FWBIM WORK IN SPAIN
Early History of the FWB Work in Spain
Loria and Mercedes Hernández, Free Will Baptists (FWB) from the country of Cuba, migrated to Spain after the communist revolution in their homeland. Reports indicate that they started a Bible study group in the capital city of Madrid, and as a result believed that FWB could and should have greater involvement in Spain. The Hernández family asked FWB in the United States to send missionaries. In May of 1971, the Board of International Missions of the National Association of Free Will Baptists in the United States of America (FWBIM) decided to open the field of Spain.
One year later, Dock and Norma Caton were appointed as the first FWB missionaries to the country of Spain. Board policy required that an experienced missionary couple help in the opening of a new field. For that reason, in August of 1973 the Board of FWBIM approved the transfer of Lonnie and Anita Sparks to Spain. The Sparks had already served three terms in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa. Once these two couples were in Spain and the General Director of the mission met with them, they decided to begin the first FWB work in the city of Majadahonda. The Catons located in Majadahonda. The Sparks made what they considered to be excellent contacts in the city of Alcalá de Henares, and decided to move there instead to begin a work. There were considerable philosophical differences between these first two missionary couples.
In 1977, Ron and Linda Callaway joined the work in Spain. They helped in the Alcalá de Henares work until January 1981. Dennis and Trena Owen came to Spain in 1980. In 1982, Jeff and Susan Turnbough joined the work and located in Majadahonda. In that same year, the Callaways and the Owens began a work in the city of Móstoles. The Catons left Spain later that year, and the work in Majadahonda was closed. The Turnboughs assisted with the work in Alcalá de Henares and then moved to Collado Villalba to begin the work there in 1984. That same year Lynn Midgett arrived in Spain, locating in Móstoles. In 1986, Steve and Linda Reeves arrived, and after a short time in Móstoles, they moved to help with the work in Villalba. In 1989 Dwain and Debbie Crosby, along with their children, arrived in Spain, and helped with the work in Móstoles. The next year Mark and Juli Riggs were approved, and helped in the Alcalá de Henares work. Also in 1990, the Owens transferred from Spain to help with the FWB work in Uruguay. In 1991, the Sparks and Riggs received approval from the Field Council to move to the northern coastal city of Santurce, to begin a work with a family that had moved there from the church in Alcalá de Henares. Because of a difference of opinion among the missionaries, in 1993 the Sparks and Riggs resigned from the mission, yet continued to work in Santurce as independent missionaries. In 1994, the Reeves left Spain and returned to the USA for health reasons. In 1995 the Callaways transferred from Spain to help with the FWB work in Panama and Cuba. That year the work in Móstoles was closed and the Crosbys and Lynn Midgett went to help the church in Villalba. In 1996, the Crosbys resigned from the mission and returned to the USA. Then, in 2004, Lynn Midgett resigned from the mission and returned to the USA. In July, 2008, long-time missionaries to Spain, Jeff and Susan Turnbough, moved into the role of Director of Field Operations and continued living in Spain until October of 2011, when they moved back to the States, continuing in that role.
Today, FWB have three career missionary couples working in Spain and two career couples and a single lady working with Creative Access in Spain. While many people have come to Christ and received training through the work of missionaries, two churches have been planted and two more are looking to organize as a church in the near future. Other areas of outreach have also been launched.
FWBIM MISSIONARIES TO SPAIN
(NOTE: In addition to these, many individuals have helped with the FWBIM work in Spain for shorter periods of times: overseas apprentices and groups of believers that have served for specific purposes.)
Specifics of the FWB Work in Spain Today
Free Will Baptist International Missions (FWBIM) has centered its work in the Comunidad de Madrid or the autonomous region of Madrid. This is also synonymous with the Province of Madrid. While it is one of the smaller autonomous regions geographically, it has the largest population in Spain (5,423,384). The strategy of FWBIM in Spain calls for workers to plant new churches in close geographical proximity to existing churches. The rationale behind this plan is to establish clusters of churches that can more effectively join together to help reach the rest of Spain. In 2003 there were 278 Evangelical churches in the Madrid Province, with 12,428 believers. Several municipalities were listed as needing an Evangelical work.
FWBIM has worked in four different municipalities inside this province or autonomous region: Alcalá de Henares (170,000), Majadahonda (40,000), Móstoles (192,000), Collado Villalba (53,000), Alpedrete (10,000), and Colmenar Viejo (40,000). There has also been an effort to begin a work in the Northern coastal city of Santurce (50,000). There are organized Free Will Baptist (FWB) churches in Alcalá de Henares and Collado Villalba.
Family members of some of the members of the first Alcalá de Henares congregation moved to the Northern Basque Coastal city of Santurce, close to Bilbao. Several of the FWBIM missionaries traveled to Santurce to hold Bible studies in the home of one family there. Mark and Juli Riggs (were FWB missionaries not affiliated with FWBIM) worked at this FWB work in Santurce for several years, but resigned and returned to the States in 2007-2008.
FWB works were attempted in Majadahonda (1976 - 1982) and in Móstoles (1982 - 1995), but were later disbanded. There are now eight other Evangelical works in the municipality of Móstoles, and one other Evangelical work in the municipality of Majadahonda.
In 2002, the Sierra Team (composed at that time of Jeff & Susan Turnbough, Sam & June McVay, Tim & Kristi Johnson, and Anthony & Lea Edgmon) decided to target the city of Alpedrete, which is in close proximity to Villalba. This city of over 10,000 inhabitants has no Evangelical church. Today, two FWBIM missionary families live in Alpedrete, Anthony and Lea Edgmon and Tim and Kristi Johnson. They comprise the Alpedrete Team and are planting a FWB church in that town. In December 2005, the Alpedrete church was formed.
FWBIM is investigating the development of a social outreach program as well as evangelistic outreach among large segments of untouched ethnic population groups in Spain. Matthew and Brooke Turnbough are presently working in the social outreach program and transferred to the Hanna Project in July of 2012. Mick and Rachel Donahue and Jenny Stogsdill, who are with the Hanna Project (Creative Access), are looking to arrive in southern Spain late in 2012 to begin their work there.
FWBIM missionaries in Spain have been working to develop of a national leadership-training program. Sam and June McVay are working in this program to fit the particular needs of believers in Spain. Most believers and leaders must stay in their towns and continue to work on their local jobs as well as in their local churches, yet desperately need training to continue to grow and lead local congregations and new ministry efforts.
There are many challenges in Spain today. There are many needs. There are many opportunities. Can you imagine walking around the streets of these cities, seeing all the people going about their daily lives in a modern environment, apparently not lacking the necessities of life, yet knowing there is no Christian witness even available to them? That is exactly the reality that we experience walking down the streets of Spain's cities. What does God want here? What does His heart feel? What are His plans for these people and these places? Where do we fit in to those plans as members of the body of Christ?
The Lord says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8). May God instruct us and teach us in the way we should go. May we be open to His leadership, willing and flexible to change and do what He leads us to do. We ask you to join us in this prayer and in this effort to impact Spain for the Kingdom of God.
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