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Mineral Wells Team
“Más! Más!” “More! More!” cried the fascinated crowds as our Baptist team and Texas volunteers sang and rang handbells Easter Week ("Semana Santa") in Caceres, Extremadura. From March 31 to April 7, 1996, there were 129 Baptists in Cáceres (23 Texas volunteers, 28 missionaries, 22 MKs, and 56 Spanish Baptists including three youth groups).
Baptists were treated like royalty. Doors that had been firmly shut to Baptists for over five hundred years swung open. We were given the keys to a beautiful 15th century palace to use in the historic monumental city and were cordially invited by a Viscount to visit his elegant palace.
City officials presented Baptists an engraved plaque. Texas volunteers led by Clinton Watson, presented fancy cowboy hats and a Texas flag to the mayor. Color photos of Baptists broke front page on Spanish newspapers and appeared on Spanish television news! The article Baptists bring a Texas accent to City Hall applauded Baptists as genuine Christians. The mayor and city councilmen personally attended our concerts and publicly invited us to return again soon. Permission was granted for Baptists to publicly perform in the city theater and anywhere in the city with singing, handbells, drama, clowning and puppets!
The largest local bank officially sponsored the project. Bank executive Raimundo Holgado put up banners over the streets, and printed posters for shop windows, and 20,000 hand bills for the team to distribute.
But even more amazing was that the Bishop gave Baptists the exclusive use of the Precious Blood Church, an impressive 500-seat, ornately decorated, 18th century church in the very center of the crowded city center!! The two programs in the church were to capacity audiences and received standing ovations and calls for encores.
The choir, directed by Steve James, sang and rang bells for an additional hour on the church steps to a large crowd gathered in the square below. Missionaries with singing talents donned extra robes and joined the choir. Diane Wittman and Jeff Wallace provided outstanding special music accompanied by David Dixon on the theater’s grand piano. Spanish Baptist volunteers performed drama, puppets, clowns and Spanish choruses both in the concerts and outdoors in city parks.
Children, teens and parents were fascinated by the Spanish puppets teams, clowns and drama in city squares. Spanish groups led by the Rogers, Dixons, Hesters, Combs and McVays roughed it by staying in the city campground. Though the first day was very stormy and the nights were cold, their hearts were always warm and their spirits were never dampened as they shared their faith. The Texans generously distributed hundreds of small toys, pencils, tie pins and Texas state maps.
An international chorus of prayer undergirded the whole campaign with prayer warriors using a daily prayer calendar and e-mail updates provided by Joy. Morning devotions in the palace were led by Jerry Cadenhead and Larry Henry.
At the farewell banquet, councilman Angel Arroyo expressed his public appreciation, not only for the Texans' visit but especially for "sharing their faith in Jesus Christ". Candidly Angel described how this was the first time any non-Catholic group had been officially received by this staunchly Roman Catholic province. Two other mayors in nearby cities had invited Baptists as well. There was only time to visit the castle city of Trujillo, where we sang in the city theater and were officially received afterwards.