While Latin American countries have been the destination of many mission ventures over the years, the tide has turned, and South America is no longer considered an unreached mission field. Now, many Latin Americans are leaving the comforts of their home and following God to live in countries with very few believers.
Pablo*, from Paraguay, is one such Latino. He answered the call to join missions and is now serving with OM in a South Asian country since September 2017. He believes that Latinos have a unique ability to adapt and integrate into many different cultures, which can make them prime candidates for some mission fields.
“Latin Americans have so many physical characteristics that are similar to those of South Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans and Europeans. This makes it easier to blend into some cultures,” said Pablo. “We are also very friendly and relational, rather than task-oriented. This helps us to better understand and communicate with people from other warm cultures.”
OM worker Richard*, from Brazil, echoed the same sentiments. After serving on a short-term team, first in Paraguay and then Germany, Richard realised he could not just go back to life as usual. After he tasted what’s it’s like to join God in cross-cultural missions and make a difference in the lives of others, he wanted more and decided to join OM in a South Asian country.
“From the moment I arrived here, it felt like home,” noted Richard. Although his new home was different from his native home, it did not take long for Richard to adapt to his surroundings and make connections with people who are, in many ways, just like him.
Regardless of the fact that Latin Americans have some advantages when it comes to serving cross culturally, there are still obstacles that make going difficult. One of the biggest obstacles comes from many Latino cultures being very family oriented.
It’s often difficult for them to leave their families for extended periods of time, said Pablo. He explained that knowledge of the goodness and sovereignty of God is what gave him the courage to leave his friends and family to share the gospel among the unreached
“His mercies are new every morning, and I’ve seen it here,” Pablo cheerfully recounted. “If you feel a pull towards missions, don’t let ungodly thoughts like, ‘I don’t have the money’ or I won’t be able to integrate,’ hold you back. Give them over to God, and He will provide what you need.” Pablo’s encouragement to other Latinos is not to be anxious or fearful because God will give us everything we need.
Sometimes God calls people across the street, and sometimes He calls them across the globe, to share that the Kingdom of God is near. The men share that the real challenge isn’t the call, but saying ‘yes’ each day to that call and demonstrating it with action.
While their South American homes may have been safe and comfortable, Richard and Pablo knew that true fulfilment comes only when they do what they have been created to do.
Pray for Richard and Pablo, that the Holy Spirit will continue to strengthen them to remain faithful to the mission and fully enjoy the journey. Pray also that more Latin Americans will answer the call to serve among unreached people groups.
* Name changed