Discipleship opportunities

Hello everyone, and thank you as always for your prayers for us. I appreciate so much those of you who reach out to remind us of your prayers or to ask for more information so as to pray more specifically. At the end of the letter I’ll mention more about a new way to keep up-to-date with the ministry and how to pray with us.

I actually started writing this update in May. However, I was unable to finish and send it out before things got too crazy with the birth of our 3rd child. Aiden David Bonikowsky Rodriguez was born June 2nd in Donostia, Spain. He was our biggest so far, weighing in at 7 pounds, 15 ounces. Both he and Raquel are doing very well, and we’re so grateful to the Lord for the privilege of raising him alongside Leire and Sofia. It has truly been a chaotic month for us though! Apparently, it requires a lot of energy to keep up with 3 children under 3 years old, and that’s a commodity that runs dry quickly these days! But God’s grace is sufficient, and we’re grateful that Aiden’s 2 sisters love him to death (we do have to keep them from smothering him with hugs). It’s also such a blessing to have my parents close enough for us to see them every week, as they’re also a huge help. That’s not a usual case for missionaries!

Aiden David Bonikowsky Rodriguez
Aiden David Bonikowsky Rodriguez
The family dressed for San Marciales, the annual city festival commemorating the city’s successful defense versus a French army in 1522

In February I was contacted by a very young couple with a newborn baby. They were looking for a church where they could come and dedicate their baby boy. I told them that while I wouldn’t do a ceremony per se, I would be very happy to pray with them for the child (and parents) at the end of a church service. They have been coming to church regularly since then, and we’re additionally doing a Bible study in the book of John every week. They are simultaneously very needy and very hungry spiritually. They have a terribly unstable living situation which they’re trying their best to get out of. Please pray for me as I try to counsel them through complicated decisions. And pray for their spiritual growth as well.

We continue to see new people in church fairly regularly, and some of them stick around. We’ve also seen families who were faithful last year significantly cool down spiritually. It’s impossible for us to predict who will be faithful and, eventually, a productive church member. Raquel and I spend as much time as we have available in one-on-one or small-group discipleship. We both believe the best we can do is invest time primarily in those who are most hungry spiritually and pray for those who are weaker. I’m also trying to cultivate a culture of communication and prayer within our church so that each believer can be encouraging each other. A month or two before Aiden was born, Raquel started meeting with some of the women in church for a time of prayer and a book study. The response has been very positive.

Raquel with ladies from church

In April we held our third annual apologetics retreat during Easter break. We had a great group of believers come from different parts of Spain for 3 days of sessions about being prepared to explain our faith in a world that scorns faith. The topics have varied a lot in these three years, and in my session this time I spoke about the supposed tension between the theologies of Jesus and Paul. Virtually everyone in Spain studies in a totally secular environment where the Bible is under constant attack via arguments like these. We hope these apologetics sessions are helpful for people who have rarely had chances to study these topics. My session can be found on Youtube (in Spanish) here.

Teaching at the apologetics retreat

I’ve been sharing ministry updates here on my website every few months for the last 12 years or so, and I don’t plan to change that at all. Social media is also helpful for communicating. But recently I have been thinking more and more about a better way to share our ministry with friends who are following the ministry. Emails are long and far between. Social media updates are at the whim of an algorithm. But recently there have been multiple situations when I have appreciated having a few friends praying for me in a critical moment on short notice.

So I have created a community on the messaging platform WhatsApp where I can send out short-form updates of different types. I have a few groups for different purposes where I’ll share quick updates, prayer requests, and pictures. I realize that WhatsApp is not used much in the United States, but I’m convinced it’s the service that best matches my goals. I’ve set up 4 groups to begin with, and I’ll probably add more in the future. Most of the groups are read-only, so my wife and I will be the only ones with the ability to send messages. But there is also a discussion group and anyone can message me directly in the app as well. While it won’t be for everyone, if you’re interested in receiving more info from our ministry, you can join any of the groups below.

Those links will prompt you to download the app on your phone if you do not have it, but if you have any difficulties or questions, I am glad to help anyone get set up on the app. Also, for those of you who are in time zones far away from Spain, I can help you turn message notifications off during the night or entirely, because morning here is nighttime in America, for example.

I’ll be sending regular short-form updates on the app WhatsApp. Hope to see you there!

Thank you all for your prayers, as always. God bless!
Psalm 34:3

Regional prayer breakfast
Sunday service
I was the evil emperor Nero in our Easter cantata
Sofia and Leire in Donostia

End-of-year chaos and cheer

Hello everyone, thank you as always for your prayers for us. I apologize for how long it’s been since my last report. There’s a lot to talk about, and here are some highlights from a busy end of the year.

Soon after the war broke out, we learned of a group of special-needs orphans from Ukraine who had been brought to Spain. We’ve been involved in praying for and helping them throughout the year, and for Christmas, we organized a project where every child was “adopted” by a believer who committed to praying for them by name throughout the year. We prepared cards with some info and requests for each child, and we trust the Lord will work through the prayers of His people. We also prepared Christmas packages for each child with their favorite toys, and a note addressed to each one with the name of a person praying for them. Please pray with us for these kids, especially that those who are visiting them would be able to reach them with the Gospel.

After having to cancel it for the past two years, we finally had the 17th MTR (missionary teen retreat) at the Aierdi Farmhouse in December. I enjoyed helping with the teaching and getting to know new missionary teens from around Europe. Teens who grow up on the mission field experience many unique privileges and challenges, and the retreat was a blessing to everyone involved.

Another ministry that came back after a few years of hiatus was our evangelistic Christmas cantata. It’s exciting to see more and more of our church members getting involved in the choir ministry (we join the choir practices of the church in Irun). The week before Christmas we presented the cantata in the 3 independent Baptist churches of our province (Irun, Lazkao, and our church in Rentería). I was very happy that after many years of inviting him, one of my friends came with his wife and two children. This was the first time he’d ever come to church, so this was a very important first step for him.

Church attendance has been all over the place for the past month, as most of our church members (including my family) have dealt with illness this winter. I was quite sick for two weeks this January, and many others have had to deal with a very nasty flu season. However, our church services have been exciting as we’ve had several visiting families come recently. Pray with us for two new families who have joined the church (both with two children). Both families have recently come to Spain and have been looking for a doctrinally-focused church.

The last bit of news, though certainly not the least, is that our family continues to grow. Lord willing, in June, we’ll be having a baby boy. He’ll be the third child in three years, and we couldn’t be more grateful to the Lord!

The family keeps growing!

Thank you for your continued prayer for us, we certainly need it! God bless,

Ps. 34:3