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Checkpoint Autumn 2022: MOCLAM discipleship in Spain

CMS missionaries Jim and Tanja French, serving in Valencia, Spain, are passionate about discipling Spanish people to grow in maturity in Christ. Here Jim briefly discusses the why, what and how of their current ministry.

We have been in Spain for just under three years working with the MOCLAM team. [1] Through the MOCLAM work in Spain we have had wonderful discipleship opportunities, particularly with couples, and through one-to-one meetings. Class numbers are usually small, which means we are not only delivering the material, but also sharing our lives and walking alongside our students in their struggles, triumphs, and ministries.  

Towards Christian maturity 

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s book The Trellis and the Vine has greatly helped us here in Spain to focus on where we are headed—which is Christian maturity for those we are discipling. Marshall and Payne outline four stages in maturing a person in Christ: outreach, follow-up, growth, and training. [2] Many Christians have a focus on evangelism—for this is the only way that people are brought out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. However, evangelism (as Marshall and Payne highlight) is just one part of the wider disciple making process that sees a believer grow into maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15). 

Maturity in Christ is what we are hoping to achieve through the MOCLAM course in Spain. 

Through the courses we have seen the immense value in equipping people to read and understand the Bible for themselves through the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. 

All our MOCLAM students know the gospel, but they have not always been discipled well. We see this in their decision-making regarding money, personal and church relationships, and commitment. Though mature Christians can be found here in Spain, there is a general lack of discipleship (whether one-to-one or in groups), especially amongst younger people. 

What our discipling looks like in Spain  

Tanja has lived in Spain previously, speaks fluent Spanish and was discipled faithfully in a church in Madrid. She began teaching classes soon after we arrived, and now has a great group of 12 female students throughout Spain. She teaches some students face-to-face in a small class here in Valencia, and through Zoom in other places.  

Tanja teaching the MOCLAM Old Testament course 1 in person after many online classes.

As I am currently focusing on learning language and culture, I’m discipling just one student, Joel. He is a journalist for a European Christian online magazine (Evangelical Focus) and is heavily involved in the Evangelical Alliance of Spain. He is an elder/teacher in his church too. His wife Ruth is in Tanja’s women’s group.  

Joel and Ruth grew up in Christian families and have had many people walk alongside them. Both have come through the Bible student group here in Spain (GBU).The MOCLAM material has given them a fresh insight into reading and understanding the Bible through the lens of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. For them, it has been a bit like a light going on, especially regarding their understanding of the Old Testament. One practical outcome is that Joel has started preaching through Deuteronomy in their church. 

Joel and Ruth are a significant ministry couple. Our prayer is that they and others like them will be used by God to have a growing impact in churches in Spain. We pray that God would use us and the MOCLAM material to bring more and more people to maturity in Christ. 

[1] MOCLAM is a Bible-based course originally developed in Australia at Moore Theological College.

[2] Marshall, Colin and Payne, Tony. The Trellis and The Vine 2009, Matthias Media: Sydney. p. 85

PRAY

Thank God for the focus on discipling that Jim and Tanja have been able to achieve through MOCLAM, and pray that gospel training will continue to spread through churches in Spain.