WEC International was sending missionaries to Spain from the 1960s onwards. They had a difficult time of it. When they gave presentations of the gospel in the public parks, hardly anyone listened, except the drug addicts. After much soul-searching, and probably trying every other alternative, in 1985 one or two single male WEC missionaries started opening their apartments to these same addicts.
Somehow all the ducks lined up and something wonderful happened. This small start grew, through God’s blessing, into a movement called Betel that now runs 60 homes for recovering heroinistas in 23 Spanish provinces, and has spread to 25 other countries.
More than 200,000 of the neediest and most despised people of the earth have passed through Betel’s doors in the past 30 years and, of those who stayed, many have turned their lives around. Awards and accolades have followed.
I’ve met graduates of these schools. When I stand praying next to these big, beautiful, scarred, tattooed people, my watery Anglican spirituality feels like some distant relative of authentic Christianity — genetically a bit similar but lacking in sap or blood. Betel, this child of evangelical mission to Spain, has rediscovered the gospel. From the most obscure of beginnings, the authenticity and power of what they have achieved has altered the landscape. Wonderful.