We too were taken back when I first heard this. There are many reasons that contribute to this fact, but one in particular stands out. It begins in 1936 when Francisco Franco set himself up as Spain’s dictator. Franco’s regime was in many ways much like Mussolini’s fascism. Franco even embraced some of Hitler’s ideals.
During his dictatorship, however, he “developed a sense that Divine Providence had chosen him to save Spain from atheism and anarchy” (The History of Spain, 155). Many would add that he also had a desire to preserve a Spanish Catholic country. Because of this, the doors were bolted shut for missionaries to enter and share the joy of the Gospel. Spain then became nearly inaccessible to evangelical missionaries.
When Francisco Franco passed away on November 20th, 1975 the doors to Spain began to creak open again. The current Spanish democracy is almost 40 years old. The Religious Liberty Law was just signed in 1985 and “evangelical growth followed this freedom” (Operation World 2010: Spain). Today Spain is open to the Gospel. We are so excited to be part of the growth by sharing Jesus Christ, planting churches, and training leaders in the Least-Evangelized Spanish-Speaking Country.