In 2005, I arrived to the infierno of summer of Spain's blistering hot capital, Madrid. Tapas and Real Madrid were my reality for the time. I met Eric from the USA who invited me with his lovely family to visit the Tour de France which was passing through the Basque region between Spain and France.
To cheer for the sweaty riders, I had donned the Australian, U.S. and Spanish flags (I find it hard to choose a team), and as Lance Armstrong raced past, I found that my apparel was attracting attention. The green-flag-bedecked Basque crowd began to call out in my direction, “Franco is dead!”
And sadly the stereotyping and blame is also found in evangelical churches in Spain and the Basque Country. Most believers here reflect their society’s values, more than Jesus’. Rather than humbling themselves to contextualize and forgive, like Jesus with the Samaritans, they further embed the separation with misconceptions and disunity. For example, Spanish (not Basque) is the predominant language of the small, struggling evangelical churches in the region, and some even see Gospel ministry in the Basque language as a compromise of the Gospel (read my story about this here).
In Spain and the Basque Country, the hurt and violence of the past has been carried out by both sides. Yet Jesus is not on either side. He is for both peoples.
If we as believers do not embrace Basque language, culture and identity, the Basque people will be left to the muddled images of a religion that mixes with Franco, the inquisition, and a Jesus marred by oppressive politics and historical wounds. Thus, we can only expect a disbelief in the idea that Jesus is for them. This is true anywhere in the world where a culture is depreciated in the church.