In 1988 after a number of years as assistant pastor on the mission field in Alcorcon; Rev Hanna became full pastor of the congregation. At present the Hanna family have served the Lord for over 28 years...
Miss Noranna McAuley was saved on 15th June, 1957 as a young girl of six. Having been born two months before the opening of the Cabra church, Noranna was a Free Presbyterian from birth. She was brought up in a godly home and went faithfully with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Billy McAuley and her brothers, Robert and Shaun to Sunday School and church from as early as she can remember. She was led to the Lord by her mother, Jean in her own home on a Lord's Day evening. Noranna had been under conviction of sin for some time.
Mr. John Hanna was saved on 1st February, 1967 at a Gospel campaign conducted by two Faith Mission Pilgrims, Mr. Colin Molyneux and Mr. David Williams. The mission was held in a portable hall erected on his parents' farm. He testifies to the great blessing he received from his first visit to Cabra Free Presbyterian Church.
"When I heard Rev. Alan Cairns preach, I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Here was a Presbyterian minister, attired as a minister, preaching with fire and power the like of which I had never seen nor heard in my life before. The constant references to the Scriptures, the depth and yet simplicity of the teaching, and all this without reading from a manuscript; it was heaven upon earth! Under God I owe a great debt to Dr. Alan Cairns. Week by week I grew in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Having completed an apprenticeship as an electrician, Mr. Hanna felt compelled to seek the Lord in order to find His will. The Lord spoke clearly from Judges Chapter 6 verse 14: "Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?"
Because of his training, he was asked to do the electrical installation in the new church building in Ballymoney. He considered this most providential. He was glad of the overtime that would enable him to save enough money to return to school full-time and get the necessary qualifications to enter the Theological Hall of the Free Presbyterian Church.
Later when he was preparing for the Theological Hall, the Lord confirmed through His word in Acts 22 verse 21 that it was missionary work and not the home ministry to which he was being directed.
An important step was taken in both their lives in August, 1974 when they were married by Rev. Alan Cairns in their home church. Mr. and Mrs. Hanna were the first missionaries to be sent to the mission field under the auspices of the Free Presbyterian Mission Board. John had completed the ministerial course at the Theological Hall while Noranna had also attended classes from September, 1974 until June, 1976. Mr. Hanna's first placement was as student minister of Castlederg Free Presbyterian Church. During his student years and time in Castlederg, he continued to help every Monday with the maintenance of the Cabra recording studios.
John and Noranna left Northern Ireland on 13th April, 1977 to go to language school at the Mangold Institute in Madrid . In the beginning there were practical difficulties with learning the Spanish tongue. On one particular occasion, while leaving the class in a heavy shower of rain, Mr. Hanna was heard to ask a young lady if she had brought her grandfather with her. Of course he had got the Spanish words for umbrella and grandfather mixed up. You can imagine the look of confusion on the young girl's face!
The language training was very intensive with classes starting at 9.00 a.m. and finishing at 2.00 p.m. From 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. Hanna attended voluntary classes dealing with culture, economics, commerce and linguistics. This ensured that they were hearing the Spanish language for seven hours each day and were prevented from speaking English, which was very important. Mr. Hanna studied for another year at Complutense University , completing a course for foreign students, which was conducted wholly in Spanish. Their first opportunities to witness were to fellow students and to the family who were their Spanish hosts. Not only had the Hanna's to learn a new language, but they also had to become accustomed to the climate and adapt to a culture totally different from that of their homeland.
Their early work involved door- to- door visitation in Vallecas, a town outside Madrid . This was an opportunity to put their language training to good use and make new contacts. They appreciated greatly the help of the local Independent Baptist pastor but it soon became evident that, because of differences in beliefs regarding tongues and charismatic gifts, they would have to find another area of service. During the second year in Spain they became associated with a Reformed Presbyterian church in Alcorcon , a town with a population of approximately 200,000 inhabitants. This became the base for their future work in Spain . Initially Mr. Hanna served as an evangelist doing outreach work as well as following up contacts made through the church's weekly radio broadcasts. When Dr. Paisley and Rev. David McIlveen, Chairman of the Mission Board, visited Spain an important decision was taken that the session of the Alcorcon church would oversee the work of the new missionaries. That probationary period lasted for three years after which Mr. and Mrs. Hanna came home to Northern Ireland accompanied by their first child Jonathan who had been born exactly one year earlier. On 28th March,1980 Mr. Hanna was ordained to the Christian ministry in his home church. When he returned to Spain it was as the first ordained Free Presbyterian missionary. At the end of that year in December, their second son, Joel was born.
In 1981, due to the Pastor's ill health, the session of Alcorcon requested that Rev. Hanna should serve as assistant pastor. This required preaching weekly in all the services, which was a great help in perfecting the Spanish language. A further development came in 1988 when the Spanish pastor resigned and Rev. Hanna became the minister of the church.
For nine years the congregation met in a ground floor flat which had been converted to facilitate the needs of God's people. The time came, however, when the congregation needed to find more suitable premises and in June, 1998 a new building was opened for the preaching of the Gospel. Dr. Paisley was in attendance that day to preach the Word. People from many parts of Spain , along with family and friends of the Hanna's from Ulster , came to support the work.
The arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Boyd in 1986 and Miss Debbie Nichols in 1989 brought further encouragements. Mr. Boyd worked in Alcorcon for three years before his move south to minister in Cortijos Nuevos. Miss Nichols remained in Alcorcon for ten years before returning to her home country of Canada . In January, 1998 Miss Joy Gillespie from Armagh Free Presbyterian Church joined the team of missionaries working in Spain .
In April, 2002 Rev. and Mrs. Hanna celebrated twenty-five years on the mission field. Later in the year a young man from Rev. Hanna's church in Alcorcon , Mr. Angel Alvarez, graduated from the Whitefield College of the Bible in Ulster after having completed two years of the theological course. Mr. Alvarez had previously studied part-time in 'El Colegio Biblico de la Gracia' ( Grace Bible College ) over a period of four years. Following his graduation from the Whitefield College he returned to the land of his birth to serve the Lord in his home congregation. As the first person from Alcorcon to train for the ministry, this was a very special event and a great encouragement to Rev. Hanna in his anniversary year.