“Reaching our Neighbors Next Door”— Bridging the Cultural Divide 

If you would have asked us several years ago about reaching into the Hispanic community around us, we would have probably answered, “That will never happen.”  We would have reasoned, “We don’t personally know any Hispanics. We don’t understand their culture. We don’t know any Spanish and we are not sure we could or would want to learn Spanish.”

Well, God works in amazing ways! As a result of a mission trip to Mexico in 2007, our hearts became burdened to “Reach Hispanics: Our Neighbors” right here in in the U.S. Now, ten years later as we serve in Hispanic Ministries with Baptist Church Planters, we are seeking to do just that.

Do you realize that we presently have over 55 million Hispanics here in the United States? In fact, we are the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Only Mexico has more Hispanics than the U.S. There’s no question that the mission field has come to America.

Many believers have a desire to reach out to these people but are not sure exactly how to do this. May we ask a few questions as you consider reaching this culture within our culture?

  1. Are you reaching people in your own culture and language?

If reaching people in your own culture and language is difficult then reaching those of another culture will be even harder. Crossing cultural barriers adds a whole new dimension to seeking lost souls. Once we develop the habit of sharing the gospel with people that are like us, we can build on this experience, taking it to the next level of reaching those who are from a different background.

  1. Are you seeing people from a spiritual perspective?

As you look around and see all the people that God is bringing to our country, your natural tendency may be to look at them through the eyes of the news media, political stance or social status. But as believers, we should ask God to help us to see everyone from a spiritual perspective, to see Hispanics (or any race) through the eyes of Scripture. Their race, their economic level, their social status, their political situation, all take a back seat to the need of their eternal soul. Please consider these Scriptures: Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Deut. 10:19; Leviticus 19:33-34; Ephesians 2:11-13, 18-19.

  1. Are you loving people through relationship-building?

Most people, but especially Hispanics, respond to people more than plans, and to relationship more than programs. If we want to reach this Hispanic culture for Christ, we must invest in building relationships with them. They will respond very well to an Anglo that shows genuine interest in them, especially since many of them are far from home and their extended family. In fact, people will know if you love them, regardless of the language you speak. We believe this is the best way to reach people in our own culture, but in crossing cultural barriers, it is absolutely essential.

So, if your “neighbors” are Hispanic, let us offer the following suggestions as you seek to reach them for Christ.

1) Survey your community and determine the Hispanic population. Remember that all Hispanics are not from Mexico. In fact, there are actually 23 Hispanic categories.

2) Ask questions to learn about their culture, foods, religious background, etc. Remember they are probably just as hesitant to speak to you as you are to speak to them. A smile and a few kind words can make great progress toward a relationship.

3) Take your neighbors a plate of cookies with a Spanish tract. If you deliver the cookies on a non-disposable plate they will most likely return it with a gift of their own.

4) Distribute Spanish tracts, literature and CDs. www.nchothinktank.com

5) Encourage teens to take Spanish in school. Challenge them to memorize and share their testimony in Spanish.

6) Teach an ESL (English Second Language) class (with childcare, snacks and a low cost.) You do not have to know Spanish to teach this. www.reachinghispanics.org

7) Pray specifically for a bilingual couple to be saved and discipled in your church. They could be the beginning of a flourishing Spanish ministry.

8) Begin a Spanish adult Sunday school class with a bilingual teen or adult translating as needed. Hispanic children usually know English and will attend your regular classes.

9) Use technology to connect. Latinos are among the most likely to own a smartphone, to live in a household without a landline phone where only a cellphone is available and to access the internet from a mobile device. Make sure you “advertise” your ministry efforts via social media, various apps, videos, etc. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2016/07/20/digital-divide-narrows-for-latinos-as-more-spanish-speakers-and-immigrants-go-online/ 

10) Learn some Spanish choruses for your VBS.  This will make Hispanic families feel welcome and it will put zeal in your hearts.

11) Have the Latino’s children translate for you when you invite the parents to church.

12) Learn some basic Spanish phrases, if only enough to give a tract, to invite someone to an English class, or to invite to special events at your church.

13) Buy a library for a Latino who is training for the ministry.

14) Make reaching Hispanics the theme of your next missions conference.

15) Purchase translation devices and have a bilingual speaker translate the sermon or lesson for those who are not fluent in English yet.

16) Send your Pastor or church leaders on a mission trip to a Spanish speaking country.

17) Connect with several like-minded churches and challenge them to invest resources and people to help establish a Hispanic outreach that could eventually lead to a church plant.

18) Visit our website www.reachinghispanics.org for further information, resources and ideas.

19) Sponsor a Hispanic family to attend a Hispanic retreat. We direct a Hispanic retreat each August at a camp in Clear Lake, IA. This would be a great way for your neighbors to clearly hear the gospel. www.reachinghispanics.org

20) Contact us here at Baptist Church Planters. We would be glad to come evaluate the possibilities of ministering to Hispanics in your community.

What a better way to teach missions than to just look into your own community and see the wide open door of Hispanics . . . your neighbors! They have come to us.  We just had to notice.

– Wanda Taylor

Herb and Wanda Taylor serve in Hispanic Ministries with Baptist Church Planters. Their theme is “Reaching Hispanics: Our Neighbors” by following their three-fold purpose: 1) PLANTING Hispanic Baptist churches, 2) PARTNERING with established churches to reach Hispanics, and 3) PREPARING Hispanic church leaders.

Web: www.herbandwanda.com; reachinghispanics.org; nchothinktank.com