Early Phoenicians gave Spain its name, calling it “Span,” which means hidden or remote land. Roman legions took two centuries to complete the conquest of Spain, which became final in the 1st century AD. Vandals (a Germanic tribe) and Visigoths entered Spain from the north in the 5th century and settled there. Because of its proximity to Northern Africa, the southern parts of Spain came under Muslim control for many centuries. Spanish Muslims—called Moors—and Christian kings fought over Spain for many decades. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a Christian knight, organized an army and drove most of the Moors from Spain during the medieval period. In 1492, the final Moorish stronghold in Spain was conquered.
An age of Spanish exploration and conquest began soon after, with the Spanish Armada ruling much of the open seas. However, storms destroyed the Armada and the Spanish Empire went into decline. Modern times have seen Spain at the center of other major world events. From 1939 to 1975, Francisco Franco, a fascist dictator, controlled Spain. When Franco died, Spain became a democracy.
Although Catholicism has been present in Spain for many centuries, the Pentecostal Movement entered Spain in the 1920s. Swedish missionaries pioneered a church in Madrid, the capital, in the 1930s, and other missionaries soon followed. When Civil War broke out in 1936 all missionaries were forced out. Anti-evangelical sentiments continued after the war, hampering further evangelism efforts. In 1950 in the city of Ronda, Pentecostal ministers, Roman and Carmen Perruc, discovered a group of Pentecostal believers who had survived the war and subsequent persecutions. This group became an Assemblies of God church. The national organization of the Assemblies of God in Spain was formed in 1963.
The Movement Today
Though small, the Pentecostal Fellowship in Spain is growing. Evangelism to children, evangelism literature and correspondence courses have touched tens of thousands in Spain. Several regions of Spain have no Pentecostal work and many congregations are without fully trained pastors. The people of Spain and the church there need continual prayer. The Assemblies of God in Spain report the following statistics: 200 – 300 ministers, 200 churches and outstations, 20,000 members and adherents, one Bible school with two extension programs serving a total of 69 students. The Assemblies of God in Spain are developing a program of foreign missions with missionaries in Romania, North Africa, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, and also programs of aid in Ecuador, Cuba and the Honduras.
Additional Facts About Spain
- Capital: Madrid
- Area: 195,364 square miles
- Population: 40,217,413
- Ethnic Groups: Multiple mixes of Mediterranean and Nordic races
- Languages: Castilian Spanish (official), Catalan, Galician and Basque
- Agriculture: Grains, olives, grapes, citrus and vegetables
- Industry: Machinery, metals, textiles, tools, shoes, vehicles, processed foods and tourism.