The entire center of gravity of missions sending is slowly, but surely shifting from the “Global North” to the “Global South.” Increasingly, churches in Africa, Latin America, and Asia will lead the way in sending missionaries to unreached areas. As the director of a missions organization and a pastor of a church in Panama, this is an exciting time for Latinos to engage in cross-cultural missions. A missionary serving in Peru aptly described this shift, “What used to only be a mission field is now a missionary force, and candidates and churches throughout Latin America are embracing their mission callings.”
Throughout Latin America, young men and women are catching a vision for God’s heart for the nations and are giving their lives to the Lord through cross-cultural missions. They are becoming more aware of opportunities to get connected with what God is doing globally and are eagerly accepting his call.
The Role of Short-Term Trips in Missionary Sending
The first step to missionary sending is often short-term trips. Nashma Ferrara, a recent graduate of the University of Panama and a contributor to Radical recently served in France for 6 weeks. In her words: “This experience challenged me to consider what my life was all about. The experience and the people that I met led me to consider why can’t I be bold to share the gospel wherever I am.”
This highlights how short-term experiences can take a person out of their comfort zone and cause them to be open to a life serving on the mission field while challenging them to be more missional wherever they are, even at home.
All of this may sound obvious to many of us in the Church in the United States and elsewhere. However, many local congregations in Latin America do not have the cultural context or experience creating a support base within the church to send out missionaries, even on a short-term basis.
The Latino church needs to embrace its responsibility to become involved in the new wave of missionary sendings.
This is why the Latino church needs to embrace its responsibility to become involved in the new wave of missionary sendings. Chris Conti, a missionary in Perú who’s helping mobilize the Church in South America, explains it like this: Churches need to have a clear understanding of world missions and their plan in it. Mobilization is advanced discipleship, helping each Christian take up his or her role in God’s mission.
Mobilizing Students for Missions
Isaac Ensenatt, a student from our own organization, came to Christ as a university student in our student ministry, became a leader on campus, and then entered into full-time service for Cru in Panama as the leader of our outreach to athletes. Now Isaac is preparing to serve as a cross-cultural missionary in Southeast Asia for two years. His trajectory is a great example of how we can work toward fostering the desire in Latino students to be involved in the great task the Lord has called us to from the beginning of their connection with our ministry on campus.
In a recent interview, Isaac shared how relationships have been vital to receiving and fulfilling this call to missions. His short-term experiences provided needed exposure vital for launching the process necessary to move him toward the cross-cultural field.
Partnering with Parachurch Ministries and Churches
These relationships can and should happen through short-term trips as well as in long-term involvement with a local church and parachurch outreach programs. Even though God can use campus ministries in a mighty way, we must remember to communicate the importance of the local church to the students in our ministries. The church in Latin America and parachurch organizations can work together to create opportunities for these students to be exposed to global realities and be involved with missions and outreach-oriented activities.
The Latin American church and parachurch organizations can work together to create opportunities for students to be exposed to global realities and be involved with missions and outreach-oriented activities.
The Latin American church and parachurch organizations can work together to create opportunities for students to be exposed to global realities and be involved with missions and outreach-oriented activities. It is an exciting time to be serving in missions in Latin America. Let’s join together in prayer that the Lord of the harvest will raise up young Latino students who will embrace the call to serve our great Savior on the mission field.