We were walking fast, and all I can remember is that all of them were wearing facemasks. They were either coming from or going to an Asian Country.
I remember the three of us looked at each other, but no one said a word, our goal was to get to our gate. In most Asian countries, it is common to be wearing a facemask, mainly because of their cities’ poor air quality, but this was Paris international airport. We knew enough about the pandemic and how fast it was spreading. We managed to get to our departure gate with sufficient time to get a coffee! That short, and even insignificant part of our mission trip stuck with me, was it a sign of what was about to unfold? I don’t know, but what I know now, and I knew then, is that we were there for a purpose and a mission. To learn about the church plant in Bilbao and seek ways under the Holy Spirit’s guidance to plant a seed, encourage our Mission Partners and give a blessing to our brothers and sisters in that city.
That Sunday morning, I preached from the letter of First Peter and in this letter, we can hear God speaking to us about who we are in him, a “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV11) We are his most precious people, and we are here to become the vessels of blessings to the nations, to bring forth his light in dark times and to bring praise to Him, who has called us from darkness into his marvellous light! Because in dark times the light of the Gospel, of God’s presence among us is clearer for all to see.
Church, thank you for allowing me represent you last year in Bilbao.
Rev. Dario Leal
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