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Adventures with God in Spain 

4th July 2021
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conference we arranged in Madrid with guest speakers from Ichthus , London. credit: Dorothy Marsh
 



“You never know what tomorrow holds” and “We don’t know what’s round the corner” are two sayings many of us have used over the last year. At the beginning of 2020 none of us would have guessed that a pandemic would cause disruption, fear and heartache in the lives of so many
 
 January 1987 was a year that I look back on and when I never would have dreamed of what was round the corner. I’m not comparing it to the pandemic but it was life-changing for my husband and me. At that time we both had successful careers – my husband, Jack, was Headmaster of a comprehensive school in London and I was Head of the Pre-school Support Service in Northamptonshire. I loved my job leading 2 multi-disciplinary teams as we worked with children aged 0-5 who had any form of disability, alongside their parents. It was challenging but so rewarding as parents were given hope that someone was alongside them caring and teaching. At the same time we were very involved in our local church. Jack was in the leadership team; we led a house group and ran two youth clubs as well as having two lovely daughters to spend time with. So life was busy but fulfilling
 
Then we both felt a gradual stirring in our spirits as if God was saying prepare for something new. This came as a surprise as change wasn’t in our thoughts or plans. So God needed to speak to us in a louder voice and we sensed He was saying we were to give up our secular work and be more involved in His work. As time went on, moving to Spain appeared to be where God was leading us. Now I have to be perfectly honest here and tell you that I had never been to Spain, never wanted to go to Spain and Spain did not figure in my future. The media had well and truly sold me that lie that Spain was discos, lager louts, and drugs. I have since then had to repent of these negative thoughts about a beautiful country with beautiful people. So during the first six months of 1987 as we prayed through what we felt God was revealing to us we kept getting prophetic words from the most unlikely sources which confirmed that we should plan to move to Spain

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left: Jack's sketch of mountain; and right: the mountain Jack sketched before we saw it.  credit: Dorothy Marsh
 



Well, in October that year we found ourselves looking for a home in Spain. As we prayed in our hotel room Jack drew a picture (he is an artist) of a strange looking mountain and I had one word, literally, “Refuge”. The next day we were being taken to look at some houses and found ourselves in a valley and guess what, there was the mountain Jack drew. Remember we had never been to Spain before. God was leading us step by step. Amazingly (or miraculously) we were being shown a plot of land opposite the mountain Jack had drawn. But I wasn’t fond of the houses. So our guide took us to see other houses in a different location and I loved one of the designs. When I turned over to see the floor plan of this house there was the name of the design “El Refugio” the Refuge in English. My spirit stirred as we asked the agent if we could have the Refuge on the plot opposite the mountain. Of course we could because that was God’s plan for us. Incidentally we still have Jack‘s drawing as a reminder of the start of this adventure with God. So put a deposit on the plot and planned to have the house completed in October 1988 when both our girls would be settled in university
 
We boarded our plane to return home, looked at each other and said “what have we done?” For a moment we began to doubt that we had heard God correctly and had to dig deep into His promises. We were still working and didn’t see how we could leave our jobs and support ourselves in this new life. We were not in the EU then so healthcare was private and there were other financial implications. But a series of miraculous events enabled us to leave our jobs by July 1988. I was 45 then and Jack 53 but God promised to take care of us in every way even financially. And He kept His promises as He always does
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October 1988 found us in a rented house awaiting completion of our new home. We knew no one and wanted to find a church as quickly as possible. We had no preconceived ideas of what we would be doing in Spain but felt we could be available to serve in a local church. How naïve this was. There was a small church in a home quite nearby but after two visits knew this was not the place for us. So, having seen an ad in a local paper we headed off to Benidorm which was an hour away to attend a midweek meeting. It was led by a Swedish pastor who made us feel very welcome and invited us to return for the Sunday service. There was to be a visiting speaker from the UK. Unbeknown to us they were looking for someone to lead the English speaking church to free up the Swedish pastor to work more with the Scandinavian congregation. What a Sunday that turned out to be. The speaker reported back to the church how they had searched for someone to lead the work but no one suitable had been found. My spirit jumped and I turned to Jack and said “He’s going to ask us” Jack looked at me as if to say “What does she mean? We are just visiting”.  Immediately after he preached the man came straight to us and asked who we were. We arranged to meet up, preach in a church in the UK and to cut a long story short we were appointed as the Pastor Couple in the church. Our Spanish adventure with God had begun

picture shows Dorothy making paella for church lunch. credit Dorothy Marsh
 


 
It was an interesting work and we had to be very flexible. I think our secular jobs had equipped us for that. There was a mixed congregation of full-time ex-pats, snowbirds (those who stayed for the winter months), and holiday makers and we met many wonderful Christians from all denominations who shared their lives and testimonies with us. It was always fresh and exciting along with the challenge of spiritually feeding and pastoring the folks who were permanent church members while catering for those who were less regular. God was faithful and we saw growth spiritually and numerically along with some miraculous healings

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up the hill with the gypsy church. credit: Dorothy Marsh
 


 
During the following year as we moved about in our own community we started to meet Christians locally who had no church to fellowship with. God once more began to stir our spirits and we sensed Him telling us to plant a church in our home. We had a huge downstairs area which would seat at least 40 people. (When the house was being planned we had never thought this room could be used as a church! It was a study/studio/spare space for extra visitors but God had seen into the future and provided ahead of time) So we invited a handful of the believers we had met to join us in this new church. We continued to meet in Benidorm in the mornings and in our home in the afternoons but knew that in time we needed to concentrate on our home church and gave notice to the Benidorm oversight group that we would continue in our roles until they could find a new Pastor Couple. This happened within a couple of months and we could focus on our home church. This grew and we saw a few folks come to faith and be baptised in our pool. We also encouraged local groups to get together once a month to worship. And we were blessed to have many visiting speakers through our contacts in the UK. Including Terry Virgo, Brian Mills who taught about prayer, and our dear friend Ken McGreavy from Ichthus, who is now with the Lord, teaching about the prophetic. How blessed we were. Just a small group of folks who love Jesus being encouraged by these lovely men of God and their wives

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midweek church group.  credit: Dorothy Marsh
 


 
As the church settled and grew (never more than 45) we felt the Lord prompting us to forge links with Spanish believers. So to facilitate this we began a prayer chain throughout Spain. We wrote to all the contacts we had as well as missionary societies asking them to send their prayer requests to us which we then collated and sent round to the prayer warriors we were in touch with. This led to more adventures with God as we travelled to different parts of Spain and were given the opportunity to visit and preach in several Spanish Evangelical churches. At that time the evangelical church did not have an easy time as the dominant Catholic church very much led community activities and it was hard for Christians to be outsiders in a land where community and family are highly prized. The prayer chain thrived and we were able to hand it over to Spaniards to grow it more within their own nation. Intercessors for Spain continues to thrive

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Pedro and family, credit Dorothy Marsh
 


 
Meeting such wonderful Spanish believers led to even more adventures –too many to write about today- so I will give you a couple of examples where I was challenged to come out of my comfort zone. We have a dear friend Pedro who works with the marginalised – gypsies, who are very despised in Spain, and the immigrants who fetch up on the shores of Almeria. When we first spent time with Pedro he was living in the Pyrenees and pastored a group of gypsies. The church met every evening and half an hour before one of the meetings Pedro asked me to preach. I had nothing prepared as I never thought a woman would preach in a church where men sat on one side and women on the other. So I hastily went to the bedroom where we were staying and prayed one of those “help” prayers. God graciously heard my prayer and I did preach. Later I was told that I was the first woman to preach in not just that church but that denomination! I’m glad they didn’t tell me before as the weight of that responsibility would have given me more trepidation. The next day Pedro was taking us to a Christian TV station near Barcelona where we prayed with the lovely staff who worked there then we moved on to a radio station and we expected to pray again with the folks there. But no, Pedro turned to us and said “you are on in 5 minutes” getting over our surprise we said “For how long?” and at that point surprise turned to shock when he told us it was for an hour! Again our “help Lord” prayer was answered and we had the privilege of speaking with Pedro as our translator
 
A few years after this our friend moved to Southern Spain and we were caught up in more adventures with him. Again he was spending time in the gypsy community. We had brought a small team over from the UK to experience mission and get a taste for the needs of the church in Spain. One early evening Pedro took us to a remote area with a desert-like landscape. As we drove higher up winding roads we could glimpse people hanging over a wall waving to us. This lovely group of believers were waiting for us and I hoped we wouldn’t disappoint them not knowing what they were expecting. As is the norm with the gypsy community they are relegated to areas outside the village and looked upon with mistrust in the very least. This group were materially poor but rich in faith yet in their poverty they offered us food and water. We sang together or they sang and we sort of hummed along not knowing the words. Then we began to pray for them with the men in one room and us ladies outside in the gentle heat of a Spanish June evening. Two ladies were prayed for and the lumps they had found in their breasts wonderfully disappeared totally. We rejoiced with them. Meanwhile indoors was a man whose hand had been damaged when working on a farm. It was closed up and claw-like. Jack and some of the men laid hands on the man, prayed and watched as the hand unfolded and returned to normal. God is amazing. I remember these beautiful outcasts from society with love
 
DOROTHY MARSH 6 07-2021Meanwhile as our church continued to know the blessing of God another friend X (I will not use his name to protect him as he is involved in work in Columbia) (see photo left) contacted us asking? ”Will you come to Morocco with me next week? I am going there to pray”  A quick prayer and our answer was “Yes” X is an absolute prayer warrior. His life is prayer and I can learn so much from him. A week later after having been given some ”dos and don’ts when in Morocco” tips from experts we  took the boat to Ceuta, a Spanish territory alongside  Morocco. X knew people wherever we went so we were constantly meeting these often undercover missionaries. There were of course many adventures but one stands out. As I said X is a prayer warrior. It’s the breath he breathes. And on one occasion as we were travelling down this empty road with camels and children carrying water as our only company X began to pray for the people we were going to visit. I was horrified when he prayed that these folks would be willing to die for the nation of Morocco where they were undercover missionaries who had a small electronics business there. I was driving and I think I almost went off the road but said nothing. The family- a man, his wife and two daughters- we met were from South America but felt called to serve God in Morocco and had led several Muslims to the Lord and also had given them employment. We chatted and prayed and all was going well, I decided, until X began to tell them about his prayer. Oh no I thought but I need not have worried as God had gone before us. The father told us that before they moved to Morocco the family had sat down together, prayed and committed themselves to Morocco even if it meant persecution or even martyrdom. I was totally humbled and knew I had much to learn about following Jesus. An adventure with God that will stay with me forever
 
Our next challenge came when a local church leader asked us to take over leading his church. We prayed and came up with what we believed God was saying which was to join our two congregations together so that we could support him yet at the same time build something new. So we joined together and moved into a new building and the church began to grow. Of course it had its ups and downs, what church doesn’t, but our adventures continued up until the time when we heard God saying it’s time to hand this to younger leaders. So we prepared to leave Spain and return to the UK. It was hard in so many ways especially leaving our daughter, her partner and our two beautiful granddaughters there but we felt it was the right decision and we moved to Scotland to retire, whatever that is. God still had plenty to teach us and we were soon involved in a prophetic ministry there and learned so much
 
So why Norfolk now you might be asking. Well the honest answer is I’m not really sure. But here we are and open to what God wants from us.  The adventures in Spain may have ended but I pray God has more adventures for us. Bless you all for reading this and sharing with me my special memories
Rev Dorothy Marsh
 

Feedback:
maryejives@gmail.com (Guest) 06/07/2021 09:51
Thank you so much for this. My husband and I visited Costa del Sol 5 years ago and we were led to attend an evangelical church there. It was an amzing experience and will long stay with me. I have often wondered about Christian networks in Spain and somehow reading your article this has reawoken bells for me. Not sure why, but no doubt God will make that clear.