A terrorist van attack killed 13 people and injured more than 80 others in a popular tourist area of Barcelona, Spain on Thursday, 17 August. It is the latest in a series of horrific vehicle related attacks in several European cities over recent months and was quickly followed early Friday morning by another fatal incident in Cambrills, 120km south west of Barcelona. One woman died and six were injured in this second incident. Later in the day a stabbing resulted in two dead and eight injured in what looks like a similarly motivated incident in Turku, south west Finland.
Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church across Europe have been quick to express their sorrow and horror at yet more such incidents and are calling for prayers for those affected by the incident.
Óscar López, president of Spanish Union of Seventh-day Adventists talked of “the horror” and “families broken” at Las Ramblas in what he called the “nonsense of hatred.” As with many, he is offering prayer for those affected and is horrified by the violence. However, he says, “today we need to express clearly that the foundation of the Gospel is the love of our neighbor and, as Christians, we long for a better world where justice reigns. Until that world comes, we are committed to making our world a better place.” Read his full statement in Spanish here.
“We live in a time of violence that shocks us every day," stated Corrado Cozzi, spokesperson for the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Region. “We pray for the families of these victims in Barcelona and for those now being treated in hospital. We feel their pain, and we pray that God can console them now.”
Philip Matthew, Hope Channel’s Senior Programming assistant had to run for his life as he was less than 50 meters from where the incident took place. In a WhatsApp message to senior staff at Hope Channel he wrote, “God is merciful because looking at my running path and the map that the news has shown, the guy was probably just meters behind me in that run chase.”
Making it back to the safety of his hostel, which is also in the quarantined area, he stated, “I am thankful for God's safety.” He also confessed that it focused his mind on the hope of Christ’s soon return. He filmed the bomb squad rushing to the scene past where he was standing.
Adventist youth from Barcelona were among 4,000 youth who attended the Pan-European Youth Congress 350km further south in Valencia earlier this month. Many more passed through the city on their way to the event, admiring the architecture and stunning beauty of the city.
That congress, a spiritual highlight for young adults, also highlighted our need for care of the environment; our respect for all peoples, including those who differ from us; and a desire to let people know that love and compassion can outweigh fear and hate, even in situations such as the one unfolding in Barcelona.