Here’s a glimpse of Relational Mission in action: a report written by Karen Opitz, a South African lady who is part of our Frankfurt church plant who travelled to Spain to support our Malaga church plant!
My thought as I boarded the airplane back to Frankfurt after the Malaga prayer weekend was “I should do this more often“! Not only because sunny Spain easily seems a good idea, but because considering the holy objective, a Friday evening flight, two nights at the lovely Hotel Elcano with the team and a weekend aside from the weekly routine seems so worth it and a relatively easy way to get to support this church plant in amongst normal life.
I had been to Malaga before, almost exactly one year previously for the church planter’s course held there. A rather cunning strategy of arranging a prayer walk on one of the afternoons meant the city somehow was already caught in my heart and I was eager to see any changes since then. Around 20 of us came together in Malaga from three or four churches around the UK and myself from Frankfurt in Germany. We in the Frankfurt church plant have experienced such love and support in the last three years, and what a wonderful thing it is to be part of a larger supportive family, so decided I wanted to join at least one expression of this to another church plant in parallel during the year. An easy “yes“ therefore to come along again and pray along for and with the adventurous team in Malaga.
Martin Lazenby who leads the church plant and his wife Sarah feel called to focus on the suburb of El Palo just east of the city centre. Malcolm and Karen Reay have recently joined and they all live in this bright, pretty neighbourhood. The area feels quite far from touristy southern Spain, and rather where real “Malaguenos“ live and is full of restaurants, coffee shops and families.
We gathered on the Friday evening for dinner in El Palo to meet one another and kick off the weekend programme of praying together, eating together, walking, meeting the team’s friends and connections, and hearing something of the challenges and excitements of the church plant. Saturday and Sunday were structured into bite-size praying times around topics, areas and relationships, both morning starting with an early walk along the promenade praying for the city. On Saturday we spent time praying for migrants arriving in the area, walking and praying various routes of the team‘s every day, including homes, government buildings, sports clubs, markets, other churches, representing areas of favour and growth or aspects where we asked God to particularly break in. I loved hearing the team speaking about their new city, as they showed us around, explaining markets recently discovered, new friends and plans. It was easy to pray with understanding and faith about something so immediate and that I could see in front of me - for the people living in those exact houses or teachers and students in exactly this school.
Over the weekend, we were also able to spend some dedicated time praying for the friends of the church plant team, asking God for specific needs and favour and noting prophetic words to be passed on. This time felt particularly like a powerful and practical working together for these precious people - asking God together for His particular attention for these individuals, remembering that He sees, knows and desires each single one to come to Him. What a privilege that was. Connections of the Lazenbys involved in other Christian works in Malaga joined us for some of the time, and we were able to add bursts of prayer for them and their activities also. Sunday morning meant a service together, including learning a catchy Spanish worship song, that my 4-word Spanish and I were able to sing along to!
We then prophetically mapped out what we felt were strongholds in the city and key truths for each, which we marked onto pebbles and left around the city. I love remembering that there are now hundreds of tangible and powerful declarations of God‘s truth, love and hope dotted around Malaga.
Across the weekend, there were also times for story-swapping, late night visits to Malaga centre to see the Christmas lights, a balmy beach picnic and lovely times in-between spent getting to know one another. We ended the weekend with a time praying for the church planting team, for the Holy Spirit‘s presence. We heard such rich words from God of encouragement and strengthening and promise. Seeing the group of 20 who had come to pray with the six in Malaga, I was also so clearly reminded that of course it is not intended that we do this kingdom-building, church planting alone. We are all invited along, and sometimes just for a weekend works perfectly... Fair warning though that is does come with a high risk of wanting to go back again and see just what God does in response!
Learn more about how you can pray for Malaga, and our other pioneering situations, on our Pioneer page.