By Caleb and Sarah Burdett
The weather was beautiful for an outside birthday party, a perfect day for celebrating our oldest daughter’s fourth birthday. Because the park pavilion in our city of Logroño, Spain, is often empty, we were surprised to find company. About 20 teens sat on the adjacent picnic tables smoking marijuana and listening to loud music on their boom box. It was challenging as we tried to converse with our birthday party guests and let the children enjoy the games.
When the time came to sing “Happy Birthday,” it was clear we could not compete with the teens’ boom box. Caleb approached the group and asked if they could lower their music while they sang. The teens kindly agreed, but then Caleb went a step further. Would they join them in singing “Happy birthday”? To his surprise the teens happily obliged him and sang along enthusiastically before immediately returning to their smoking and loud music.
As the birthday came to a close, it was evident there were a lot of leftover finger foods and cupcakes. Once again Caleb approached the teens, this time to ask if they would like some of the food. Initially no one responded, until one brave and hungry teen said, “The cupcakes too? I will!” The rest followed suit with the trailblazer and in a matter of minutes every piece of food had been consumed (all except the vegetable platter!). Some of them even asked us why we, as Americans, were in their country. It was a great lesson for us in how a bridge could be formed with an age group with whom we have little in common and that often seems unapproachable and uninterested. Who knew that a simple act of kindness and a few homemade cupcakes could go so far?
In northeastern Spain where we live and minister, it’s culturally unacceptable to approach someone to talk with them without “permission,” such as when your kids are playing together in the park, or you are part of the same apartment building or running group, or you simply need to ask for directions. Thus, finding connection points to enter into a conversation with an unbeliever is a constant necessity.
In our context, two things have proven important for generating gospel conversations:
1. Being intentional in planning daily times at the playground when other families will be there, and
2. Being flexible in our schedule to allow for gospel opportunities that spring up at inconvenient times, like on the way to pick up a child from school, or on the way to an appointment. Because, more often than not, the greatest opportunities come at the least convenient times.
The Burdetts are team church planters in Logroño, Spain.
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