Located 1150 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 the arrival of Roman mariners. Roman historian Pliny called the islands Canaria because large packs of wild dogs lived there.
The Spanish Empire conquered the Canary Islands in the 1490s, and today this island region remains an autonomous community of Spain. In 1927 the islands were divided into two provinces, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Because of the Canary Islands’ centuries-old association with Spain, most inhabitants identify 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, and in 1973 the Assemblies of God began to reap the fruits of many years’ labor. 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, where attendees decided the islands needed a stronger evangelism emphasis . As a result, the Assemblies of God Bible Institute of the Canary Islands was established in 1987.Trained ministers and Christian workers preach the gospel among the Canary Islands, utilizing Royal Rangers, youth camps, and Christian radio broadcasts as evangelism tools.
The Movement Today
The Assemblies of God in the Canary Islands reports the following statistics: 51 ministers, 40 churches and preaching points, 5000 members and adherents, and 1 Bible school with 2 extension programs enrolling a total of 38 students.
Additional Facts About the Canary Islands
Provincial capitals: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Area: 2893 square miles
Population: 2.1 million
Agriculture: bananas, citrus fruits, sugarcane, figs, peaches, wine grapes, grain, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes
Industry: tourism and textiles