A Whole Bunch of Firsts!

Thank you as always for your prayers! We need them, probably more than ever before! 2021 has started off being incredibly busy. It’s of course a tremendous responsibility and challenge to be the sole pastor of my church for the first time. Of course, being a first-time parent comes with its own set of responsibilities and challenges (I’m trying to write this from the floor of my living room, where after every 2 or 3 words I have to grab Leire to protect something from her, or her from herself). Raquel and I are both working a lot, so life is a constant juggling act!

Leire is really trying to help me write this update

First of all, I want to ask you to pray with Raquel and me as we trust the Lord for some more financial support. We are both willing to work as here as much as is necessary to keep serving the Lord here. We’ve been doing this for years, but the cost of living is steep, and as we’re only about 50% supported through our mission board, we expend a lot of time and energy in secular jobs, which I believe we could spend more effectively in evangelism and discipleship. We would love to make a trip to the USA this summer to raise more support, if there are churches willing to have us present our ministry. If you know of a church that might be willing to have us come and present our ministry, please let us know!

I am very excited about how the Lord is blessing at church. We have hopefully passed the worst of the lockdown measures, and things are slowly getting closer to normal at church. This Sunday we resumed our coffee/fellowship time before the morning service, which was something everyone sorely missed. There is a great spirit of companionship between the brothers at church (and yes, I just say brothers because, while we’re grateful for the men who are a part of our church, we’re really praying that God will bring some women to the ministry as well!).

During the worst of the lockdown measures, I would go out and meet our members in their cities, since they couldn’t come physically to church (praise the Lord for internet options!). If it coincided with Raquel’s work schedule, I’d bring Leire with me, which is something nobody ever complains about. These discipleship moments are, of course, critically important for our believers. One of our men, Iñaki, wants to get baptized soon. So we met at church and painted the baptistry together as a project. We don’t have a date for the baptism yet, but Lord willing, as soon as we’re able, I’ll be doing my first baptism.

I’ve also been trying to spend time with one of the friends I met in Basque classes in 2020. We meet as often as both our schedules allow. I’ve been able to share the gospel with him, and he’s open to conversations about God. He’s usually working on Sundays, but he’s promised to come to church some week when he’s able. Last week, Raquel and I went out for a picnic with him and his girlfriend, which was a great opportunity!

Some great views while hiking with my friend

Raquel and I have kept on making music videos in Spanish, as time permits (I average 40-50 hours for each of these music videos). We recently produced a Christmas song and an Easter song. It’s always a blessing to receive pictures from people in churches around Spain where they play the songs as special music for their holiday services! The most recent song was Consumado (The Victory is Won).

Raquel has started a new ministry using Facebook and Instagram’s “stories”. They’re short video clips that are really popular nowadays with young people. She records herself daily reading a daily devotional though and posting it on social media for people to watch. They’re of course in Spanish, but if you want to get them, you can add her on Facebook or Instagram.

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Daily thoughts from a devotional book shared on social media

Thank you again for your prayers!

God bless,
David Bonikowsky
Psalm 34:3

Growth in Complicated Times

I wonder whether seminaries in upcoming years will begin offering classes like: “Dealing with Disasters” or “Going Past PowerPoint in a Pandemic”! Things have certainly been interesting in 2020 here in Spain, but I could not be more grateful for how God has led our church through these times. It’s hard to believe this is the end of our family’s second year at the Puerto church because it feels like every month is something entirely new!

And speaking of things new, in case you don’t follow us on social media and haven’t seen, Raquel and I are the proud parents of Leire Allison Bonikowsky Rodríguez! The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but she’s absolutely worth it! We’re thankful to God for Raquel’s safe and quick delivery in the middle of a pandemic. Leire is growing well and quickly, and though in these masked times she’s practically never seen anyone but her parents’ smiles, she’s an exuberantly happy baby with a laugh to melt your heart!

Roy and Lou Ann Keiser, the missionary couple that led the Puerto ministry before us, put their house on the market in 2019, and God (pretty much miraculously) allowed them to sell their house in the middle of an economic meltdown in Spain. They were able to retire and return to America this November, leaving the Puerto church entirely as our responsibility. We are so grateful for their many, many years of ministry here in Spain, and we know God will reward them as faithful servants.

As I write this, the mobility restrictions in our province are quite high. There is a curfew beginning at 10 PM (which may sound late to friends in America, but here that’s still dinnertime!). People are not allowed to leave their city of residence unless it’s for work or a few other approved reasons. I as a pastor can move pretty freely to do ministry tasks, but Raquel and Leire haven’t been able to go to church in person for over a month. Since the church is in Rentería, only those who live in the city of Rentería can attend services (about half of our people, including us who live in Irun). It appears some of the restrictions will be reverted next week however, so we hope to resume more of our services in-person before Christmas.

This Christmas for the first time we will be participating in the Gospel postcard project my father has organized for quite a few years at the Lazkao church ministry. We will be mailing a Christmas postcard to every home in our church’s neighborhood (a total of 4000 homes). The postcard is in Spanish and Basque and invites people to our church. We’re praying that God will allow the postcards to reach the hands of people who are inquiring spiritually. Lord willing we hope to repeat this project each year, so people in our area eventually begin to expect their annual postcard. Thank you so much to those of you who already contributed financially toward the $400 it will cost in postage.

Postcard front
Postcard back

If you would, please pray for some of the unsaved contacts Raquel and I are working with. There’s a young man I met in my Basque classes who has shown a lot of interest in spending time together, and he’s been receptive to the Gospel. A co-worker Raquel met at her pharmacy named has also shown interest in the Gospel. Since we started doing services online she has been joining to watch them live. Pray for Raquel as she spends time with her friend and tries to bring her closer to Christ.

We trust the Lord will guide you on His plan throughout these months. Believers and non-believers are facing new experiences that serve as a reminder of our fragility and dependence on God. We pray that God will use you also to keep working out the Great Commission wherever you live.

God bless!
David, Raquel, and Leire
Psalm 34:3

My brother Danny and me with each other’s new babies