English Crosses Culture, Unites Christians in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain -- Spreading Christianity in Europe can be tough since many people there have a very negative view of the church.

But in Barcelona, Spain, missionaries are using the English language and new outreach to reach residents.

Spain's second-largest city is a cultural mecca, drawing students and visitors from all over the world. And what many of them have in common is the English language.

This is what brings Christians from various nations together at the International Church of Barcelona.

Americans Brian and Ruthie Gomez are assistant pastors at the church. Congregants have described the atmosphere as a "taste of heaven."

"I feel that way, too. You're sitting next to someone from Nigeria and on the other side you have someone from New Zealand, or Nepal, or Singapore," Gomez said.

Church members from different nations all described the same experience, that they felt at home as soon as they walked in.

"I think one of the strengths of our church is we provide a community in Barcelona," Gomez added.

During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, Barcelona was a center for anarchists and communists.

The Roman Catholic Church was viewed by the left as a tool of oppression. Clergy were killed and churches destroyed.

Some say there is still a spirit of rebellion against Christianity in Barcelona, and there is certainly a mistrust of the church.

That means the gospel must be shared in new ways.

"Because they believe the church is equated with money and power," Gomez explained. "So yeah, there is a rebellion, there is a mistrust of the spiritual authority here."

Barcelona missionaries John and Brandi Carrano talked to CBN News about their best strategies.

"Very quickly we learned that we don't talk about 'church,' period," Brandi said. "We talk about personal and spiritual development. We don't hide the fact that we're church-related, but we don't start off with that."

Many residents think of the church as outdated and ineffective, and personal evangelism has to address those concerns.

"I had a conversation with a young Catalan couple a few weeks ago, probably in their early twenties. And they said, 'Our parents have gone to church their whole lives, they go every week, but they come home and nothing changes,'" John recalled.

"So for them, they say, 'Why would I waste my time in something that makes no difference,'" he continued. "So for us, one of the main things is we are trying to build a community of faith that actually lives out the way of Jesus."

And the outreach is working. English is bringing Christians from many cultures together in Barcelona.

"You really do feel like you're worshipping in Heaven," Gomez said. "Because the Bible says there will be believers from all around the world worshipping God."

Ministries like these are working together to bring Barcelona from its history of rebellion against God, into a new relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Dale Hurd

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A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.