Sharing the Good News in Spain
Loria and Mercedes Hernandez, Cuban Free Will Baptists, settled in Spain after the communist takeover of their homeland. They started a Bible study group in the capital city of Madrid. Several people were saved through their efforts.
The Hernandez family asked Free Will Baptists to send missionaries to Spain. In May 1971, in response to this plea, the Board of Foreign Missions decided to open the field of Spain.
One year later, Dock and Norma Caton were appointed missionaries to Spain. In August 1973, the Board of Foreign Missions approved the transfer of Lonnie and Anita Sparks to Spain. The Sparks had served three terms in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. Works were started in Alcalá de Henares and Majadahonda.
Many short-term and career missionaries have ministered in Spain over the years. Today, Free Will Baptists have three career missionary families sharing the good news with those in Spain.
Geography and Climate
Spain lies just south of France across the Pyrenees Mountains. She shares the Iberian Peninsula of southwest Europe with Portugal. The country is virtually surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Most of Spain’s 48 million people are concentrated in urban centers. Both Madrid and Barcelona are home to more than five million people.
Traditionally, families in Spain had many children; however, recent trends show a movement to smaller families with an average of 1.3 children per family. The population growth rate is less than one percent.
For much of its early history, the Romans and Visigoths ruled Spain. The country was the outermost territory of the Roman Empire with Roman outpost towns. Then the Moors, Muslims from North Africa, moved in and dominated the country for nearly 800 years.
In 1492, Spain became a world power. During the next three centuries the Spanish empire thrived with holdings in Central and South America, Africa, and the East Indies. Spain’s powerful world empire began to crumble; in 1898 it lost its final colonies.
From 1936-39, Spain suffered a devastating civil war culminating with the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. A peaceful transition to democracy occurred following Franco’s death in 1975. Democracy and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the European Union in 1986) gave Spain a dynamic and growing economy. In recent years, the government has focused on measures to reverse a severe economic recession that began in mid-2008. Spain currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.
Spain is a parliamentary monarchy with both a parliament and a king, Felipe VI.
Spanish, the world’s third most widely spoken language, is the official language. The nation boasts a literacy rate of 97 percent, and education is compulsory until age 16.
Approximately 73 percent of the population is nominally Roman Catholic, but only about 14% of the members faithfully practice their religion. Protestant Christianity makes up only about 1.5% of the population. Other religions include Islam, Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons.
The constitution now guarantees the right of any person or group to profess any belief or ideology. While religious liberty exists on paper, evangelicals still experience widespead difficulties and discrimination.
Although evangelical Christianity is slowly growing in Spain, around 10 million people live in areas without any evangelical witness. Over 7,000 pueblos (cities and towns) have no evangelical church of any kind.
Most Spanish churches are small and struggling to carry on the ministry, and missionaries are helping them carry the load while continuing to reach out to new people and areas.
Free Will Baptist Ministries
Since our first Spanish mission work was begun in 1976, we now have four churches. All these ministries are located near Madrid. Two churches are in Alcalá de Henares, one is in Galapagar, and one is located in Alpedrete.
Through the years, literature, home Bible studies, outdoor evangelistic campaigns and children’s classes have been used to reach people with the gospel. More and more, it seems simply building friendships and getting involved in community affairs is more fruitful than organized evangelical campaigns.
Statistics gathered from The World Factbook and Joshua Project.
Last updated September 26, 2015