Witnessing to a Latino

A common mistake when witnessing to a Latino (a Hispanic in the United States) is to assume that they understand our gospel presentation in the same way that an American would.  Remember, even the English-speaking Latinos have a world-view completely different than our own; therefore, it is helpful to understand a little about where they are coming from before we share the gospel with them. Here are a few tips:

Latinos are very religious. Allow the Bible to reveal the heart. You may find it difficult to discover exactly where a Hispanic is spiritually because of their religious familiarity.  The vast majority of Hispanics are Roman Catholic with traditions going back several generations. Because of this, Hispanics have an apparent love for God and use common Christian terminology. They are familiar with terms such as salvation, faith in Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, personal savior, and repentance. The problem is that they understand the meaning of these terms to be something other than the truth. Most Hispanics will answer yes when asked, “Do you know Christ as your personal Savior?” when they are not truly born-again. The best solution is to direct the Hispanic to a Bible study and to allow God’s Word to pierce through the religious layers while convicting the heart.
Latinos rarely outwardly reject an invitation. Share the gospel at the very first encounter; however, trust the Holy Spirit’s leading for the invitation. It is part of general Hispanic courtesy to never reject or disappoint someone to his or her person.  When you invite a Hispanic to church, they almost always will say that they will come whether or not they have that intention. The same is true when given an invitation to accept Christ.  Have you heard of evangelists going into a Latin-American country for meetings who come back reporting that hundreds had been saved?  What should have been reported is that hundreds had raised their hands in response to an invitation. Unlike Americans, they consider it polite to outwardly accept an invitation even though they may not truly understand or believe. Because of this tendency, it is best to move slowly when confronting them with the gospel. Share the gospel at the very first encounter; however, be patient and trust the Holy Spirit’s leading when it comes to the invitation.
The Latino culture is ripe and ready for harvest.  Take advantage of every opportunity. To end on a positive note, there is no culture generally more open to the gospel today than the Latino population.  Missions in Latin-American countries are prospering, yet Latinos in America tend to be even more open to the gospel.  Several factors influence this:
1) Coming to the United States, Latinos have weakened normally strong family ties that include Roman Catholic tradition.
2) Many Latinos have come to the U.S. expecting “streets of gold” but instead have found incredible struggles of adjustment, loneliness, and rejection.
3) Latinos receive so little friendship from the Anglo population that when a Christian does begin to be involved in their lives – the love of Christ has many opportunities to shine.  Because of this hunger for truth, other cults and religious movements are spreading rapidly amongst Latino populations – especially the charismatic movement.  It is vital that we take advantage of every opportunity to share the pure gospel of  God’s Word.
The next time you meet a Hispanic, remember that their world-view is unique and affects the way they understand the gospel.  Knowing a few of these cultural tendencies can better equip you to be an effective witness.  May God richly bless as your continue to be a missionary to those in your own community.