To Serve Is Our Desire
By Manu and Noemí
Our names are Manuel and Noemí, and we have been in Málaga, Spain, for about a year and a half serving with The Hanna Project and working in a local church. We both grew up in Christian families, learning the knowledge of the Bible and God.
My father has been a pastor for as long as I can remember, and I have not known any other lifestyle than serving in the church every weekend. When I was six years old, I accepted Christ as my Savior. I understood I was a sinner, and God didn’t have grandchildren. I would not inherit the Christian life simply because my parents were Christians. I had to make a decision to follow Christ myself.
At age 11, at a Christian summer camp, I felt the call of God on my life to be a missionary as I studied the life of David Livingstone. That same year I was baptized.
I continued to grow spiritually, although sometimes I drifted in my walk with Christ. I was committed and involved in the activities of the church. I sang in the choir and played the guitar for youth meetings and on Sunday nights.
When I was 16, I decided I needed to go to a Bible institute to study. I had my life planned, but God had a different plan for me. At 18 years of age, I left Spain to study in a Word of Life Bible Institute in Argentina. I planned to stay for one year, but ended up staying for three years, completing my theology degree.
Afterward, I returned to Spain and my parents’ house and began to serve in our local church again. I worked with the youth group, with the children, taught in the Sunday School, and had a discipleship ministry with the young girls. I also began to study social medicine to work with physically-challenged individuals, the elderly, and others with special needs. I worked on these studies for two years.
In 2011, I began to date Manu. We had known each other for four years. Our desire was simply to serve the Lord, as we were already working with the youth, helping out in the church, and some other ministries. But we wanted to do more.
I was born into a Christian home with parents who tried to live a dedicated life. When I was 11, I believed I had all the answers from the Bible and how to live a good Christian life. That is, until a Sunday School teacher challenged me and told me I wasn’t even saved. At first, I thought she was playing a joke on me, but after Sunday School she asked an important question that changed my life: “Why do you think you are saved?”
I answered that I read the Bible, tried to respect and obey my parents, I wasn’t that bad, and so I deserved to be saved. My teacher told me if I had sinned even one time I deserved the judgment of God and would go to Hell, which scared me because I wanted to go to Heaven.
This question caused me to have many doubts, and I spent the next week thinking about what she said. I deserved Hell. My teacher gave me some verses to read. The passage that impacted me most was Romans 3:10-18. I immediately identified myself with these verses and the next week, as soon as I got to church, I went to speak to my teacher. I told her I needed to be sure of my salvation, because I realized I was bad and told lies. She explained to me the great work of salvation through Christ, and I understood the love of God. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, and I understood He loved me just as I was.
From that point, I began to love God more and more. At summer camp, when I was 14, the missionary speaker challenged us to give our lives to God, to live our lives and all that we are for His glory. In that moment, I decided when I was older I would dedicate my life to preaching Christ as others had done for me. It is the message that can transform lives and gives the most hope that I have ever heard. It is the most important message God has given to each believer to preach. This is powerful.
Manu and Noemí
In September 2014, Mick and Rachel Donahue invited us to Málaga to see their ministry firsthand. At the same time, we were praying that God, if it was His will, would open an opportunity for us to work with The Hanna Project team in Málaga. We spent four days in Málaga (pictured below), and God confirmed each day that this was the place He wanted us to be. When a missionary friend in Cártama, a small pueblo (town) nearby, heard we were in Málaga, he invited us to his home. He said, “I have been praying you would come and help us here.” He knew nothing of our plans, but God did.
In May 2015, we married. In June, we moved to Málaga. We are working with The Hanna Project and helping in the local church. We are also collaborating in a social outreach center giving out food. Every Friday we serve 80 families. The majority are African (with some Gypsies) with various belief systems—Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, atheists, agnostics, Spiritists, etc. We have opportunities every Friday to talk with them and share a message of hope.
We also work in a local church as youth leaders with a group of 25 young people along with volunteer leaders. We help in the area of discipleship training as well. Once a week we have a Bible study and prayer time in the church, and once a week we host a home Bible study for the ladies in the area. Once a quarter, we go into the streets to share the gospel through mimes, skits, surveys, and giving out Christian literature. We also go from time to time to the open-air markets to distribute tracts and share the gospel. We are hoping to begin an outreach to the Jewish community in the next year.
We can see how God is using us to share His name with those around us. Our church has great needs, both spiritually and economically, and many church members are without work and have large families.
Each day I am more convinced that every believer in the world must commit himself to fulfilling the Great Commission. This has been the call on our lives through the years; and now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to fulfill this call.
We trust God will continue to use us in the place He desires. To serve is our desire.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).