Following the Lord's Call
He was born and raised in the Canary Islands and first heard of our seminary through our ministry in the Canaries back in 1998. Bruno and Lydia, newlyweds, began attending our extension in Grand Canary. When Bruno saw how we reached out to all eight of the islands in 2001, he liked what he saw! On fire for Jesus, Bruno and Lydia decided to follow us back to Madrid and enroll in our four-year program. One of our requirements is that students must do (not just study) evangelism and church-planting. But Bruno and Lydia were too passionate about the work of God to plant only one church—they planted two! Bruno’s heart beats for Christ’s Great Commission! Soon after their graduation, Bruno and Lydia joined Evangelism in Action, a Spanish organization committed to evangelism and church-planting. In Malaga, close to the rock of Gibraltar, Bruno and Lydia planted a third church! But by age 33 Bruno was hungry for more. Where was God’s cloud moving? Bruno looked at the world and saw GIGANTIC need EVERYWHERE! When the couple was invited to British Columbia to learn English through a oneyear program, Bruno spent the whole year fidgeting. He didn’t like being “out of the ministry”—even though it was just one year of study! The Lord, however, had moved the cloud strategically. There in Canada, Bruno was approached by a Japanese family from Peru— asking them to plant a church among Salvadorans and other Latin Americans in British Columbia. God’s tapestry is global! This seemingly crazy connection of ethnicities is only a surprise to us because we don’t have the “big picture” that God has. As a matter of fact, throughout the 1990s, the president of Peru was a Japanese leader named Alberto Fujimori. Peru is home to more than 100,000 Nikkei Japanese (Japanese emigrants and their offspring). Bruno realized that God’s cloud had led him and Lydia to Canada not only to learn English, but for a much greater purpose. There were Latin Americans everywhere! Bruno was thrilled with this new mission field—except for the weather; he felt like the stereotypical suffering missionary coming from the land of endless sunshine to a land of long winters! The Son was shining in their hearts, however. It was clear that this wasn’t just a one-church opportunity. Bruno remembered how we had reached out to eight Canary Islands simultaneously in a single month—a single campaign reaching three million people with the Gospel! So Bruno sent an SOS by email: “The harvest is great, the workers are few!” His description was exciting—he could start multiple churches, if he only had help. It was a predicament of great opportunity but limited capacity: low human resources and few financial resources. Would we help—even though Canada was far from Spain? Our answer was Yes! (It was especially easy to say Yes because Bruno and Lydia were laboring barely 100 miles from Alderwood Community Church, one of our most faithful partners over the past three decades, in Lynnwood, Washington.) Bruno wanted the whole program! He wanted to establish a “train and deploy” extension with the same curriculum and the same requirements as our work in Spain. Soon we had launched 14 churches in Western Canada with Bruno and Lydia serving as our ambassadors . . . your ambassadors! As a special gift from the Lord, their beautiful daughter Hannah was born there. (Her beautiful golden hair reminded them of their far-off, sun-drenched homeland!) In 2008, the economic crisis hit Canada hard. To help provide work for Canadian citizens, the government revoked foreign workers’ visas. Bruno and Lydia weren’t distressed. The cloud was moving again—so it was time to move on! Back in Spain, seven churches invited them to come serve as their pastors. After much prayer and consultation, Bruno and Lydia headed for the neediest place: Benidorm, on the Mediterranean coast. The city’s largest religious compound: Jehovah’s Witnesses! Again Bruno called us to ask for help. “The harvest is VERY great,” he reported, “the laborers are VERY few!” They wanted to open an extension in Benidorm and do multiple church plants. “I knew Manny never says no to evangelism and church-planting,” Bruno recalls. But I’d put it differently: God never says no to evangelism and church planting! He said “Go into all the world” and “Behold, I am with you always”—so we go, and He is with those who go! With Bruno and Lydia, we had the joy of launching another 15 churches, and we’ve graduated nearly 50.