Some were not interested in losing their power and corrupt privileges. Others preferred to continue their religious life with a “straw God”.
It was the first Spanish evangelical association dedicated to social action. They celebrate 30 years of serving the poor from a biblical perspective.
“Misión Urbana” (Urban Evangelical Mission) is a Spanish evangelical association that aims to serve and support those in need, by providing a humanitarian, physical, psychological and spiritual help; along with a communication of the gospel.
Protestante Digital talked with its founder, Juan Simarro, now that the association is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
PIONEERS IN SPAIN
“Misión Urbana” was founded in 1985, when “there was a great economic crisis, and people begun to be more aware of the social problems”, because “drug addicts were in the streets, poor people slept in the park, and many children begged”, he says.
Simarro knew the Urban Evangelical Mission in UK, and decided to bring it to Spain. These kind of associations did no exist in the country and he did not have any previous experience.
“Despite all the difficulties, we start to talk with many contacts, and visited several churches. and it worked out, both churches and individuals trusted us and sent money for the creation of the association.”
REDUCING POVERY AND PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL
The aim of “Misión Urbana” “has always been to reduce poverty in the big cities, along with the concept of urban evangelism.
“One of the things that really surprised us at the beginning, was all the opportunities we had to share our work and raise awareness about the importance of being close to those in need”, Simarro recalls.
One of the key points of Mision Urbana is the cooperation with local churches, they contacted with churches since the beginning, not only to work with them, but also to help them with their own social service, and today “we still keep that contact, and many churches have social programs following what we do”, Juan comments.
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
All “Misión Urbana” programs, actions, initiatives, are propeled from a biblical perspective: “A biblical reflection about the poor, the marginalised, the socially excluded has always been one of our most important characteristics.”
That emphasis in the Bible, led the association to publish several books about social topics, as well as giving conferences, organising workshops, writing articles for the media and talking in different churches; both in Spain and Latin America.
“In every book or article published, in our conferences and workshops, we have been able to explain that social service is more than just assisting those in need, or working for the reintegration of the marginalised into society”, the Mision Urbana founder affirms.
One of the biggest social problems Europe is facing today, is the arrival of thousands of people who leave their countries in conflict, looking for a place to survive.
As Christians, Juan Simarro believes, “we should respond, so that we will not commit a sin of omission, we cannot look to the other side. The Bible asks us to protect, and not to rob the strangers, the refugees, the migrants, and it is our Christian and ethical duty to help them.”
“I see people without a Christian foundation, offering their houses and resources, so willing to help... and I wonder why there is not such an answer from evangelicals, or even bigger, because we have the values Jesus has given to us”, he concludes.