The Colombian man works a late shift washing dishes in a busy restaurant surrounded by Bengali people. He has picked up a few words of their slang and they treat him like a brother simply because he knows what it is to be foreign in an English speaking world. For sixty hours a week, between loading and rinsing dishes, he works with them, side by side, and talks with them, bit by bit, and slowly gets to know them and their families. He knows the one who has a son who is struggling in school. He knows the other whose wife is nearly sick with depression from being so far away from everything familiar. He knows the young one whose mother is on the other side of the world and a scratchy phone call does little to bring her close. More than that, he knows what it is like to experience all of those things since he himself has the same troubles. They are all Muslim and have never experienced freedom from darkness, but the Colombian, he is Light.
The Hispanic Church in the USA is a sleeping giant.
There are many Hispanic Christians in America who live and work side by side with people of different faiths. Even though they are passionate about Christianity, they may not have realized the full potential of their position in this country as a way to fulfill the Great Commission. Often, Hispanics in the U.S. view missions as reaching out to other Hispanics or returning to their home countries to do orphan care ministries and other humanitarian aid. Even though these things are a great blessing, and often needed, it is different than fulfilling the Great Commission of going to those who have not yet heard the Gospel. One of the greatest tools used by God over the last few decades to help people understand their role in missions is the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class (perspectives.org) put out by the US Center for World Mission. The Perspectives course is more than a missions mobilization course; it helps people get in touch with God’s heart for the world, and also the Biblical mandate and reasons for mission, to “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” (Ps. 96:3)
Hispanic Christians naturally live between two cultures, and have thus been equipped by God to usually have an easier time relating and being sensitive to people from other cultures and to do cross-cultural outreach. A Spanish Perspectives course is all about helping them see the opportunities that God has uniquely gifted them to take hold of, catching the vision for their role in God’s heart for all nations, and to encourage them to boldly proclaim His truth to the unreached world all around them. This course, along with other shorter seminars and group studies, have the potential to empower a huge evangelical force.
Translating Perspectives into Spanish has only been completed in the last few years, and now, for one of the first times in America, the entire fifteen week course is being offered completely in Spanish. Here, in New York City, pioneering Hispanic pastors, lay leaders, professionals, and blue collar workers in a variety of ages and representing more than eight South and Central American nationalities are learning about God’s great burden for the people who have never heard His name.
They are learning and they are doing. Even now, small groups from Hispanic churches are being driven to pray for their unreached neighbors living in their own communities. Even now, Hispanic Christians are being moved to train others to reach out to Muslims. Even now, this great sleeping Giant, is being wakened to fulfill their roles in God’s grand rescue plan for all the nations of the world.
The Colombian man recognizes his Bengali co-workers, his Algerian neighbors, his Senegalese friends, and many others, as people whom the Lord has been longing to draw to His eternal kingdom. Through the Perspectivas course, he has studied the truth of God’s word and found therein all the boldness he needs to declare God’s glory among the nations. He is a Christian from Colombia, English is his second language and America is his second home; and in so being he is uniquely equipped to reach out to the unreached in his midst. May this city, and many other American cities, teem with other Hispanic and non-Hispanic Christians who are so compelled.