Strangers in the Land of Startups
A US missions agency is changing the way Spain’s tech hub engages its influx of migrants.
An entrepreneurial hub on the coast of southern Spain houses more than 600 global companies in shiny, modern buildings, with rows of palm trees reflected in walls of windows. The Andalusia Technology Park, or Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía (PTA), is a bit like the country’s version of Silicon Valley. It includes tech startups, multinational companies like Oracle and Accenture … and a 90-year-old US-based missions agency called Christar.
Christar’s international team left its Dallas-area headquarters two years ago for this tech park in Málaga, Spain, eager for the chance to engage social innovation opportunities alongside the public sector. But God had another mission in store for them.
“It’s the best time zone in the world to connect with the rest of the world, there’s a good international airport, and the cost of doing business is no more than doing it in Richardson, Texas,” said Brent McHugh, who became the team’s director in 2013 and oversaw the move to Málaga.
The popular tech park’s business and innovation center was also looking for ways to develop social corporate responsibility, so McHugh hoped to partner with their tech-minded global neighbors—most of whom had no other exposure to evangelicals.
But just as Christar was getting settled, the refugee crisis was in full swing, with thousands of migrants pouring into Europe from the Middle East and Africa. While the continent initially welcomed these newcomers, within months key ports of entry began shutting down. By 2018, the new country of choice was Spain, coming straight through Málaga.
“I pulled back from day-to-day refugee ministry—then God decided to provide …