Natalie Celebrates 10 Years in Tenerife

Posted by Katie Meyers on March 13, 2022
Natalie Celebrates 10 Years in Tenerife
David Crespo, Moraima Crespo, Dana Crespo, Mafe Carmona, Cristo Gutiérrez (and Luka), Debora Crespo, and Natalie Widman in February on a road trip up to try to see some snow on Mt. Teide on the island of Tenerife.

Faith Bible Church is a sending church. We sent Natalie Widman to Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands on January 21, 2012. Natalie arrived in Tenerife to join a church plant, partnering with Dave and Lois Belch, Nathan and Julie Thiry, and Steve and Cheryl Albrecht. Natalie has now been serving in Tenerife for 10 years, and there is much to celebrate.

The journey into full-time missions

Natalie wouldn’t be doing the overseas ministry she loves without many, many pastors, elders, and members of Faith who encouraged, discipled, and sent her.

Natalie started attending Faith Bible Church in 1997. As she got more involved, elders and families in the church noticed that she had a heart to serve and encouraged her to serve in youth ministry. She also served in the college and counseling ministries over the next several years.

Natalie was also encouraged to join Project Serve, which worked with the youth to serve the community on a local summer missions team. At the time, missions Pastor John Smith announced that the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class would be coming to Spokane for the first time, and Natalie decided to attend. Being a full-time missionary was a new idea, but that excited her.

One idea impacted her deeply: “A missionary is sent by the church. A missionary doesn’t go do what they want, they are sent by the church.”

Because she enjoyed Project Serve so much, someone suggested she apply for an overseas short-term team. In 2004, Natalie went with a short-term team to Kazakhstan. “I totally loved it,” she recalls. In 2005, she went to Pakistan, a totally different experience. Natalie started to see a need.

“I remember thinking, ‘There’s a need for missions.’”

Every year Natalie looked forward to applying for the next summer team. Yogi Naresh, the missions pastor in 2006, told her that he already knew where she’d be going that year. Dave and Lois Belch were finishing up serving in a church plant in Venezuela, and the elders would be sending a team to work with them. Yogi told Natalie her job was to learn from Dave and Lois, to watch them and see how they served.

In 2007, Natalie went with the first Tenerife short-term team. God opened many doors so that Natalie was able to get time off work and lived and served with Steve and Cheryl Albrecht for six months.

“It was as if God took a slingshot and directly sent me to Tenerife. I was so sent that no one even asked me if I wanted to go!”

After returning home, Natalie started helping with administrative tasks in Faith’s missions ministry. She returned to Tenerife with the short-term teams from 2008 through 2011. During this time, Larry Klock was serving as missions pastor. He and his wife, Marilyn, finally told Natalie to pack her bags and move to Tenerife.

Faith was sending Natalie to work with the church plant in Santa Úrsula, joining the existing missionaries supported by the sending organization, TEAM. Everything was falling into place, and the elders agreed that God was clearly doing something in Natalie’s life.

“It was as if God took a slingshot and directly sent me to Tenerife. I was so sent that no one even asked me if I wanted to go!”

God’s faithfulness displayed

As a full-time missionary, Natalie keeps herself busy serving the church in Santa Úrsula, Iglesia Cristiana Fuente de Paz y Esperanza (ICFPE), through many weekly and monthly groups and events. These include youth group, women’s Bible study, and more. She strives to be purposeful when spending time with others, asking herself how she can best serve someone else.

Culturally, being together as a community is highly valued. In between the weekly events, Natalie hosts meals at her apartment. “It’s good to be together as a church.”

Natalie helps lead a youth ladies’ Bible study group.

Natalie’s signature joke is that besides living on a beautiful island with palm trees, her greatest challenge while living in Tenerife is changing her duvet cover. However, investing in others and then watching them make poor choices has been the most difficult. But God is always faithful, and Natalie has seen His faithfulness in saving the most broken people for His glory.

“You can look at the church and see that each one of these believers is a miracle,” she says.

Natalie has also seen God’s faithfulness in renewing her visa. It always seems to be a challenge, and yet He always provides a way. God has also shown His faithfulness in something as simple as receiving a care package after a rough day.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” God has made this verse very personal to Natalie over this past year. Through some health challenges, she knew God wanted her heart motives to be correct. Natalie asks herself: “Am I thankful? Am I not complaining? Am I doing everything for God’s glory?”

Recently, Natalie has been growing in the area of prayer. It’s easy to think that something is too big for God to answer, and yet He does anyway. Quarantine has made it challenging to be together, but it hasn’t stopped believers’ ability to pray for one another.

“Being able to pray specifically for people, be in contact with them, and see God work through the Word of God is pretty cool,” Natalie says.

Partnership opportunities

People at Faith and across the world still support Natalie’s ministry on a daily basis through prayer, encouragement and practical giving.

Natalie and the other youth leaders are trying to take 12 of the church youth to Barcelona in April for a conference called Misión Posible. Because of the pandemic it hasn’t happened for four years, so the young people are very excited to be able to attend if they can raise the money.

Currently, the church is meeting on the first floor of an apartment building. Church starts at 11:00, which is considered early, so they’ve received some complaints about the noise level. The church is praying and trusting God to provide a new building or building site with room for lots of parking and a kitchen – a place where they won’t disturb the neighbors. Fundraising for this purchase is almost at the halfway mark, with TEAM matching those funds.

The church tracks their fundraising progress for purchasing a building or site where they can build.

Natalie loves hearing from her friends worldwide through WhatsApp and other media, as well as the occasional care package. It’s a huge encouragement to Natalie to know people are praying, and she loves receiving replies to her email updates.

“It’s encouraging to know that someone has read them and is praying.”

Katie Meyers

Katie writes for a digital marketing agency. She grew up at Faith Bible Church and serves in Aspiring Women and as a writer for Living Faith magazine. 

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