“I think that the Basques are actually an unreached people group with regard to the gospel. Those who do know something are generally older. People of my generation and younger, the emerging generations… they don’t really know about the gospel.”
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, local partner Daniel Scott and his family have been living in the Basque Country for seven years. They planted a Spanish-speaking church in a small town, Tolosa, and last year they moved to a village called Usurbil, pursuing a vision to reach Basque people in their own language, Euskara.
Reaching the Basque people takes time. Euskara is a difficult language to learn and Basques don’t find it easy to trust others, meaning friendships are not built overnight.
After seven years’ hard work at language learning, communication with Euskara speakers has become easier, and Daniel says that friendships, once built, are solid. Daniel, his wife Marta and others are now in the early stages of planting a church in the village of Usurbil.
According to Daniel, the gospel is spreading differently in the Basque Country compared with in his native Argentina: “It’s not like what sometimes happens in Latin America where there’s a sort of a massive kind of conversion to Christianity. It’s a process and God touching the lives of individuals. And often in a surprising way.”
One of the surprising ways God has been working among the Euskara is through a traditional Basque art form, bertsolaritza. Hundreds of years old, this art form of improvised song is still popular today, often among groups of young people who gather specifically to sing to each other and hone their technique.
Daniel was invited along to a group of bertsolaris (bertsolaritza singers) to learn more about their art form.
When they gather, the group will usually pick a topic and improvise around that. After he had been going to the group for about a year, the group suggested improvising on a topic within religion, partly because they knew Daniel was a Christian. Their inspiration was some graffiti which said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free,” signed off by Jesus.
After improvising on the topic, they started asking Daniel questions. What did he think about this quote? Daniel took the opportunity to share the gospel with them, talking about the love of God and the grace of God.
Several of the young people commented that what he shared was different to what they’d heard from the Catholic church, and that what Daniel was saying made much more sense.
“I spoke about how there was a monster inside each one of us, sin, that doesn’t allow us to be free. And no religion, no matter how many things there are in it, can take that out of us. And Jesus came to free us.”
Daniel’s vision is to see lots of communities in the Basque Country praising God and receiving the word of God in their own language.
“Our dream is that Basque people will respond and take the movement forward… But we’ve got to start.”