History of the Gospel-in-Spain Foundation
The birth of the 'Gospel
in Spain' tradition and the contacts with the Protestants in Spain date
back to the persecutions those Protestants were subjected to at the beginning
of what is called: the Second Reformation, in the second half of the 19th century.
One of those noble men pursued for their faith was Manuel Matamoros, who visited not only London, but also Holland, during his itinerations as an outcast. He stunned and baffled the high society and higher middle class people he met with his accounts of the persecution of the Protestants at that time in his homeland.
At that time the Roman Catholic Church tried to recapture the lost ground in Holland, which did irritate most of the thoroughly protestant people in the big cities, and so the stories of Matamoros and others had quite an impact.
Committees were formed, here in Holland just as happened in England and Germany, for help and assistance for the sorely tormented and only recently budding Protestant church(es). This movement was the beginning of the Foundation 'Het Evangelie in Spanje' which started as a committee of that name, founded in 1871 by the Hon. Constance van Loon and M.J. van Lennep, esquire. The committee turned 1-1-1872 officially into a Society, but until 1954 there was only talk of the Committee.
Now this Society was a house owner in several cities in Spain, since the churches there never were acknowledged, and could have no properties for a long, long time. But the moment they could, we made over to them the deeds of the buildings in Málaga, Seville and Utrera, and where else we had possessions in Spain. The only goal of the Society has always been to be of service, and nothing else.
We tried to do so in different ways. There were
always personal contacts, and frequent journeys if and when possible.
For some decades we received on a nearly yearly base one of the ministers for some weeks here, took him to several churches in Holland, where they would talk about their country, their church and their faith. On Sundays they would assist in one or two services, preaching and telling about their situation, and of course their would be ample possibilities for the people to do their part, which resulted in a nice sum the minister could take home for the church as a whole. Our ministrations were always top-down, and our policy was to help persons through the top of their church. It still works best that way.
We assist, but we never indulge in charity. The projects we try to further are approved by the board of the churches we are in contact with. Those are mainly the long term rooted churches I.E.E.. and I.E.R.E. This has historical roots: Mrs. Constance van Loon had personal contacts with the people in these churches, and they have been recognized by Spanish law as being Spanish, and belonging.
There have been many raids from abroad into Spain in order to evangelize the people, but often a very foreign mark was put on those churches, which made they were despised and rejected by co-patriots.
Since the new lawgiving around 1978 there is official freedom of religion in Spain. But that is only official.
Maybe the people don't suffer anymore for their
faith, but they are still on sufferance, and are wary of their connections and
Being a protestant is something one is not yet fully relaxed about.
Our Society, which changed into a Foundation for purely technical reasons on 5-12-2000, keeps the relations up, and tries to hearten the sisters and brothers in Spain up by personal contacts and prayer, by love and financial help where needed, and in as much as we can.
We feel that this goes on, even now the situation in Spain and within the churches are changing, and we hope and pray that in changing conditions we may be there for them as always.
The board had mostly at least some ministers as members, and from the different protestant churches in the Netherlands. It proves more and more difficult to find people with some knowledge, understanding and time, but no doubt they will be found!
At the time of the Society, we had members and
friends that helped financially. As a Foundation we still depend on the friends
- without them we could do nothing!
May God bless them and us all.