Albright/SPAIN Email Update #42:
Our Deacon is Fined $5,000 for Passing out Tracts on the Street
I have alluded to this rather absurd circumstance in a previous letter, but since we first learned of the fine things have gotten much worse. In April we received the official declaration from the city charging him with up to$5,000 for a “grave infraction of municipal law”. It has forced us to hire a lawyer and consult with legal authorities
In March our faithful member, evangelist and Deacon José Macias was peaceably distributing custom-printed tracts from our church, as he does 2-3 times a week, setting a wonderful example for the rest of our congregation. Several years ago José received a pension for a relatively minor mental disability, but has rejoiced since then because it frees him to dedicate time on the sidewalks and walkways of our city, witnessing by means of evangelistic literature. He himself was saved due to the courageous witness of street-evangelists, and has continued this ministry for many years.
Though this kind of activity was outlawed up until the Religious Liberty Law was approved in 1980, and formal accords with the Federation of Evangelicals as late as 1992. For nearly 40 years during the Franco Dictatorship, any kind of “proselytization” was severely persecuted. But the 1978 democratic Constitution guarantees complete freedom of conscious, expression and religion. The local municipal ordinance seeks to keep flyers and commercial propaganda from littering the streets and marring its image for visiting tourists, which is understandable. But it directly infringes on our rights of conscience, conviction and expression. We don’t litter the streets—on the contrary, we have always followed up after a tract campaign and picked up any tossed on the ground. Remarkably, In at least one case, a lady was saved in our church after having picked up a filthy, muddy, wet tract from the ground! About 40 people in her family were led to Christ later as a result!
About 2 weeks ago our lawyer informed us that our defense by allegations had been denied, and that the sentence was firm, though the amount of the fine was reduced to $500.00. But, it is his (and ours) considered opinion that if we simply pay the fine and move on, it would establish a dangerous precedent, not only for our church & our city, but also on a wider, national scale, with negative repercussions that may place this kind of evangelism in jeopardy for all evangelical believers throughout the country. So, this is not a simple issue. We need the mind of Christ, supernatural wisdom and sound legal advice. It is for this that we invite you to pray.
Our lawyer is presenting appeals that will certainly be denied, but will buy us some time until Belén and I can return to Salamanca. But we’ll have to be prepared for immediate and intense attention to this volatile & delicate situation---which unfortunately is not the only of its kind facing us.
Thank you so much for specific prayer for José, and for a pacific & amicable resolution to this case, gradually becoming a subtle but direct form of repression and persecution.
May the Lord richly bless you for it!
Kent & Belén Albright
Kent B. Albright
Mª Belén López Alvarez
Iglesia Evangélica Bautista de Tormes
Santa Marta de Tormes, Salamanca, España
Baptist Mid-Missions www.bmm.org
Furlough Phone: 1-816-888-1004