Tag Archives: Spain

A woman’s war against babies

rebecca_gomberts dutch doctorWith a missionary’s zeal, Rebecca Gomperts promotes abortion in countries where it’s illegal. She believes she’s saving the planet from overpopulation, women from unsafe procedures and democracy itself.

In 2001, the Dutch doctor founded Women on Waves and sailed to Ireland with a plan to take pregnant women aboard, sail 12 miles offshore into international waters, administer abortion pills, then sail back to harbor as a means of protesting anti-abortion laws.

She hit a snag when conservatives in Holland, under pressure from the European Union, said she wasn’t licensed. She returned home amid reports that her mission was a publicity “sham.”

women on waves restricted abortionBut Gomperts didn’t give up. She fund-raised and sailed again – to Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.

In February, her abortion boat was chased away from Guatemala. “The boat of death has arrived in Guatemala,” Congressman Raul Romero groaned, and President Jimmy Morales ordered the Navy to block abortion advocates from disembarking and prevented Guatemalans from boarding.

Undeterred, Gomperts redirected her crew to Mexico, which also largely restricts abortion.

“What she is doing is essentially a protest worldwide. They go around to countries that limit access to abortion as a publicity stunt,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president of Operation Rescue. “I think it’s extremely dangerous. They bring people out to the boat and give them an abortion pill and send them home and the abortion boat leaves. There’s no follow-up care. 6-7% of women who take this pill need surgical intervention after. It’s really irresponsible.

rebecca gomperts abortion doctor“They kill innocent children and leave women vulnerable. They just want to make a point, and they don’t have the best interests of the women in mind.”

If you read about Gomperts online, media accounts lionize her. She was made into a hero by the 2014 film “Vessel.” She is portrayed as persecuted, brave, and altruistic. Stories read eerily similar to accounts of missionaries preaching the gospel in danger of their lives and hounded by hostile people groups.

And she’s been successful. When she was blocked by two Portuguese warships from entering harbor in 2004, she countered by appearing on television. She portrayed herself as the victim and women as victims. Abortion was the answer to patriarchal oppression, she said.

When a participant on TV questioned the legality of her work, she retorted, “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about. Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.”

Within two and half years, Portugal legalized abortion, the New York Times reported. Read the rest of the article about the abortion boat.

Everybody else is playing slo-mo: Messi the dangerous

Here’s some more Messi hyperbole: He’s a superhero. Worldclass players just aren’t as fast as him. He sees his way out of traps faster. He sees and sends through-balls faster. He cuts surgically faster. He curls in shots faster.

Lionel Messi led FC Barcelona to its second championship this season with two goals. The first was a solo goal that befuddles four (even six) defenders. That’s half the Atletic de Bilbao team. In the end, Barca dizzied their opponents to secure the King’s Cup, after clinching the league the previous week. Now the only thing keeping them from a triple-crown with the European Champion’s League next Saturday is the mighty Juventus from Italy.

Seriously, Messi makes top professionals look like clumsy kids.

What they say about a soccer player of his caliber is that he is always “dangerous.” That is, he is creating danger for the opposition (opportunities to score goals). He does things that no one else can. (Well, he hasn’t walked on water yet.)

When you pray, you’re being dangerous to the devil.

Adiós España and the need for renewal

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas made two mistakes to gift two goals. Pic from Yahoo News. I don't own the rights to this, and I'm not making any money on it.

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas made two mistakes to gift two goals. Pic from Yahoo News. I don’t own the rights to this, and I’m not making any money on it.

Sixteen of the Spanish squad raised the world cup four years ago, and that was the problem with the Red Fizzle. A gaggle were from FC Barcelona, which won nothing this season. Call them the geriatric team, Spain lost 2-0 today to Chile. They got walloped previously by Holland 5-1. With no chance to advance from the group stage, they’re packing their bags.

What happened to the team that made opponents wet their pants? What happened to Spain must not happen in the church. Maybe Coach Vicente Bosque thought to stick with what’s tried and true — he got what was tired and through.

For Christians, it’s easy to employ yesterday’s successes, to trust yesterday’s victories. It’s easy to NOT seek Jesus for fresh manna today.

Sensing their demise after the second Chile goal, Spanish players reform to kickoff positions. Pic from Yahoo News. I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

Sensing their demise after the second Chile goal, Spanish players reform to kickoff positions. Pic from Yahoo News. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Actually, I love Spain as a team. I learned futbol as a missionary in Guatemala, with its affinity to its Mother Country. All of my friends are gasping and fainting and asking themselves: How can it be?

As much as I love Spain, I saw it coming. Spain revealed a blunted edge in the Confederations Cup, a preliminary competition one year before the World Cup. Coach Bosque failed to see the writing on the wall, feared to shake up the status quo and jettison the old guys whose output would be less.

Let the Christian take heed and worry about renewal. Renew or fail.


The Red Fury flickers: the cycles of soccer

My Guatemalan buddies are wailing unconsoled over Spain’s loss humiliation at by Netherlands, a 5-1 spanking that upended the Red Fury’s hegemony. Actually, Spain hasn’t been overlords for long. Until they won the EuroCup six years ago, they were the world’s historic underachievers. But then the won the World Cup and another Euro Cup and imposed superior football wherever they pleased.

They were gracious overlords. Once when thumping Italy, Spain goalie Iker Casillas asked the ref to end the game earlier to mitigate the damage done to such formidable rivals. Gracious, but unbeatable.

No more. At last year’s World Cup warmup tournament (called the Confederations Cup), they looked worn-out against Brasil. Fans laughed them off the field.

They looked spent again yesterday. Netherlands, which fell to Spain in the World Cup final last time, exorcised the spirit of football from them yesterday. The Orange Machine played fast and tight defense in the mid-field (where Spain is usually master). They shut down passing lanes. They played brilliant counter-attack. They pulled off mouth-watering goals that will contend for best-ever in the highlights videos for decades to come.

spainsdownfallSpain withered. Midfielder Xavi Hernandez — usually an incomparable play-maker with pinpoint passes that penetrate — was a non-presence. Impeccable Iker Casillas flubbed a backpass which gifted Van Persie a goal. Starlet Diego Costa probed he’s better at diving than scoring in open play.

“Let’s go, Spain!” my former student posted on Facebook. “Let’s go back to Spain,” I wrote in the msg. It’s not that I have anything against Spain. Actually, I love the team.

But I recognize that the cycle has ended, as it does for all teams. As aces grow older, they lose quickness and hunger. They become over-confident. They lose. At this point, it appears clear that the world of soccer is ready for a new king. Spain will have to reinvent itself, shed its fading stars and cultivate an entirely new crop. Only Andres Iniesta played like a star yesterday.

All this is good for me. It’s been four years since I have actively pastored. Right now, I’m one of 20 assistant pastors at my mother church. I’m champing at the bit to pioneer again. If I’m not announced at this conference, I’ll have to see what I can do because as Jeremiah said: “the fire is burning in my bones and I can’t keep quiet.”

It’s important to stay humble when you have wild success as a Christian or as person. It’s also important to know how to reconfigure when you are in a low or a failure. Will Spain ever be back to the peak? I’m more concerned about my own cycles of life.

Amazing Granada

Granada at night

Granada is the most enchanting place. The Alhambra citadel complex with vast gardens and huge medieval structures graces this Southern city in Spain. It was here that I first met Europe. It was here also that God taught me about prayer.

As a penny-pinching missionary, I never thought I

Part of the Alhambra complex

could visit the Old Continent. By preaching for Bro. Gregorio Ponce, I got housing, transportation, and tour for free. There I saw Carlos V’s palace, a circular structure with an amazing echo when you’re in the exact middle.

There I learned once again how to pray. You see, I was worried. For some reason, I feared that

Part of the Alhambra complex

while I was cavorting in Spain, my church back in Guatemala would go to pot. So I prayed like crazy. When I got back to my church, it was better than ever. Not only had it not crumbled from within, it had blossomed in my absence.

So I didn’t need to be there in person because God was there in person. His Holy Spirit was tending the sheep in my absence. All I did was pray. Prayer is amazing stuff. You can accomplish much more with prayer than you can with your own strength.

Carlos V’s palace

I cherish the memories of Granada — the beauty of the city AND the beauty of prayer.

Don’t cry if you won’t fight

Muhammad XII surrendered the grandiose castle complex of La Alhambra in Granada, Spain, without much of a fight in 1491. Built on a hill on three sides, this last outpost of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula could have withstood siege indefinitely. But it is told that Ferdinand and Isabella sweetened a bloodless surrender offering untold riches to the sultan.

As he slowly left La Alhambra on his horse, Muhammad cried at thought of nearly 800 years of glorious Muslim reign in Spain coming to an end. His mother reproached him: “Don’t cry like a woman for that which you wouldn’t fight like a man.”

Christianity calls for us to fight. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers… — Eph. 6:12 KJV. We are not to sell out or otherwise surrender easily. If we have a price, the devil will buy us out.

Fight in such a way that you show you really intend to establish and maintain the glories of God’s kingdom.

A sense of destiny

In Spain’s semifinal triumph over Portugal in the recent Euro Cup, Cesc Fabregas experienced “a funny feeling, a premonition,” before the game that he would score the winner in a penalty shootout. His was the fifth shot, and the daisy chopper ricocheted off the post and into the goal, out of reach of the goalie.

Now, I don’t know if Fabregas is New Age, psychic or just plain creepy. But he exhibits something that you as a Christian leader must not lose: a profound sense of destiny.

You won’t be able to carry on your labors if you forget that God has destined you to success. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do — Eph. 2:10 NIV.

A sense of destiny will carry you through the valley of the shadow of death. It will keep you looking up as you suffer blow after blow. A right focus will sustain your courage and encouragement.

Though I’m suspicious of Fabregas’ source of inspiration, I admire the simple fact that he plays inspired soccer. We must deliver inspired ministry.

Teams, not individuals, win

Fernando Torres, winner of the Golden Boot

Spain showcased masterclass soccer yesterday to beat Italy 4-0 and become the first nation to win three major titles consecutively: Euro Cup, World Cup, Euro Cup. And it did so without a clash of egos.

By contrast, Netherlands melted down in group stage and fell well short of expectations. Arjen Robben ripped his jersey off and stormed out of the stadium  because he was upset over being substituted by the coach. The rifts were evident.

Unity leads to victory

Spain demonstrated how to win. Top-notch players weren’t selfish, setting up goals for others instead of taking it themselves. Fernando Torres humbly hooked a pass to a comrade on a shot he could have easily made himself. It was the last goal of Cup. Such selflessness could have cost him the Golden Boot award.

This team triumph is a lesson for the church. Our culture tells us that individuals get the victory (Superman, Rambo and a host of movies promote this myth). But the Bible tells us it is His church, a collection of people, that will prevail. I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. — Mt. 16:18 NIV.

To achieve this utterly crucial unity (see Acts for examples of unity = revival), there is a need for humility, always out of vogue with the flesh. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. — Lu. 14:11 NIV. Robben should learn from the Bible.