A Mission Field to a Mission Force: The Story of a Latin American Missionary in India - Radical

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A Mission Field to a Mission Force: The Story of a Latin American Missionary in India

In 1496, Spain set up a colony in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Almost 400 years later on the other side of the globe, the British took control of India. While the colonial powers, historical contexts, and timelines differ, both countries have painful roots buried in colonialism. European rule led to the oppression of natives and to conflict in these countries.

When these countries gained independence from colonial rule, observers believed Dominicans and Indians would reject Christianity since it was the religion of their oppressors. But in God’s sovereignty and grace, many held firm to the faith.

While one country still has a minority Christian population today, the other is transitioning from a mission field to a mission force. Dominican churches are now equipping and sending missionaries to the nations. One of these Dominican missionaries has gone to the very country with a similar history to his own: India.

A Missions Perspective Shift

Born into a Christian family in the Dominican Republic, Isaac Méndez1 came to Christ when he was 14-years-old. When he was 18, he read 1 Peter 2:9 calling believers to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” He began to grasp God’s command to spread the gospel. So, he began to share Christ in his community. 

When short-term mission groups visited, he served as a translator, stirring his passion for missions. In his quest to learn more, he ran into books like Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper. Isaac’s perspective deepened from reaching his neighbors with the gospel to also reaching the nations with the good news. He spent two summers in the Colombian jungles and then traveled to India on short-term mission trips.

“During my first trip to India, it became clear to me that the Lord was confirming this was the place where He wanted me to serve full-time,” Isaac said.

The way God orchestrated his journey served as a confirmation. Over the next two years, Issac made annual trips to India to explore where he should serve. The trips helped him become better acquainted with the culture, language, and local church. Issac also served in various ministries in his own church in Santo Domingo. He studied at seminary to prepare himself theologically, and took leadership training offered by his church.

A Persecuted Church

Despite his preparation, his local church’s support, and the advantage of physically fitting in with locals, his journey has not been an easy road. From learning Hindi to opening a local bank account, the everyday reality of living in India is a reminder of the difficulties of the mission.

From learning Hindi to opening a local bank account, the everyday reality of living in India is a reminder of the difficulties of the mission.

Even harder: state-sponsored persecution. In 12 of the 28 states of India, the government has enacted anti-conversion laws that make it difficult for Christains to share the gospel or for Hindus to convert to Christianity. The laws also inhibit churches from owning property or obtaining legal documentation. Issac and his wife are in the northern state Uttar Pradesh. The state enforces anti-conversion laws in this state with an estimated Christian population of 2% to 3%.

Those who convert to Christianity often experience contempt, isolation, and reprimand from their communities and even family members. Being Hindu is often synonymous with being Indian.

A Persistent Church

Anti-conversion laws make baptisms difficult because they are a public testimony of changing religions. Yet Issac’s church recently baptized 10 believers.

“The church here is faithful, persecuted, and hungry,” Issac said. “Perhaps, contrary to what we might believe, there are faithful churches here that have been faithfully preaching the gospel. You can find faithful men and women who are serving Christ and living lives that glorify him.”

God continues to save people in miraculous ways, like bringing a Latin American and an African together in India.

He is also encouraged to see young people preparing for ministry and pastors seeking to better equip themselves theologically. He had the opportunity to participate in an Indian conference for pastors and seminary students where about 600 people attended.

At that conference, he met an Ethiopian man studying in India. For some reason, he ended up at the conference despite not being a Christian. Issac shared the gospel with him and answered his questions, which led to this man turning to Christ. God continues to save people in miraculous ways, like bringing a Latin American and an African together in India.

God Equips the Called

Issac gives thanks to God for those back home with the desire to fulfill the Great Commission. Whether you come from a country that sends thousands of missionaries every year or just a handful, all disciples of Christ are to be faithful to Christ’s command. God will equip the called.

As you explore your own calling and prepare to serve wherever God leads you, Issac offers the following advice:

  • Get involved and serve in your local church in your home country. Put your gifts, passion for God, and love for the lost into action. People don’t change when they get on a plane. If you don’t do it at home, you won’t do it in another country.
  • If possible, make at least one short-term trip to where you plan to serve. Familiarize yourself with the location, make contact with missionaries, and connect with local churches.
  • Prepare yourself theologically, culturally, and learn the local language.

In God’s grace and power, the Dominican Republic went from having no Christians to sending missionaries across the globe in just a few hundred years. In his efforts to multiply disciples and plant churches in India, Issac holds fast to the promise that God is at work, even in a country where the persecution can seem stronger than the Church (Matthew 16:18).


1. Name has been changed for safety reasons.  ↵

Selah Vetter is a Content Writer at Radical. She is a graduate of Samford University where she studied Journalism and Spanish. She is a member of Redeemer Community Church.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!