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Our history

​Jesus said, "if anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 

John 7:37,38


“Rio Frio” (“Cold River”) was the original name given to this house. This is especially interesting given the fact that this area is neither cold and we have no rivers nearby. God in His providence, however, knew that the name would one day be changed to “Rio Vida” which means “River of Life”.

As a young man, Francisco (Paco) Platillero was on his way to begin studying to be a priest, yet while running errands one day in 1948, Paco met a leader of a local evangelical church at his uncle´s textile shop in Alicante. The man shared with him about the Lord Jesus and invited him to come to visit his “underground” church. (The church was “underground” at this time due to Franco´s Dictatorship). A few days later, while walking with a friend, he heard music coming from somewhere nearby and ran to investigate. It was the home church. Paco entered the room and saw a sign with Jesus´ words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me.” It was there that he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and decided to become a pastor.

    Four years later, Nona McClure, arrived in Spain as a single missionary and met Paco at a church in Barcelona where he was studying in a seminary. They were married in 1957. Paco pastored churches in the U.S.A. and served as the director of Latin American Missions for the Southern Baptist mission board in Miami, Florida before moving back to Spain.


Unknown to them, but known to the Lord, Reimar and Ada Nägelen were sent out by Torchbearers Klostermühle Bible school in 1968 to begin a work in Spain which later became “Mar Cristalino”. They served faithfully up the coast in Valencia for over 20 years conducting house parties, children´s Bible camps, holiday weeks, and many other activities. Meanwhile, in 1974, Paco and Nona and their children (Anna, Mary, Ruth, John, Joe, and Paul) moved back to Paco´s hometown, Alicante, to start a Spanish church. Paco found “Rio Frio” (a small country house built in the 1960s) quite by “accident” and knew immediately that this was the house for them. He purchased it and soon thereafter began expanding the house to provide room for church services with a dream of one day having a Bible school. The room that is currently the conference hall used to be a garage and the chapel.

    In 1990 Paco and Nona retired from the ministry officially but unofficially continued to minister to Spanish-speaking people. Paco had always enjoyed Major Ian Thomas´ preaching and the children grew up listening to his tapes for family devotions. After Paco retired, he and Nona began praying about the possibility of a Christian organization using the house. In 1992, Nona called Ravencrest in Estes Park, Colorado to ask if Torchbearers would be interested in using Rio Vida since “Mar Cristalino” was being closed due to a government land annex. Major Thomas was busy preaching around the world (of course!) but was given the message when he returned and carried it around in his wallet for over a year. After sending various people to visit the house and report on the potential, he came himself in 1994 to see it. He was then able to foresee what Rio Vida could become!


After extensive renovation work and thanks to the help of over 50 volunteers, Rio Vida opened its doors in the spring of 1998 to welcome our first official conference: a reunion of past Capernwray students, led by Sue Gilmore from Capernwray Hall. Beds, furniture, cooking equipment, and other materials from Mar Cristalino were brought and used at Rio Vida to be operational. None of us could ever have imagined how God would bring all of this about!

   Our prayer is that in all that we do here at Rio Vida, God would be glorified and that everyone who comes will leave having drunk from the only water which brings eternal life- our Lord Jesus Christ and be refreshed and renewed ready to be used of God to reach a desperately “thirsty” world.

If you are interested in knowing more about our past and our future plans please take a look at the Rio Vida Re-Energizing Project page. 

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