Located 1,150 kilometers off the southwest shore of Spain, the Canary Islands are made up of seven major islands and six islets. They were formed by ancient volcanoes and are known for their rich, fertile soil. The Phoenicians and Carthaginians most likely visited them before Roman mariners landed there. The Roman historian Pliny called the islands Canaria – because of the large packs of wild dogs
The Spanish Empire conquered the Canary Islands in the 1490s, and it remains an autonomous region of Spain today. The islands were divided into two provinces in 1927, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Because of its centuries-old association with Spain, most of the Canary Islands’ inhabitants identify themselves as Roman Catholics. In 1930, two Pentecostal women Amy Ausherman and Florence Isaacson, arrived on the islands and began to minister. They left in 1936, and because of the civil war that erupted in Spain and spread to the islands, they could not return.
Other missionaries followed. However, in 1973 the Assemblies of God began to reap the fruits of many years’ labor in the Canary Islands. Missionaries Anthony and Rita Giordano arrived in Las Palmas and opened Casa Agape (House of Divine Love), a beachside coffeehouse. There, they evangelized and shared the Gospel with foreign tourists and island natives.
In October 1977, the Assemblies of God in the Canary Islands held its first general convention. During the convention, it was decided that a stronger emphasis of evangelism across the islands was needed. As a result, the Assemblies of God Bible Institute of the Canary Islands was established in 1987. Thus, trained ministers and Christian workers preach the Gospel among the Canary Islands, utilizing Royal Ranges, youth camps, and Christian radio broadcasts as evangelism tools.
The Movement Today
The Assemblies of God in the Canary Islands report the following statistics: 51 ministers, 26 churches and preaching points, 2,034 members and adherents, and one Bible school with two extension programs enrolling a total of 38 students.
Additional Facts About the Canary Islands
- Provincial Capitals: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas
- Area: 2,893 square miles
- Population: 2.1 million
- Agriculture: Bananas, citrus fruits, sugarcane, figs, peaches, wine grapes, grain, tomatoes, onions and potatoes
- Industry: textiles and fine embroideries