Way down south: Tarifa

Camping in the pine trees on the most southerly geography of continental Europe – further south than a couple of African cities – was where we were the night before heading home. Being eaten by mosquitos,in spite of mosquito net was less than ideal!

Tarifa

Extreme points are often liminal spaces. In ancient times they had myths attached to them and likewise today there can be new age spirituality attached to them. With Jacob who fled his home we read that he had a major shaping dream at one of those places, a boundary place. In the dream he encountered angels, and likewise on his return he encountered an angelic meeting point. We might add to the liminal space that it was a strategic moment in his journey.

In coming to Tarifa we had now travelled as far west as we were going, and of course as far south as we could go. We had one more place to travel to (I hope to post on that tomorrow) and this would take us on the road past Gibraltar, the last place on this journey from Lugo via Santo Toribio (from May this year). Beyond Gibraltar Morocco might well pull us, and also in our travels the era of the Second republic (1931 to the Civil War) has come into focus. How can it not when for example 4000 of the priests in Madrid were killed. There will always be a next journey, but major phase of this journey ends on September 10th in Gibraltar.

In Tarifa the Lord gave a dream that had many parts to it, much of it relating to the planned time in Gibraltar. There were also tangential encouragements to Gayle and I in it. For example, we met a verbally hostile group who were not impressed with what we were planning and challenging us about our belief in God and how he could send suffering. They referenced one city where God was about to send judgement. We responded with a ‘God is not like that’ kind of response. Eventually even the most hostile calmed down, and the response was ‘we have never heard this about God in Spain’. Very encouraging. Beyond that one of the people in the crowd (a neighbour) said that he understood what we were about to do in Gibraltar and that he too had had a dream, then he went on to say ‘But do not forget Badajoz and the life threatening storm that is coming there tonight’. It was a heart cry.

The dream both helped give a strong focus on Gibraltar and re-shaped the next road trip which begins on Sunday.

Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia calling them over. His dream re-shaped their journey, when twice he found himself pushing for doors that did not open (Acts 16:8-10). I have often wondered about the vision of the man, for the open door he goes through is that of a woman, Lydia. Maybe he did meet ‘a man’, maybe the Philippian jailor was that man, maybe the vision got him there.

We will head to Badajoz over the next two weeks. We had forgotten it, mainly because it does not feature highly on the expulsions of the Muslims. It has a history as per elsewhere of being conquered during the ReConquista, and being a border city has been a strategic place of warfare and conflict, but expulsion-wise it has not stood out.

Badajoz has opened us up to Portugal, and as we were planning these next two weeks we were looking at Portugal and asking ‘when’. The next morning an email came in from David Vincent (London). He had just been in Portugal in the region of the main battle in the ReConquista (Ourique) and suggested that there was a connection to what we were doing. And then… a journey we made in July 2012 came back to mind which again highlighted that a door was opening now for us into southern Portugal. We now leave next Sunday with a re-shaped set of places to travel to. We will not forget Badajoz en route to Gibraltar.

Maybe we will find a strong ReConquista / expulsion connection. Maybe we will come over to help ‘a man’ and find ‘a woman’. Maybe but we are grateful for dreams and seek to take them seriously.

(We do have some thoughts on the significance of Badajoz for the era we are praying into, but are always surprised by what one discovers on the ground. No two geographies are the same. We are grateful for the connection in Tarifa and are wondering if we should sleep there again the night before we go to Gibraltar.)

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Granada to Cordoba via…

This was a 350kms day, starting out in Órgiva through Lanjaron (west gate to the Alpujarras), up to Granada, on to Jaen and La Carolina / Las Navas de Tolosa then to Córdoba. Granada – the last kingdom to surrender and clearly a city with an impressive history. We will revisit Granada at another time, connecting there with people of the land. This time we parked up (losing a hub cap on the way on the cobbled streets!) and climbed up to the central Mosque. Obviously, and understandably, seen as a symbolic achievement by those of the Islamic faith. What a challenge… freedom of religion? It is very provocative to realise that there is no physical level battle but our warfare is heavenly, and challenging to think of the NT context where faith in Jesus was for so long a miority belief in the public arena.

We were in Cordoba by the end of the day and the next morning. This is truly an impressive city, modern and a clear place of learning. In history the development of literature and study there was right at the forefront within the world of the middle ages. Cordoba was one of the first mega cities of its time. Something of this is still in the city. The gifting is there and evident.

 

We had a very moving morning in the Cathedral – or in the Mosque? The Cathedral took over the Mosque, so it is known as the Mesquita-Catedral. Beautiful and truly awe-inspiring. What a place to unravel our string! (From Lugo where we began this journey, May 21, where we bought a roll of string saying that something was unravelling from Lugo to Gibraltar, and we have slowly unravelled it as we have prayed.) So in the Cathedral there had to be an unravelling and that is what we did.

The pivot point of the day though was in going to the battle field of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and the monument at La Carolina.

Navas de Tolosa

The scale of it and the symbolism really are an abomination. A bag of salt was deposited all around it and a strong renunciation. This distortion of the cross is what disempowers the cross. At the cross Jesus was stripped bare and made an open show of – the result Paul tells us was that the powers were exposed and stripped of their power! So offensive to have the cross at the centre as the weapon used against others.

The battle brought together four kings who despite their differences aligned, volunteers also from France, and three orders of religious knight orders, including the Knights Templars and the Order or Santiago (the ‘Moor killer’). It is probably no great surprise that we discovered when travelling to Toledo that the returning forces then turned on and massacred many Jews in the city.

When one talks about repentance over what has been done to Jews in the name of Jesus there is often a glad response – even from those who do not grasp ‘Identificational repentance’. Bringing up the issue of repentance to Muslims and touching on that history does not bring about the same glad response, in fact it is sadly often met with resistance. The privilege to stand in these places and feel something of the heart of God to embrace one and all is huge. It is then an offence when so much of what is on the land today betrays the God of heaven. For that repentance is both necessary and an easy step to make. It is not simply that Muslims have a long memory – the land does, and it needs healing so that another story can be written rather than one that changes characters but the script stays the same.

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La Alpujarra

After Mojacar (see the posts pre-Barcelona) we drove from east to west throughout this region. We covered more places here than I will post on, and one could spend days travelling from one place to another where there were atrocities – and atrocities on both sides. Take, for example, Cádiar where in 1568 Christian soldiers billeted there were killed while sleeping; or Laujar de Andarax where 3000 Muslims were killed, including 200 (some reports say 600) women and children who were blown up inside the Mosque.

There were a series of ‘rebellions’ in the decades that followed the surrender of Granada (1492). This was mainly throughout the mountainous regions south and east of Granada, and was provoked by the very harsh anti-Muslim policies of Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, who with the royal court moved to Granada in 1499. He ordered the burning of Arabic books and advocated a very hostile policy of forced conversions. His actions were in violation of the agreement that had been reached on the surrender of Granada.

We are noting a repeating pattern: take what is not yours, opens a door to betrayal, that then releases a spirit of destruction and murder.

Again in the midst of the overarching story there is a story of mercy. Cisneros became very ill and there were real concerns whether he would survive the illness. Finally a Muslim woman skilled in natural medicine treated him and he recovered. Sadly rather than this soften him it seems he was more resolved to counter the Muslim threat and was later able to apply the same policies beyond the borders of Spain. At the end of the rebellions the population of the kingdom of Granada had dropped from 150,000 to around half that figure. They were expelled from their land, again it is only appropriate to also give this the label of ‘civil’ war alongside any other labels attributed to those years of brutality.

Alpujarra

History is normally written by the victors and it was interesting to read in Órgiva town square about the rightful heirs being given the city. The rightful heirs were from Córdoba – some 3 hours drive away to the north. Apparently the rightful heirs were not those of the land.

There were so many places that we drove through and a number we stopped off at, either on the main road or small villages normally higher up the mountains. One place I will mention: Pitres. Driving there we came across two blights on the land. A well-established Buddhist retreat centre and all-but next door a town (Soportújar) with a public sign describing it as a ‘village of witchcraft’. Both we are sure sitting on the huge bloodshed across the valley. The valley is called the barranco de sangre (ravine of blood). Legend has it that it so flowed with blood that it never flowed with water again after that time. Blood on the land, particularly where it is tied to betrayal makes space for the demonic to sit there. All kinds of spirituality flourish in the Alpujarra(s).

alpujarra

The satellite map above will give some idea of the terrain. We came in from the East through Alhama de Almeria and out through Lanjaron – then up to Granada the following day.

It was a long day through the mountains, but it was also a long day spiritually. It is easy to be overcome by the immensity of what one encounters and we certainly do not have a perspective that somehow we have ‘done’ it. We though have, hopefully, made a contribution, and being convinced that God is not looking for the next ‘big thing’ but to presence himself in the midst of the multiplicity of small things we are content.

We are getting ready now for our next trip (which will take us into Portugal) and will begin by returning to the Alpujarras on Sunday, spending the Monday in there with a Spanish couple that we have yet to meet but are of the land. If we can strengthen them we will be content, helping those who love the land (rightful heirs) to create space for the Spirit of God.

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Mojacar

Leaving Cartagena behind we moved on to Mojacar on the south coast. We had visited Mojacar in 2010 so knew it a little. It was really intended as a sleeping point for us as we prepared for the major drive through the Alpujarras, but…

Mojacar

A quaint, beautiful place with narrow streets so well preserved:

Mojacar Streets

Before getting in to Mojácar and what we did there we look back on our first trip across the south of mainland Spain in 2010 with deep appreciation. We did this from Mallorca, renting a car and taking a tent, but now looking back it was so foundational to our understanding of Spain, and it was what eventually took us to Cádiz. It was at the end of our southern trip, we were in the city for just over an hour and then basically prayed for it for the next 2 years on an all-but daily basis. An accidental connection but a shift for us. Now living, more or less at the point of entry for that first trip, we reflect how what seems accidental can turn out to be so full of God.

Mojacar FountainSo off we went to Mojácar. Gayle says – so why are we here? To that point of time we had not read too much about how Mojácar fitted into the historic scene we were looking at. Not too much later we were reading one perspective that what took place in Mojácar was the root of what sparked the rebellions of the Alpujarras. We would not place such weight on it as that but the key event that we prayed into and were very moved by was the story surrounding the Muslim mayor (Al Avez) of Mojácar in 1488, in the immediate era when the Christian forces were closing in on Granada.

On June 10, 1488, the leaders of the region agreed to submit to the Christian forces, although Mojácar’s alcaide refused to attend, considering his town to be already Spanish. When his non-attendance was followed up he responded with (as on the plaque above the fountain):

Yo soy tan español como vos, cuando llevamos los de mi raza más de setecientos años de vivir en España nos decís que nos marchemos. Yo no hice nunca armas contra los cristianos, creo justo pues que se nos trate como hermanos, no como enemigos y se nos permita seguir labrando nuestra tierra, y añadió: Yo antes de entregarme como un cobarde, sabré morir como un español.

I am as Spanish as you, when we came (those of my race) more than seven hundred years to live in Spain, and now you are telling us to leave. I have never taken arms against Christians, I believe we should be treated like brothers, not like enemies and we should be allowed to continue to work our land, and I add: Before I surrender like a coward, I will die like a Spaniard.

This is the story line that we have found again and again. Different faith, but Spanish. They loved the land, this was their home. This follow up meeting resolved things… and then a second story line that comes up so often, within a few short years the Christians broke their treaty, moved all Muslims out of Mojacar (their town) and moved Christians in. The story lines repeat as is so often the case.

We have also noticed over years there is a pattern of betrayal leads to destruction / murder… and maybe some measure of crossing borders precedes betrayal. This is the same pattern as we first encountered in Mallorca: piracy to betrayal to murder.

We went back to the meeting place in Mojacar to the fountain where it took place. The place where regardless of faith everyone had shared together (and still do to this day) dependent on the same source.

To drink from the same fountain where speeches had been made, where people no different to us had drunk for centuries was an easy and necessary place to pray.

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Cartagena

Our first stop these past two weeks where we spent some hours to see, smell, taste and pray was in Cartagena. A port city and naval base in the Murcia region of southeast Spain. Founded by the Carthaginians around 228 BC, named after Carthage it was designed as the entry point for the conquest of Spain. The Romans captured it some years later and the city boomed during the Roman period. Among its many Roman ruins a theatre from 1st-century BC.

It was a prominent city during the Islamic period and was also one of the ports that Muslims were expelled through. In visiting these places, not as a tourist, but with a focus on prayer it is always surprising what kicks in. Slavery through the port was one aspect we prayed into, but the bigger situation was regarding the Pauline gospel. I do not believe Paul made it to Spain – of course there is no proof either way. Part of my convictions goes back to 2001 when in response to a question in Hanover about what wells to re-dig in Spain, I heard myself say that ‘You do not need wells of revival in Spain to re-dig. What other nation on the planet can we say with biblical authority that has unanswered first century apostolic prayer in the soil?’

Gayle believed very strongly that though Paul probably did not get there, she could ‘feel’ the weight of the presence of Gospel there from an associate of Paul. We called again for what had been released of that original message to permeate once more through the city, and for those who are believers there to again be confident in their proclamation.

Our focus on the expulsions was less strong here than we expected, but later in our journey we sense that we have picked up fresh understanding about the Pauline Gospel. As I indicated yesterday the impact personally when seeking to pray into historical issues is normally very deep.

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I have been silent but…

Gayle and I have been on the road for 2 weeks and in the next few posts I will try to pick up on the broad headlines of where we have been and what we have done. Some 2.5k kms (1.5k miles) later across the south of Spain and into the mountainous area just below the Sierra Nevadas called the Alpujarras (we were up as high as 4000ft / 1200mtrs). Mosquito bites, one night no where to park up other than a car park, a birthday while on the road (I have had a few before), but above all amazing to connect with history.

South of Spain

Our journey took us to Cartagena, through the mountainous area of Las Alpujarras (and windy roads), Granada, Las Navas de Tolosa, Cordoba and down to Tarifa and finally on to the amazing town of Frigiliana (nr. Malaga). Frigiliana has been voted Spain’s most beautiful village and it would be hard to argue with that. We have been motivated for this, and the previous trips this year, by the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain. Toward the end of last year the Lord put this on our hearts, not knowing too much about it, but are more convinced now than then that this has to be done.

Over the next few days I will try and blog about some of the key parts of these past two weeks and will put a few reflections in this post to set the scene. Over many years I have found that in prayer the bigger changes take place internally. It is probably impossible to get involved in repentant prayer for history without being changed oneself. In a recent trip a good Spanish person expressed that only in prayer had she realised that there was hatred in her ‘blood’ toward Muslims. We have no criticism of that. We all think we are OK until we confront the kenotic love of God who gives his life not for his friends but for his enemies.

Here are a few ways in which we are being deeply impacted:

  • It does matter whether one is a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew (the three religions that have impacted Spain, and I use the terms to apply whether the person is nominal or a ‘believer’) and the outworking is one of oppression over the other – they are all in opposition, to one level or another, to Jesus.
  • Our spiritual ancestors are those of the Jewish faith who were called to be priests for the nations. Like them we have failed, wanting to be as the others, determining who is in and who is out, rather than seeking to be servants for all.
  • Those called in that way when become guilty of oppressing others are extremely guilty because of using the name of Jesus, and they sow what is reaped elsewhere. Sharia law… seed is in the ‘Christian’ nation; Dayesh / Al Qaeda… look to the crusades, expulsions in Spain, Sykes-Picot agreement (French / British)… and ultimately to Christendom / Constantinianism. Sadly those elements are not part of history past but are often being beefed up among many charismatic movements today.
  • Those evicted were of the land. They were either converts who had been in the land for (all-but) forever, or were descendants of those who came some 700 years prior. The persecutions and war was civil war. Many were genuinely, as they understood it in their era, converts to Christianity, and as a result were kicked out only to be rejected and often killed when sent back to where their ancestors came from. (Imagine an immigration policy that evicted all those who had been in a land less than 700 years!!)
  • Never perfect, but there was a general ‘convivencia’ (living together) in the land for Jews, Christians and Muslims under Muslim rule. Part of Paul’s apostolic Gospel would be to restore that… without ever losing sight of the uniqueness of Jesus. Paul was clear on both. ‘We are all his offspring’. And he himself as a pious Jew needed Jesus otherwise he would remain as the ‘chief of sinners’. It seems we have strayed so far from the Pauline Gospel, so that election for Jews means there are two ways for justification, and we have the right to demonise all Muslims.

This journey is changing us. We sow our prayers for a change in the nation, Europe, and for a restoration of the Pauline gospel.

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What and where…

Arrived home last night which is always a ‘nice’ feeling. Home… though being on the road is just wonderful too. We have just been to Madrid, Toledo and Caravaca de la Cruz. A few more kilometres on the ‘furgo’: around 1.3k or 800 miles, so not huge distances. Madrid was our first destination and we met there with two generations of ‘Hawkes’ from north London (Adrian and Pauline, Gareth and Jo). They are such inspirations to us – maybe I should say provocations. Their passion for the Gospel and its outworking at a level of justice (is there another outworking that is at the centre of the Gospel?) is very striking. They have given themselves to everyone but with a focus on asylum seekers and refugees and the provision that they have believed God for, not once but on many occasions. There are those you can read about but it is always a deep privilege to be with the kind of people one can read about.

Over the past years we have met with a sightly wider group from http://phoenixcommunity.org and are glad that we seem to have some positive input to them. Their input to us is immense. We had a few days together and we stayed with them on an interesting street (more below on this!).

From Madrid we made the short drive to a city with major history, the city of Toledo. At one time it served as the capital. Our focus was very narrow – the city had been a centre for church councils, many Jewish massacres and also a centre for the Inquisition – but our focus has been on the Muslim / Christian / ReConquista aspect. In 1045 Alfonso VI of Castile captured Toledo, and although the city is a long way south the capture was viewed as one of the most significant captures in the ReConquista process. A truly magnificient city and one that understandably pulls in the tourists but it is hugely oppressive with clear evidence of the alliance of religion and military pride coming together. It would be a major challenge to live in the city as a believer as those spirits always come to suffocate real life.

Alfonso has a statue erected to him on one of the main ways in to the city. A sword raised to heaven!

Because our focus was on the Muslims we did not visit the Jewish quarter, though we have done that in the past and are deeply grateful for the focus Spanish believers have had on repentance into that history. On the edge of the old city by the Puerta del Sol (gate) there is one of the 10 original mosques that were in the city. It is pretty much intact and has been there since around 1000AD. It was a good place to pray, and as it was still during Ramadan it also carried some weight.

From the Mosque we went to the Cathedral, the Town Hall and the archbishop’s palace. All three together in the one square, and all three together in a spiritual history. How far have we shifted from the simplicity of following Christ, the simple and yet deeply profound message of the cross that made an open show of what is at the heart of controlling power? It is very difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion when walking the streets of a city like Toledo that ultimately there is no difference between the controlling Judaism that colluded with Imperial power, the Islamic faith that proclaims a predestinating God, and a christianity that transforms the cross into a sword. They are of one spirit, and certainly not of the Spirit of Jesus… though wonderfully he can be found hidden in there. Days of walking, praying are very provocative, they seem to bring sight in new ways.

Cathedral and a military / Knights T / St George images:

From Toledo we went to Caravaca de la Cruz, a town not too far from Murcia in the south. It of course has Moorish history but our focus here was simply to complete going to the three places in Spain that are legitimated by the Vatican to offer ‘perpetual indulgences’. (Inside Spain there are three, outside two – Jerusalem and Rome.) I am sure there are those who find Jesus, and even find forgiveness in the midst of the paraphernalia, but oh for some of the simple ways of Jesus to become available! This place draws so many pilgrims but here the religious spirit was not so heavy as in Toledo…

Here is view of the city from the pilgrimage sanctuary:

So a little journey and back home. The next days we will try to shape the next parts.

And the street name? Just before we left Noé (from Calpe) had talked to us about what is considered the major battle that is the turning point in the ReConquista: the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212). So we have been reading on this and know that (probably) in July we will travel there. There is much to write about on the history, but of interest in terms of where we have been, the ‘Christian’ forces came from Toledo to the battle. They included the most unlikely of allies, and also drew in the Knights Templars and the Order of Santiago. Later in the same year of the battle there was a major slaughter of Jews in Toledo. Those kind of connections are not uncommon.

And the street in Madrid? Here is the corner of the street:

Nice pointer on the journey – who needs GPS with signs like that!!

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La Muela

La muela – the molar. The name given to high cliff top area to the West of Valencia, la muela de Cortes de Pallás. Our last 30 kms to get right in to the village took us over an hour, beautiful but inaccessible. It was here that some 3000 moriscos (and of course that term suggests that they were muslims but in reality they were a mix of muslims and christians) had gathered. They retreated to this area as they did not want to be evicted from their land.

Having travelled in the north with Noë, Loli and Sam, they left for Calpe and France respectively and Gayle and I drove to La Muela. It is in the middle of a huge mountain range:

They took to the cliff top above the town for their protection. A major force came against them, initially offering for them to surrender, but the ‘Christian’ troops did not want to lose their plunder so took things into their own hands, to rape and plunder. It was brutal, and there are records of women with their children jumping from the cliffs to their death in order to avoid the brutality. The attack was under the governor of Xativa (I commented on Xativa in yesterday’s post).

Eventually the so-called ‘last king of Morisco Spain’, Turixí, was captured a few months later and taken to Valencia where he was drawn and quartered.

A bloody history and one that took place centuries ago (1609) – for the Western mind-set it has nothing to do with us today. For other cultures? And for the land that holds the corporate memory, it is alive until there can be a Jubilee, a re-set. This reset is what is motivating Gayle and me. The cross is an event in time to re-set all things.

The pursuit of the moriscos from the area of La Muela continued and in 1611 a reward was given for every morisco brought in ‘dead or alive’. ‘Christian’ bounty hunters descended on the region in great numbers as a result. In the midst of this a Simon Zapata took on himself to coax Moriscos down without violence. He spent months roaming the mountains and led them personally to the coast. He even sent his brother on a ship with them to guarantee their safety on arrival in Algiers. We bless and are blessed by his memory. The land too remembers this.

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Santiago via a field

Having discovered the story surrounding Priscillian we planned to travel to Santiago de Compostela via a field (as one would). The reason being that Priscillian engaged with people where they were and was willing to oversee the eucharist outside. So before getting to Santiago we pulled off the road and with bread and wine prayed, unravelling some of the string.

As we began to pray we had a number of swifts turn up, flying all around – this we have found not to be uncommon, and even back in the day we had one fly in and out of our apartment in Cádiz. There is so much more resonance between creation and heaven than we often realise.

On to Santiago… without doubt many people meet God on the camino with time to reflect and re-centre. As well there are many diverse ways in which people connect. I would benefit from the camino I am sure, but this kind of focus is not something that would come easy to me. Maybe when I eventually grow up and enter the second half of life I might be able to connect more with this kind of spirituality!? The history though of the camino is a covering over of the Prisicillian history with the myth of St. James – whose body is supposedly in the cathedral having been taken across the Mediterranean, avoiding pirates en route and in a stone boat!! (Remind me when I make up a story to stay a little closer to something a little more believable!) For all those who have found God on the camino nothing I write here is to take anything away from that. Even if it is a myth and a covering over of something deeper, and in that sense a deliberate deception, as I believe, it highlights that God is to be found in all kinds of places. That God is found does not say too much about the place where he is found – it simply says a lot about God’s mercy.

Inside the cathedral we did not find great darkness. Of course there are religious aspects that do not seem too healthy but God is to be found. The statue (actually 2 statues) of St. James is present and we took our turn to walk past, not to pay homage, but to indicate that something was passing!

Glad we made the journey there. It is Gayle and my second time there in the city. So we bless all pilgrims who truly connect with God through whatever spirituality works for them. For us… the field, the open space will continue to draw… and the city!

Outside the cathedral there was a sign regarding work being done on the cathedral, and saying that this was a new time for the cathedral.

 

Below is the map of our journey:

1 Oliva
2 Madrid: picked up Sam at the airport / connected with Noë and Loli in El Espinar
3 Lugo: string, Marcos Zapata, hospitality
4 Santiago
5 Santo Toribio de Liebana
6 Santander: John Mark and Marcela and hospitality
7 Madrid: a day in the city
8 La Muela de Cortes de Pallas: the last king of the Moriscos

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Lugo: 11 hours away

For those who follow this blog you will know that we are focused for this year on how we can contribute to the undoing of the negative aspects of the ReConquista: the taking back of the Iberian peninsula for the ‘Christian’ faith and the ending of almost 800 years of Muslim rule. We neither come at this believing that we would not have done what our ‘Christian’ foreparents did had we been alive then, nor that all the fault lies on one side. We do approach it from today, carrying the perspectives of today, so hold that what was done in the name of Christ was not reflective of the Gospel he left for us to proclaim. We approach it as followers of Christ hence believe we carry a responsibility to stand in the gap with repentance for what has gone on before. There are many prayers and exhortations in Scripture concerning the confession of one’s sins and the sins of those who have gone before. There is no suggestion that the NT overturns this and the strongest NT example is the baptism of Jesus, a baptism for the forgiveness of sins which he underwent. Only when it was clear that Jesus was being baptised representatively to fulfil all righteousness did John agree to baptise him. Anyway – our convictions, and what motivates us for the year. There is no need to convince others! I (sadly) came to realise some years back that the Lord does not focus on convincing others that what I believe is correct and I also discovered that he seems more interested in how I live according to my convictions than how clever I am!

We have always been amazed that information surfaces when one needs it. God is not the purveyor of information as and when we want it. I consider this is the case as any real information has to be responded to. We become accountable for what we know. The Pharisees understood that Jesus was clearly of the opinion they were blind (Jn. 9) and were a tad upset about this. His reply to them was that for their sake they would be better off just accepting they were blind, for if they had sight their guilt (responsibility) would remain. Hence I always consider that information follows revelation and is an indicator of a time-line. God gives information when the body of Christ can respond and see a shift as they partner with heaven.

Last year we began to call for anything deep in the land (in the north) that was related to a Celtic understanding of the Gospel, then began to be convinced that 2017 was the year to journey and pray into the undoing of the negative effects of the Christian / Muslim conflict over the land. In the wider picture we would see that this still gives Islam a foothold on the land spiritually and that such non-cruciform response to Islam is what gives it strength… in other words that Christendom (church state alliance, ‘Christian nation’ theology etc.) is what feeds Islam today. In that sense Islam, with its space for Jesus even in the Quran, could even be seen as a cult as much as another religion. Oops, I just saw a can of worms there, so moving on quickly.

Information comes forth

Into that mix our connections turned up with a gentleman called Priscillian, a Celt who became bishop of Avila, but who operated also in the open fields with the eucharist and held to the equality of women and men. He did not seem to have a direct connection to the British Celtic church, but there is some link to Martin of Tours (though I consider him really Martin of Poitiers) who had a link to Patrick, of Irish fame. And then the big one… it seems the whole camino de Santiago was created to squash the Priscillian history, and that someone as academic as Henry Chadwick held to the belief that far from James being the body in Santiago it was actually Priscillian!! The Celtic in the land being suppressed by an overlay of church and Empire (the two that came together to have Priscillian killed).

So for us there was an added element that came in. Not only the ReConquista but the calling forth the Celtic Christian roots and also seeking to stand in the gap for what we understand to be the first Christian to be killed by the initiative of other believers who pulled on Imperial power to have it effected. This of course being in parallel to the crucifixion of Jesus, pursued by fellow Jews who pulled gladly on Imperial power to see him killed.

So off we went just over a week ago. All across Spain to the north west, initially an 11 hour drive. We went with Samuel Rhein (France) and Noe and Loli from nearby Calpe. Amazing travelling companions and we were highly privileged to be with them. Our first day was in Lugo. We were hosted there by Marcos whose church and work is doing an amazing work in that city and across the Galicia comunidad. Some weeks back Gayle had said to me that we have to start in Lugo as that was where the end of a ball of string was and we needed to begin to unravel things from there. Amazingly when we entered the old city through a gate in the intact Roman wall the first shop in front was a string shop with all kinds of string, sizes and shapes! We bought a ball of 7 metres of string that will come with us and we will unravel this piece by piece until we get to Gibraltar (September).

Here are:

The happy travellers:

The happy string shop (outside):

and also happy inside:

The happy ball (about to be unravelled) that will accompany us:

A lot of happiness… and getting on the road, a feeling of what one was born for, or rather what two were born for, does help and pump the happiness gauge up a bit!!

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Our few kilometres

Always good to come home. I have been away for some 10 days, with one night at home in the midst. As soon as I arrived home Gayle and I took a friend back to Alicante Airport and then covered some 2000 kilometres to Madrid then Cádiz. If ever you are taken with the thought of driving in a country just to see it we would recommend Spain every time. A beautiful and very diverse land. From the coast to the plateau that Madrid sits on at 2100 feet (Europe’s highest capital city), to the ancient city of Cádiz to the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. That was our journey.

 

spain-trip-0515

 

Last November while in the liminal space of the West of Ireland something happened to us, and maybe particularly to Gayle, with the awareness of the need to protect political space becoming something we have increasingly felt responsible for. So it was great to make our way to Madrid to meet with a UK journalist (and friend) Julie Tomlin who was there to explore how to listen to the voices at grass roots level. We were also able to stay in the apartment of our ex-landlady, Ana, who hosted us. She too has a (family) background in the political scene of Spain.

Sunset in Madrid
Sunset in Madrid

We had three incredible days there with connections, and walking the streets of this capital city. People and places have to connect and we feel such a connection to this city. And with the situation in Spain as full of potential as it is at this time we simply loved every minute there. (Dream-wise) we are aware that the level of changes needed will not take place this year (2015) but the level of shift and challenge to the status quo is at an unparalleled level. The reactions too are simply incredible! We are sure that the timing of prayer at Franco’s tomb in March, and that it is 40 years since his death, have contributed enormously to the current shifts. We are certainly glad to have prayed there, having called for an earthquake as a sign, and then to read the language in the press with virtually the total results of the elections causing an earthquake in the land.

Of course no political party is the ‘saviour’ for a situation, and we will not sell our soul in such a way, but the whole land is reeling. People we have talked to use words ‘dangerous times’, ‘end of an era’, ‘hope’ through to many more negative terms. We would aspire to being able to spend the major part of November in Madrid as the general elections will take place at that time.

Mentidero Cadiz
Mentidero Sq Cadiz

From Madrid we spent a couple of days in Cádiz. Amazing to come back to the city not as people living there but as ‘semi-visitors’. Something has shifted but the city is still at a huge balancing point. It was great to spend some time with Simon and Amy but also to meet up with some friends from before. We did have two fairly disturbed nights there which is always a sign of spiritual disturbance, so there still needs to be a big push in that city. There are undoubtedly keys there for the nation. In the previous post I covered some of the perspective of the young / old woman of the city, and this is clearly still contested ground both in the city and the nation.

In my next post I will go back to the travels before our drive in Spain as I was in Plymouth for a few of days.

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Romania… this time of year

Gayle and I have just returned from Romania to work with Networks. I hope we bring something to them – I certainly know we are always the richer for being there. No ‘work’ is perfect but the commitment of the team, the flow of short-term people through (500+ per annum), the engagement and empowerment of the local people, and…

The team leader and founder of the work now has his own bedroom! The level of commitment to live at a basic level with no poverty mentality is a challenge. So often we can justify a level of living, or conversely live with little and a poverty mentality. I have been pursuing the concept of the ‘money bag’ for the kingdom being ‘contentment’ so again this was a lesson to me.

Arguably Europe is statistically the ‘darkest’ continent for the Gospel, and the Balkans the darkest area within Europe. If there can be a way of not looking for models elsewhere this whole area can be a place where new models rise up that reflect the bigness of the kingdom. It is for these reasons that G & I will see how we can now invest more in to this area beyond the once a year that we have done.

I have written in the past of the investment into the team being as much from those who do not openly share an evangelical faith, such is the fruit of the work there. While there this time there was a team from a school in Sweden, some believers, some not. The students work for the final years in the school with the hope that they will be able to travel to Romania. They are touched in amazing ways. We asked a Swede what it was that makes the difference. He replied that they have seen situations of significant poverty before but in touching this team they experience a ‘love for the poor’ that is tangible.

Lee also told us about a lady who was visiting from Sweden, and while driving in the car, the presence of God filled the car ‘from nowhere’. With no background in that sort of experience and without any prayer this woman was deeply impacted in the silence. The connection between the supernatural manifestations of God and the context of the poverty are absolutely remarkable.

I could go on… check out the web site and if you have any sense of making a contribution I could not suggest strongly enough that all investments in this work are investments into the work of the kingdom.

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