Why are Latin Americans Moving to Spain as Missionaries? - Radical

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Why are Latin Americans Moving to Spain as Missionaries?

In 1521, Hernán Cortés and a band of Spanish soldiers conquered Mexico. As part of the colonization of Mexico, Spanish authorities sent Catholic missionaries—introducing what remains the predominant religion in Mexico today.

Almost 500 years later, Alex Torres was influenced by the religion brought from Spain, as he grew up in a traditional, Catholic family in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. When he was a teenager, a missionary shared the gospel with him.

Turning from Catholicism to Protestantism, Alex’s life began to be transformed as he placed his faith in Christ. He grew as a disciple and started recognizing gospel needs around the world. 

In 2014, Alex met missionaries who spoke with him about countries that desperately need to hear the good news of Christ. Little by little, through prayer, pastors, seminary professors, and ministries confirming his calling, Alex decided to share the greatest hope in a place with a great gospel need: Málaga, Spain.

Alex is a small part of a great reversal: Centuries ago, Spanish, Catholic missionaries went to Latin America. Today, Latin American, Protestant missionaries are heading to Spain. 

This reversal of a mission field to a missionary force flows from a rapidly growing Protestant population in Latin America, and from a generation of Latin American believers eager to spread the good news to the places that need it most. 

Spain Isn’t As Reached As You Think

From the Inquisition to Francisco Franco establishing Catholicism as the national religion, Catholicism has been synonymous with Spain for hundreds of years. But while Catholicism may be known as Spain’s predominant religion, the majority of Spaniards are only nominally Catholic. 

In Spain, Catholicism is often tied to tradition more than true faith. Meanwhile, secularism is on the rise. For most Spaniards, attending church—or even believing in God—is no longer the norm.

In fact, many Spanish towns don’t have a single evangelical church. Even though Christianity has been present in Spain for nearly two millennia and the country’s borders are open, the gospel is a little known truth today.

The Nations are Reaching Spain

Though the Protestant population in Spain is only 2 percent, it’s also growing. Some of that growth comes from immigration. Out of Spain’s population of 47.5 million people, over 3 million are Latin American immigrants.

The Lord is using the people of Latin America so that many churches will be revived and filled with the hope of sharing the gospel of Christ.

In Málaga, Alex’s church is a snapshot of Spain’s current population. Many of the older members are Spaniards, while new, younger members mostly come from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Venezuela. It is a beautiful picture of God bringing the nations and generations together in his Church.

“Now, more than ever, the Lord is using the people of Latin America, so that many churches will be revived and filled with the hope of sharing the glorious gospel of Christ,” Alex said. “Many brethren from our countries are coming with great hunger to the churches and seeking to learn of sound doctrine. The same thing that has happened in the past years in Latin America America is now happening in Spain.”

The Harvest is Plentiful

Many believers are coming to Spain with a bigger goal than simply reaching Spaniards with the gospel—the hope is that those seeds will lead to fruit in other nations as well. Not only are Latin Americans immigrating to Spain, but to other nations, including Morocco and Pakistan where Islam is prevalent. To reach Spain also means reaching other nations.

“I believe the hope of Spain is that Christ has many people and continues to work powerfully with his gospel,” Alex said. “The Lord of the Protestant Reformation in the time of Luther and Calvin, in the time of Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon, remains the same Lord that with the power of his gospel controls the times and in his providence can bring great times in Spain and Europe.”

Only God can transform a country with no gospel presence into a place that, hundreds of years later, sends missionaries to the nations. As Alex said, “Only God knows how it will impact the ministry of this new generation.” He prays that “many missionaries and many churches will want to commit themselves to the expansion of God’s glory in the Great Commission in Spain.”

As the global church, we can pray for the gospel to be heard and believed in Spain. Pray for laborers—whether from Latin America or another area of the world—to faithfully go to Spain and for laborers from Spain to be sent out to the nations. 

In a country where darkness seems to cover the truth of the gospel, we can hold onto hope as we know “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

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!