God Raising Up Latino Hands for His Glory
Planting Broadly for a More Plentiful Harvest:
God Raising Up Latino Hands for His Glory
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9
What are we expecting to get when we plant a seed? The answer is the fruit, but how easy it is to overlook what happens in the process! All the fruit we receive is a demonstration of God’s power since it is His hand that intervenes from the creation of the seed, its planting and germination to the harvest.
The Evangelical missionaries who came from many different countries, especially English speaking ones, to Latin America were used by God so that there would be fruit.
For more than 45 years, Avance, a UWM initiative, has built connections between young adults, churches and ministries through their immersion program in Mexico. In this way, Avance contributed to the mobilization of young people in the United States and Canada, while at the same time, helping the seeds that had been planted by several generations in Mexico begin to germinate.
Sadly, many Mexican believers have received eternal salvation without understanding that the reason for being a Christian is to be a blessing to others so that they may know God. However, in recent decades, following others’ examples, some have understood that the Great Commission is a commandment for everyone. As a result, it is becoming more and more common to meet entire families or singles who desire to train, support, and experience short-term missions or to go out as long-term missionaries.
From 2005-2010, we served in Spain with a Latino missions organization with more than 150 adults dedicated to proclaiming the gospel among Muslims. This experience that God gave us confirmed to us that He is raising up new missionary forces in diverse regions, including those willing to go to the far corners of the world where others can’t or won’t go.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of vision in Latino churches, the scarcity of economic resources and poor preparation, many Latino missionaries do not have successful experiences but rather return unexpectedly. They lack holistic care and sometimes even leave the church. Seeing this window of opportunity and with a burden to help change this reality, since 2011 we have been mobilizing Mexican churches, leaders and pastors to missions; accompanying people who have received a calling from God to serve outside of the country (or among ethnic groups of Mexicans); and mentoring Mexicans who are already serving on the field.
We work hard to raise awareness: emphasizing the biblical focus on reaching the world; reeducating about the role and responsibility of the church as a sending agent; and clarifying that we shouldn’t move simply because of a need but rather more strategically, considering the level of accessibility to the Good News and in turn breaking down all feelings of incompetency or external dependency.
God is very good, because in spite of weaknesses, He uses us. Yesterday, a young man, who at the age of 12 saw us leave to serve among Muslims, told us how since then God touched his heart. Now as a young architectural student, he has a desire to serve in missions. We’ve also accompanied a young man from a town in the mountains of Chiapas who is in the process of making his way to Indonesia to serve among Muslims. Just last week we interviewed another family and two singles with similar hearts for the people of Indonesia.
But is it really realistic for Mexicans and other Latinos to go to other parts of the world to preach the Good News? We believe so, because for God everything is possible, and every day there are more people with this calling. In this case, how can Latinos support missionary work? The same as any other believer in the hands of God, because this doesn’t depend on human structures, but rather on the vision and power that the Holy Spirit gives to those who desire to obey. Furthermore, throughout the centuries, God has designed the Latino race with an infinite number of characteristics that helps them fit into strategic places with limited access, such as Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu contexts, or even in areas of North America and Europe where there is a high presence of these groups.
Some of these characteristics are:
- Coming from third world (economically developing) countries that were colonized
- Originating in countries that don’t have a conflicting, economic/political agenda with the countries where they are going
- Having a mixture of Asian, European, and African features that provides them with significant physical similarities with the people of those countries
- Having experienced, themselves, the implications of living in a country with high levels of economic inequality, which helps them be empathetic towards people and relate with greater ease
- Having non-North American concept and management of time
- Belonging to a relational cultural with strong family bonds
Because of all the above, we believe in the importance of continuing to channel all of our efforts and resources to help, accompany, and encourage Latino churches so that they continue planting the Seed around the world.
For many centuries Mexico has been a mission field, and there are still regions with little evangelical presence, so the door remains open to initiate outreach projects in strategic locations, such as the Southern zone and among ethnicities in Oaxaca. Nevertheless, it’s time for Latinos to understand that the labor remaining for the harvest will be completed faster and in a more effective way if we realize how strategic and biblical it is to work united in interdependence.