A Vision for Reaching Hispanics in the United States

As we observe the phenomenon of Latin America immigrating to the United States, we are reminded of the opportunity God is giving us to reach other nations right here in our country.  In the following paragraphs I would like to cast a vision for the beginning of a movement to reach Hispanics in the United States. 

 

The Need for Both a Vision and a Task
 
“A vision without a task makes a visionary.  A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision with a task makes a missionary.”  
 
I love the wisdom in this quote, “A vision with a task makes a missionary.”  Many dream about what the future should look like without a specific plan. Almost every church either would like to begin a Spanish ministry or has had one in the past that is no longer active. Others have plenty of tasks but do not know or see how it fits into a bigger picture. Successful missionaries throughout history, however, have had the ability to both see the finished product and know what tasks to accomplish to see the result.

 

Let’s apply these truths to Spanish ministries found in the United States. There are several churches who dream of one day having a thriving Spanish ministry. They long to be reaching and assimilating the Hispanics who are swarming their communities.  Sadly, most of these churches are left with the dream without the knowledge or willingness to do the tedious tasks that will lead to having such a ministry.  Other churches are faithfully ministering to a few Latinos without a vision to know where to lead the ministry or how to see it grow.  After a while, they become discouraged and the thought of continuing a Spanish ministry becomes a drudgery. These two scenarios are where most churches find themselves.  It seems as though most every church either would like to begin a Spanish ministry or has had one in the past that is no longer active.  Very few current Spanish ministries are actually thriving because of a lack of either a vision or specific tasks.
 
I believe that with both a vision and a task it is possible to watch God begin a movement of reaching Hispanics in the United States.  I can imagine hundreds of Spanish churches who are both melted into the American culture yet thriving in reaching Latinos in their own language.  Imagine Spanish Bible colleges born that will train hundreds of men for the ministry.  I believe that there will be a birth of a Hispanic mission agency that will be sending out dozens of church planters to the United States and to all of Latin America.  Indeed, there can be a day when the norm has changed.  Rather than a great shortage of laborers there can be an abundance.  Imagine when an American church desiring to start a Spanish ministry would not be struggling to find a laborer but instead will have an abundance of personnel, ministry tools, and support.
 
Now, before I begin to sound like a visionary, I would like to share the tasks that I believe are necessary to see this vision become a reality.  Yet, before I do let me share with you why I believe this vision can actually become a reality.  The vision that God desires to begin a movement of reaching Hispanics is deeply rooted on simple, yet profound, scriptural principles.
 
The Scriptural Basis for Such a Vision
 
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” – Hebrews 11:8
 
The best definition of faith is simply this, “Believing that God will do what He said He will do.”  The basis for the vision of reaching Hispanics is not just a whim or a dream; it is deeply rooted on truths found in God’s Word.  Below, I would like to highlight these truths just as God reiterates them to me often in my daily Bible reading.
 
The Gospel is Powerful – I Corinthians 1:21 says, “… it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  This passage reminds us that it is simply the preaching of the gospel that will save people. I love Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”  There is nothing we can do to reach hearts or see anyone come to know Christ.  It is simply God working through the powerful gospel that does.  How exciting to be reminded that as long as we clearly share the plain gospel, God will then take it and save souls!  This is happening in a grand way in Latin American countries and it can happen wide-scale right here in the U.S.
 
Christ is Building His Church – When the gospel is shared and souls are saved, the natural ramification is that churches are born.  This certainly was the case on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two and it will be the case with Latinos in the U.S.  Christ said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  This was a promise by Christ, it was a prediction of what was to come, and it should also be a principle we live by.  I believe that Christ is building His church.  I observe this amongst the 30 plus Anglo church plants here at Baptist Church Planters and I believe that Christ desires it to take place amongst Latinos as well.
 
God Will Send out Laborers – God answers prayer – a basic truth, I know, but so profound.  There are many passages on prayer in Scripture that lead us to the conclusion that God answers prayer; however, I would like to share with you a command in Scripture about what to pray for that God always answers when it is fervently requsted.  This prayer is found in Matthew 9:38, “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  I believe that because of the prayer of many, God will provide the laborers to share the powerful gospel and to plant the churches that Christ desires to build.  It is simply a matter of faith based on the promises of God’s Word.
 
There are evidences everywhere of how God is doing these things around the Latin American world.  For some reason, Hispanics is a people group where God indeed is saving souls, building churches, and sending out laborers.  If this is happening around the world, this tells me that we can trust God to do the same right here in our own country. It is time for churches to  begin to experience missions up-close and personal.
 
Okay, we have dreamed about what God can do, we have looked at the theological basis of why God would do this, now all that is left is to share with you the tasks that will make such a vision a reality.
 
The Tasks at Hand
 
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs His steps.” – Proverbs16:9
 
Proverbs 16:9 is such a refreshing passage that brings in itself a balance to any plan.  It reminds us that no matter how well a plan is drawn up and implemented it is ultimately God that makes things happen.  As I share with you a plan to begin a movement of reaching Hispanics, please know that it comes with the realization that God can flex and change these plans at any moment.  Having said this, here are the tasks:
 
Provide inexpensive and convenient theological training in Spanish – In most every current Spanish church in the U.S., there are men who feel called to the ministry.  The problem is that most cannot afford to pick up and attend an existing Bible college.  Many do not understand English even if they could afford it.  There is a great need to competently train men with fundamental and baptistic theological training.  This training must be accessible and affordable.  We praise God for the start of the El Ministerio Bible Institute which is doing just that by providing such training on DVD.
 
Encourage every thriving Anglo church to evangelize and disciple their entire community – no matter the culture.  Most churches are not prepared to reach other ethnic groups because they are not reaching nor making disciples of their own Anglo community.  For those who are making disciples of their own, however, it is necessary to take the next step which is to reach out to other cultures. The greatest hindrance to this happening is strangely not the language barrier or a cultural ignorance. The main hindrance is the shear uneasiness of Anglos to reach out to a culture different than their own.  Churches must stop waiting for a bi-lingual person to connect to their church in order to reach out to other ethnic groups.  They must begin to go outside of their four walls and find ways to connect to other cultures on their own.  It is time for churches to  begin to experience missions up-close and personal.  There is help for churches desiring to do so. Reaching Hispanics magazine is designed to hold their hand (figuratively speaking) and to help them sort through cultural differences and ministry philosophies so that they will be comfortable in reaching Latinos. 
 
Partner together with the purpose of seeing Spanish churches become successful – I estimate that amongst the fundamental mission agencies which are in our circles there are probably around 20 Spanish churches here in the United States.  Imagine if our mission agencies, churches, and state associations would strategically partner together to see these churches strengthened and multiplied!  Imagine churches burdened for Spanish ministries financially supporting an existing Spanish church for the exchange of eventually receiving one of its disciples.  Already some partnership is beginning.  For example, BCP has partnered with EBI, BMM, and GLS in order to see the birth of the El Ministerio Bible Institute.  When we strategically begin to work together to do specific tasks on purpose, we can watch God do amazing things.
 
If the Lord tarries, there is no doubt in my mind that we will watch God begin this movement of reaching this relatively untouched sub-culture and see hundreds of Hispanic churches established.  This will happen when we have faith in the promises of His Word which allows us to see the vision of  what God could accomplish.  Then, comes obedience to begin the tasks necessary to reach, disciple, and multiply this needy mission field.
 
 
by David Whitcher (Missionary with Baptist Church Planters)

 

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