Seeking revenge, Carmen[i] had set fire to a house with two people inside. Both perished, and Carmen was convicted and sentenced to prison.
While she was incarcerated, Carmen came to understand that her physical status reflected her spiritual reality. She was not free; she was condemned and imprisoned by her sin. But God graciously saved Carmen during her time in prison, and her life has been radically transformed.
Ruben, professor and academic dean of Berea Seminary in Spain, had the privilege of witnessing Carmen’s baptism, along with that of four other inmates. He said of that experience, “I was awed by the power of the gospel. I witnessed how five inmates at the prison in Leon were baptized within the same walls that alienate them from their freedom. Five prisoners who have been made free in Christ, while being in chains. Five criminals whose life was radically transformed because of the exclusive person and work of Jesus Christ.” If criminals in jail can be saved, Spaniards who live in freedom—but are equally enslaved to sin—can also be saved.
Before Spain’s lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Carmen was granted four hours of freedom per week as a reward for good behavior. How did she spend those hours she was allowed outside the prison walls? She walked for one hour to church, attended the two-hour worship service, and walked another hour back to the jail. “She longed to gather with believers,” said Ruben. “What an amazing illustration of the power of the gospel!”
After Carmen’s baptism, Ruben preached that same gospel to some of the other inmates. “What a privilege to proclaim to these prisoners that—whatever their crime was, whatever evil they have committed—the blood of Christ has the power to grant them forgiveness and set them free! Not even the impenetrable walls of prison can stop the powerful advance of the gospel.”
As Berea Seminary celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, the team reflects on the fruit that the Lord has granted through their labors in Spain. Praise God for:
- 49 graduates serving in 24 churches in 17 cities.
- 34 current students, from 26 new churches in 10 different cities.
- 37 conferences organized, with thousands of people in attendance.
- A national resident faculty of 8 professors.
- 4 guest professors who teach in addition to their responsibilities pastoring local churches.
Numbers like these can never fully communicate the extent of deeply personal ministry being accomplished. But “more graduates” is translating into “more gospel ministry.” And the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerfully saving and transforming the lives of people like Carmen. As Ruben says, “If criminals in jail can be saved, Spaniards who live in freedom—but are equally enslaved to sin—can also be saved. We ought to preach Christ crucified to a dying nation because it is the power of God for salvation.”
When you give to TMAI, you’re not just supporting students who intend to lock themselves in ivory towers with their seminary degrees. You’re helping train ministers of the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ. That means that your impact doesn’t end in the TMAI classrooms; it has a far-reaching influence on entire churches and communities, and it has a profound impact on the eternal destinies of people like Carmen. Thank you for all you do so that the gospel might go forth. May the Lord keep adding to those who will be saved.
[i] Name changed.