The Power of The Word in Latin America
April 25, 2019
FORT ERIE, Ont. (INS)—A new reformation is dawning in the Spanish-speaking church. From the south in Chile to the north in Mexico, and throughout the Caribbean, the historic Christian faith is spreading now more than ever. More than 400 million people speak Spanish, so this represents a significant opportunity.
While there are significant variations from country to country, approximately 69 percent of adults in Latin America identify as Roman Catholic, reports Eliud Herrera, Intercede International’s Director of Administration for Ministry Relations. Some 84 percent of adults say they were raised Roman Catholic but more people are becoming evangelical.
God is raising up Gospel preachers in their native lands, and hundreds of people are following their example and flocking to the ministry. In cities where there were once few believers, now congregations of thousands of people are gathering every week to sit under expository, biblical preaching.
Today, 19 percent of adults in Latin America identify as Protestant, even though only nine percent of Latin Americans were raised in Protestant churches.
Social Media and the Written Word
While many still yet use the printed Bibles, the digital era is also a great tool that is being used to spread the Word of God. Pastors and evangelists use Facebook, Instagram, and many other applications to reach out to younger generations. In this digital era, most of our younger generations heavily rely on those tools to get information.
In other parts of the less developed world, audio Bibles, audio sermons and theological aids are used to present the Gospel to the illiterate ones. For example, in Peru, Churches of Ayacucho, our partner, requires all the time funds to buy solar-powered audio Bibles because the great majority of the Quechuan people that they reach cannot read nor write. In spite of their illiteracy God is moving powerfully in the hearts of the souls high up in the Peruvian Andes.
Radio and Television
In more developed countries such as El Salvador and Costa Rica, many ministries nowadays own radio and television stations. Those channels broadcast 24/7 the Gospel. It is amazing that for example in El Salvador, a country ravaged by war from 1980 to 1992, and now suffering from the claws of criminal gangs, souls are coming to the Lord by the thousands every year. At some point the population of the country was 99 percent Catholic, but now the Protestant movement has reached almost 44 percent and continues increasing. People realize that they need a relationship that brings inexplicable peace in spite of dangerous conditions. It always has been the case, when persecution, tribulation, and ordeals abound, people become more sensitive to a divine connection, and the Word fills that gap in the human soul.
Many ministries are targeting the children and youth of the nations. New Life Ministries, our partner in El Salvador, reaches out to that segment through their afterschool program. They provide children and youth with meals, scholarships, and help with homework–and of course the teaching of the Word of God, that will prepare, and keep them away from the claws of the “missionaries” that the gangs send to prey on the youngsters.
Many ministries also are reaching out to the imprisoned. In El Salvador and other countries many ministries have planted churches right in the nations’ more dangerous penitentiaries.
“By God’s grace I had the opportunity of visiting with my wife, and preaching in a Jail /Church in Honduras,” reports Herrera. “We were amazed at the freedom that the brethren had. Yes they were physically imprisoned, but their spirits were free, as the eagles. The Word of God had changed criminals and thieves into followers of Jesus Christ. It was an amazing experience to see that.
“In Colombia, Intercede partner Vineyard of Colombia holds every six months a national convention, where they teach seminars for all segments of the Church, from children to pastors and missionaries. The times that I have attended those congresses, I could see the hunger of the souls to learn more from the Word of God.”
In recent years that ministry signed up an Agreement with a prestigious theological university in California that allow the students to study online, and take exams while the representative from the University visits Colombia. As many of 50 students have graduated from it, and are sharing with others the knowledge they obtained.
Also in this ministry the Word has transformed former assassins, guerrillas, para-military men and para-military women into servants of the Most High that proclaim in the valleys and jungles the power of forgiving, and the deliverance of Jesus.
Certainly, the Word of God itself is power, and it does not matter the form in which it is presented. Someone said the only Bible that some will see is you and me. We are epistles read by all men, as Paul stated, so we need to daily cultivate that relationship with the Lord, so our lives will reflect His light, and so many will come to know mercy and grace, as we once did.
Photo: A Churches of Ayacucho missionary (left) gives Bibles to grateful Peruvian women who live in the Andes Mountains of Peru.