God's Miracles in Action

This is the story of a family who endorsed the words of Isaiah 6:8 "here am I, send me.”
Also the words of Joshua 24: 15 "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” It is a story full of strong emotions, pain and suffering, separation and
abandonment, of tears and open wounds; but it is also a story full of hope and
enthusiasm, faith and patience, received blessings and blessings to receive.

The theses that Dr. Martin Luther hung in the Church in Wittenberg in 1517 were quickly disseminated throughout Europe. They arrived at Spain too, where they were received with interest. Unfortunately, the Holy Inquisition endorsed by Emperor Charles V of Spain and I of Germany, eradicated all traces of Protestantism in the peninsula, burning at the stake anyone who proclaimed to be Lutheran.

More than 400 years later, a joint mission of the LCMS World Mission and IELA (Lutheran Church in Argentina), has made it possible for our family to be baptized in the Christian Lutheran faith and to be able to gather regularly to study the Word of God. Also has made it possible, after so many years, for Spain to be blessed with the first Lutheran Spanish pastor in history! To God be the glory!

A little over 7 years, shortly before the birth of our son Salvador, my husband was moved to be a pastor. That desire to become a pastor was a huge surprise for us due to the plight in which we found ourselves. At that time there were only two missionaries throughout Spain sent by the Argentinian Church. The worship services were given every two months in our home. Then and even today, there are no Lutheran churches in Spain, or research centers, schools, colleges, universities, much less seminaries. How then
could my husband become a pastor? The situation was more complicated given that my husband was the one who had a job and should support the family.

Years passed, three in particular, when I met the Middendorfs. Nancy was in Spain leading the A Cappella Choir of Concordia University Nebraska. Some time ago my husband had helped with certain preparations so that A Cappella could give a concert in our town, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia. It was a hot July 4th, 2009. The Mayor and City Council Department of Culture welcomed Nancy Middendorf, Dr. Kurt von Kampen, Choir Director, and Dr. Brian Friedrich, President of Concordia University, Nebraska, and all
the members of the choir at a reception prepared exclusively for them. I myself had the pleasure of being the interpreter for the Mayor at the welcoming and very pretty ceremony. That same night the A Cappella Choir gave an unforgettable concert for us all. That night and the days after the concert marked our lives forever.

I would like to pause here to explain briefly why I felt so deeply marked by these events. My name is Alexandra and I was raised as a Jehovah's witness. For many other reasons and thanks to God, as a teenager I decided to leave their organization. However, I felt alone and far from God, I thought I had lost Him forever. I had never been baptized so I felt there was no hope for me.

When I met Santiago, my husband, neither of us identified ourselves as Christians. One day, though, my husband got to know that there was a Lutheran Mission in Spain and wanted to make contact with the missionary pastor. I received him in our home with reluctance because I had stopped believing in human institutions. My little daughter, Maria, was baptized at home in a very intimate and personal worship service in which my husband was also confirmed.

My doubts about Lutheranism were great, but I did not want to interpose in my husband's faith. Some time later, my other two children were baptized. And by the grace of God, I myself was baptized in a small worship service on April 27, 2008, at the age of 30. When my husband told me about his desire to be a pastor I had not been baptized yet and still had strong doubts about Lutheranism. I was also wondering how it was going to be possible if he had to work for more than 12 hours a day 6 days a week. I hardly saw him at home, how could he become a pastor? My husband asked that same question for years. He even renounced to his desire to become a pastor given the impossibility (human, not divine) for that to happen.

But as I told you before, there came the day in which, thanks to Nancy Middendorf, thanks to Dr. Kurt von Kampen, thanks to Dr. Brian Friedrich, and thanks to the A Cappella Choir and with the grace of God, everything changed. The night of the concert finally arrived. All the preparations were ready, the brochures translated to the Spanish and the Catalan languages, distributed programs, authorities sitting in the front row of the concert hall... and then the music sounded.

The music sounded accompanying words of the Gospel to praise the Lord. The music
sounded and invaded every corner of the room. The music came out of the open mouths of the students of Concordia University, Nebraska, bringing all of us the most broad sense of the love of God. The music sounded and invaded our hearts and filled our eyes with tears. The music sounded and I understood that God is not only the Law that I had learned, but also the living and strong Gospel.

I was crying all during the concert with short breaks to translate the words of Dr. Kurt von Kampen and Dr. Brian Friedrich to the audience. That night, I believe that I met a God who I had not met before. That beautiful evening ended with a feast for the members of the choir given by the City Council, and there was dancing and laughter.
Two days later, our new life began…

Two days after the concert, the A Cappella Choir was in a hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona, my beautiful hometown. A meeting was going to take place in which I was asked to participate as an interpreter. After the meeting I went to the hotel's swimming pool with my kids where I found Nancy Middendorf. I barely knew her, but she was not a stranger to me. After all she had made it possible to unlock my heart from the chains of the Law. She and the choir’s music brought the Gospel, the Love and the Peace of God in my life! The tears that I shed the night of the concert were old tears, accumulated over many years and that finally were seeing the light.

I opened my heart to Nancy and I told her about our lives as Lutherans in Spain; I spoke of the impossibility for my husband to become a pastor, and I spoke of many more things and she listened. I think that God was there between us that day, opening my heart and moving Nancy to do what she did: to invite us to live in her home and the possibility for my husband to study in the United States.

Now you know the rest of the story. We are here among you, attending your Lutheran schools, universities and Church. We gather with you and we believe that we are carrying out the task that God has for us. What a great blessing! However, as I said before, this story also has tears, pain, separation and anxiety. We left behind our beautiful country, our culture, our languages (Spanish and Catalan), we have left behind our dear friends, our parents and brothers and members of our family that we will never see again in this life because they have died. Also we have left behind all the material belongings which did not fit in five suitcases, our small but cozy home, friends of our children, their beloved teachers and everything they knew.

We know that God does not promise a flat and easy-to-follow road; on the contrary,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8: 34). We know that everything we left behind are ties that we have to break to serve God in the best way. In God we trust, in His abundant hand, in His power to do all the things although they seem impossible.

Through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Alexandra Keinbaum

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