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Nieves Roa and Susan Turnbough


A member of the Villalba Free Will Baptist Church looks back on her experience at the church...

A 22-Year Journey

by Nieves Roa (above, right)


I started my personal spiritual journey as many others have. Our paths cross with someone, and there is a spark of love. I arrived at the (Free Will Baptist) church of Villalba on a Sunday in 1989. My friend Rosi took me. The love I received from members of the church was unbelievable, with so much joy reflected in their faces. They welcomed and received our children, my husband, and me. Though years have passed since then and will continue to pass, I know that—even though the faces of the Lord's family change—His love will always be faithful.


The Journey Begins

After the first few years we were in the church, it was time for the church to grow, to expand. We needed to grow to show people in Villalba and the region around us why we are here—not in a way that would make us seem spectacular or pretentious, but we wanted something big.

In Spain, religions recognized by the government (Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, and Jews) have a legal right to request and receive land from the government to construct a building for their meetings. We did this and waited for years, but after following legal procedures and submitting the necessary documents to local government, we were not granted that right. We decided to buy land after asking if we would be allowed to erect a building the size and type we wanted. So, putting the matter in the Lord’s hands through much prayer, the church bought land.


Official Detour

Everything was planned; we had blueprints and were ready to go! Following the instructions of the city architect, we began construction. Then the local police stopped the construction. Jeff Turnbough visited city officials many times. People in the church did the same. Jeff and I personally interviewed the mayor on several occasions. Meetings with secretaries. Meetings with architects. Everything stopped. We were denied the municipal license. The city architect, who had given permission to begin construction, was thrown out of the city council.


22-Year Journey

We made the decision to go to court concerning the many inconsistencies on the part of local officials. After weighing the cost, in spite of all it meant for us to go to trial and the years it would take before they would decide whether to give us the license, we proceeded. We tried to move forward through many disappointments, so many questions and doubts.

Some people stayed faithful; others wondered if it was the will of God for us to ever have a building on that lot. Many special times of prayer occurred. Finally, after nearly 15 years, we received a verdict. The court ruled we were right; we could build. We did not seek financial indemnification for the damage the delay caused us, yet construction costs and materials more than doubled in the time that transpired. But, the Lord's response had arrived, and we would carry out His work.


Back on the Road

A bank—and four souls whom I love for their courage and for placing their own mortgages, homes, lives, and salaries on the line for the next 20 years to sign for the bank loan—gave us the funds to start building. It is only with real faith in the Lord's promises that people do these kinds of things for His work regardless of the money, opposing governments, or opposition from anything or anyone. We know the Lord always provides, in His way.



For 22 years, through the construction, we watched more people come to Christ. We received offerings for the building construction from people who live thousands of miles away, people we do not know. Women’s auxiliary groups and many others gave money to help us. I don’t think we can ever give back to them what they gave to us. Missionaries left loved ones to change cultures, learn a new language, and share the gospel. So many things I’ve seen.


Villalba Free Will Baptist Church

On behalf of those of us who reach beyond the parameters of this church into the mountains outside the city of Madrid, I—one person from this story—will testify this to you: If you are wondering whether or not you should, or if you can, build something for the Lord, do not doubt, do not hesitate, and do not be dismayed. He will be with you. He will do a great work. He will work through the obstacles. He will give you encouragement to keep going.

Together, we brothers in Christ the world over will accompany you through our prayers. And, if possible, we will help, working together for Him.

A big kiss (Spanish greeting),

Nieves Roa


About the Writer: Nieves has been a member of the Villalba FWB Church since 1990.  Nieves, along with her husband and two other couples, came to Christ in a home Bible study led by Jeff and Susan Turnbough in their home in Villalba. The couple was discipled and baptized in the Villalba FWB Church. Nieves played a key role in helping with negotiations with city officials. Her sister-in-law was the church’s attorney throughout the 13-year trial.

We received the following note from Nieves after she wrote this article: It is always good to remember. With the perspective of many years, it all seems like it was easier. Thank you for always being there, for being our friends and companions in this journey called life.

Jeff Turnbough translated Nieves comments from Spanish. To learn more about the work in Spain visit Jeff and Susan have tilled the hard soil in Spain since 1981.


©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists