Can you imagine spending long, exhausting days plowing and preparing a vast field? Can you imagine then carefully planting your crops and waiting for weeks to see that crop begin to sprout and grow ever so steadily? See yourself pulling weeds, keeping away the birds and small animals that would love to feast on the tender new shoots. As the heated summer days give way to the cool fall, you know harvest time is nearing. Imagine the time comes to start harvesting the fruit of all the labor, toil, and patience. As you begin to fill the first baskets and rejoice in the bountiful, plentiful crop, you suddenly turn your back on the ready harvest and walk away to look for another unkept, unworked field. The remaining harvest sits untouched on the vine while you and others deliberate about the next ‘more exotic’ challenge in some adjacent field.
This is what our missions movement has done in large part in Latin America. In the early 20th century, missionaries boldly planted the first gospel preaching churches in Latin America. They faced persecution and often imprisonment. Over the following decades more and more attention was given to this area of the world. In the 70s and 80s many missionaries began to see hundreds and even thousands come to Christ. In the 90s the momentum continued. But things have radically changed in the last decade. Now, most have lost interest in Latin America. When it came to crunch time in the harvest, at the peak of evangelism and church planting, most missionaries walked away.
As a young missionary serving in Chile, we have seen people saved essentially every week for six years and multiple men called to full time ministry. There is no doubt that if more workers would concentrate their church planting efforts in Latin America we could see thousands, if not hundreds of thousands come to Christ in our lifetime. We are in the early stages of a total religious revolution in Latin America. Now is the time to up our efforts not to retreat and abandon.
In the next post, we’ll see why this shift has happened and what have been some of the consequences to this shift.