Over the next weeks and months, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will be sharing reflections from our CBF field personnel serving around the world. These are stories of impact and outreach, Gospel-sharing and relationship building, long-term presence and abundant love.
The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Matt Norman, who serves in Barcelona, Spain, with his wife, Michelle. You can learn more about their ministries and support their work at www.cbf.net/norman.
When we arrived in Spain over seven years ago, Spain was slowly climbing out of a difficult economic crisis. It has only been in the last year or so that we had seen signs of economic growth. And then, COVID-19 hit.
People have speculated that the economic fallout will be worse than that of the previous crisis. Lines are already growing at food banks as people are without work and without a way to provide for their families. The Spanish unemployment numbers are over 16 percent and there are long waits at social services to receive assistance.
Working at the food bank of the Baptist church in Cerdanyola has been a regular part of our ministry since the beginning of our time in Spain. In addition to serving at the food bank, we have been able to provide financial support for the ministry.
Recently, while working at the food bank, the coordinator, Pedro, pulled us aside. “Thank you again,” he said. “Thank you for your hands to help and thank you for the financial support. It means so much.” He had already thanked us numerous times, but he felt the need to make sure we understood how truly grateful he was. I shared with him that we had received additional support from CBF partners and would be making another donation to the food bank. He thanked me again and shared the following:
For a short time, the normal regulations stipulating who received food had been lifted by the government. This meant that people seeking aid did not have to provide the usual authorization papers and anyone could receive assistance, making it possible for the food bank to be able to assist more people. That very morning, Pedro told me that he had seen a man digging through the trash to find metal to sell for money. (This is a common practice among those without work.)
That morning, without the regulations and with the additional support they had received, Pedro went over to the man to ask if he had food at home. When the man responded that he did not, he was invited to the food bank and given an allotment. On the way back to the food bank, Pedro saw another family and asked them the same. They too came for help.
While the regulations have been reinstated, the food bank is still serving large numbers of people—possibly the most we have seen in our seven years assisting the food bank. Before the Spanish confinement in March, the food bank served around 66 families twice a month (33 families a week). After confinement, the number served jumped to 150 families a month (75 families a week). The additional support from Cooperative Baptists has meant greater support for families.
At the Cerdanyola food bank, we are seeing the loaves and fishes being multiplied and people receiving a small glimpse of hope in the form of an allotment of food during a difficult time.