This is the second post of tales from Madrid – click here for the first.
‘those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God’ (Romans 8:14)
Romans 8 was a chapter we returned to throughout the weekend. It’s full of powerful truth, kindness and encouragement, and it emboldened us to keep pursuing God even in difficult moments.
The truth that we are God’s children (against whom nothing can therefore stand) gave us boldness to speak to and pray for people we’d never met, like an American woman on a school trip, and José the student who was the first person we met. On the second night Holly and Miriam boldly stood on a Red Box in Puerto de Sol, pretty much the centre of Madrid, and spoke to passersby about how God wanted to know each and every person through prayer and relationship with him; they confidently spoke despite nervousness.
This ‘Red Box moment’ came about through going to a Red Box event (which began with prayer and worship led by Mexican missionaries!). Red Box is an evangelistic group who take (you’ve guessed it,) red boxes onto the streets of cities throughout the world, and stand on them to preach to anyone who is walking by. People with the Red Box group stand in the crowd and have conversations with passersby who appear interested; the night we were there, several conversations happened after people spoke about Jesus from the Box. Holly and Miriam were two of the people who stood and spoke – they spoke with clarity and truth, God giving them the words to say and the courage to say them.
The Romans 8 truth was also seen in the sense of peace we felt when we entered new places which we may otherwise have been nervous about. Staying with strangers in a foreign country with a day’s notice is not a normal thing to do – yet when we entered the flat of the woman on the first night we felt completely safe and at peace. Through the whole of the second day we felt peaceful about accommodation as well, even though we had nowhere to sleep until about 9pm. We felt the same sense of peace as we entered our home for the second night, and had a wonderful time with a couple who were the friends of a friend of a friend of Holly, Miriam and Flora. Only God could plan something like this and give us peace about it!
Finally, we knew God’s truth when the Spirit gave us words to pray for people. Romans 8:26 says
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
This was definitely the case when Flora prayed for a homeless woman who could only speak Spanish and Italian; when we tiredly prayer-walked some random streets having gone to the wrong church; when we sat in (the absolutely stunning) Roterio park and prayed with Bekah after lunch. This last time of prayer was amazing, God giving Flora encouraging and prophetically relevant words for Bekah, and giving Bekah encouraging and prophetic words for us.
The words she gave us were that we’d be like ‘streams in the desert’ (Isaiah 43:19) as we travelled on from Madrid, giving life to those around us wherever we’d find ourselves next – in Milan for Flora, Budapest for Holly, Kenya for Miriam and Assisi for me.
This prayer I think was answered for me in part even the day after returning from Madrid. I was going that evening to Clare May Ball – extravagant, expensive, Gatsby-esque and a complete contrast to life on mission in Madrid. Yet as I saw my sequinned dress hanging up in my room, I felt God say ‘pilgrims can wear these clothes too’ – and that night at the Ball I had some of the best conversations with friends about life, university, faith and God.
We are made God’s children not only when we’re intentionally and radically on mission, but also in every situation we find ourselves in. We can bring life to both Madrid and May Balls; streams run in every desert. So Escape and Pray, I’ve learnt, is not just for 48 hours but for a lifetime.
(One more post to go of tales from Madrid!)