David Pugh, Support Letter – Part One
Thank you so much for all of your love, support and prayer while I was in Spain and during the months leading up to my trip. It was a wonderful experience, and you have all participated, in some part, in getting me there. Money was a huge blessing, but so was your enthusiasm and curiosity because, honestly, there were many moments when I wasn’t sure why I was even going.
This came largely from my confusion about what I was getting myself into. I signed up through my school, APU, to go on a mission trip to Spain. I knew that our trip was organized by and in partnership with a nonprofit called Edge Project, and that it was a relational ministry through art. And I could point to Altea on a map. Beyond that, however, I was clueless.
I am pleased to say that now, after a month “on the Edge,” I can tell you more. First of all, what is Edge Project? Edge began when Arianna and her family followed God’s calling to leave their successful church plant in Germany to be led to Spain and settle down in the town of Altea.
At first it was just their family of 6 living among the Spanish people. They got to know the different areas, and they learned about the passion for art within the city. Next, they invited art students from America to come build relationships with the artists studying at the art institute in Altea, which took place during the winter and spring. It then shifted to a summer mission, which is what it currently is. The work of Edge has been a gradual process led by God, and is now on its tenth year.
It does sound slow and unproductive, but believe me, after being in Spain, I see Edge’s strategy as both brilliant and necessary. Spain is a very spiritually dead country. The Catholic churches are more than half empty during mass, and those attending are in their twilight. The protestant congregations are also small and nearly an invisible presence. I met other missions-minded people in Spain—some from Germany, some from Columbia—and they all said the same thing, that Spain is an almost impossible mission field.
I could see the truth of that even in my month there. Conversations about God in general prompted either quick defenses or quick diversion of topic. There is a general appearance of religious apathy. But, from a few conversations that I had, and the research I’ve done, I think I have a clue as to the underlying resistance. The Catholic church, which has been the prominent Christian force in the country for centuries, has also been a key political and economic player in the country’s affairs. The most recent and painful example of this was the part it took in enforcing the reign of the dictator Francisco Franco, which ended in 1975. The wounds from that time are still visible.
To protect themselves from such betrayal again, the youth of Spain have become remarkably secular, wanting very little to do with spirituality in general, and Christianity in particular. But I, and Arianna and the people of Edge project, do believe that Christ brings life and healing, and that a true relationship with him, and not formal religion, can be a blessing and a gift. So, what seems like a slow and unambitious approach with Edge Project is actually more like the gradation of a spear-head, which can pierce thick hides and armor. Because it is slow, non-forceful and focused on relationships, culture, and the interests of the people, Christ can be represented more as he actually was: as a man who lived among us.