Luis Bush, Latin America, and the End of History
"In the January issue of Mission Frontiers. I mentioned talking on the phone to Luis Bush only a few days before going to Guatemala to participate in "The Firs: Matron Consultation of the Evangelical Churches of Guatemala.' I reported briefly on my six days in Guatemala in the last issue (February, p12). My wife, Roberta, here explains a bit more about what is happening in Latin America and why we speak so boldly about the end of history."
Ralph D. Winter
Latin America and the Final Harvest
If you were to choose a certain area of the world to become the most potent power in completing the Great Commission, which would you choose? Asia? Korea maybe. But Korea is just one country. Africa? Africa is moving ahead. But it lacks economic resources.
By contrast, because of its European roots, Latin America is the great, sprawling "bridge continent" between the industrialized West and the underdeveloped counties of the world. And more exciting still, the evangelical movement in Latin America is strong, vital, and coming awake to its role in the final mission harvest.
That is why hardly any new even, so totally unexpected, could have such awesome potential for the future as the upcoming COMIBAM (Congress on Missions for Ibero Americans) meeting, November 23 29, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
And that is where Luis Bush. Latin American coordinator and newly named executive vice president of Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission, comes into the picture.
God's Man and God's Time
Despite his German last name, Bush is a native Argentinian born of Argentine parents. He came to the U.S. in the mid sixties to study economics at the University of North Carolina and; while there, became a member of the MI America Soccer Team. After returning to Argentina to do his stint in the military, he met several dynamic Christians and committed his life to the Lord. He lived for ten years in Brazil, where he learned to speak fluent Portuguese, then once again came to the U.S. as an employee of a multi national corporation based in Chicago.
While attending Moody Church, he felt called to the ministry and enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary. He graduated in 1977. Again, he returned to Latin America, this time to be the pastor of a small Central American Mission church in El Salvador which, under his leadership, was soon bursting at the seams. During those years Bush became the chairman of the board of all the CAM churches in the country as well as the founder and director of the El Saivadorean Bible Institute in San Salvador.
So? Any other activist young pastor could have done these things. But two things separated Luis from the crowd. One was his insatiable appetite for involvement in international, interdenominational fellowships, such as CONELA (a Latin American evangelical alliance), for which he became chairman of the Church Growth Commission. The other was his passion for missions which attracted the attention of the World Evangelical Fellowship and caused him to be named to its Mission Commission.
During these years God obviously had His hand on Bush in a special way. But Bush's most important contribution was still ahead. Clod was preparing a man whom He could use to rally the global network of Spanish and Portuguese speaking nations He chose a man who could speak Spanish. Portuguese and English fluently, who had had business and management experience, who had been successful in seeing a local church grow and multiply, who knew how to train national church leaders, and who had invaluable connections among evangelicals worldwide, a man who was unashamed to be the pastor of a small church, but who was able to walk with the giants of the Christian world. Moreover, God had endowed Bush with a divine restlessness accompanied by an inexhaustible supply of optimism. Bush could see what others couldn't.
A Corner Turned
While living in the U.S., Bush was fascinated by lnler.Vanity's triennial Urbana Missionary Conferences for college students. But Latin America is not the U.S. It does not have the economic resources to support millions of university students. And not many who go on to university are evangelicals.
In 1982, however Bush was asked to speak at TEMA '82, Europe's equivalent of Urbana. There he saw 70® European evangelicals of all ages excitedly attending a missionary conference. And he thought to himself, "If httropeans can get 7000 out to a missions conference, why can't we? Latin America is exploding with evangelicals by comparison to Europe. We don't have to invite students alone, asintheU.S. We cm invite all ages."
He bird our his idea in El Salvador in 1984. It met with such success that at a later broad based meeting in Mexico City, he suggested there should be a continent wide missions conference in Brazil in 1987, ... And COMIBAM was born.
From Mission Field to Mission Base
Evangelicals from all the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries of the world are invited to COMIBAM.
Mission leaders from Africa, Asia, North America and Europe will also attend. Unlike most of the international conferences of recent years, this conference will not major on evangelism¬that is, winning the unsaved in one's own culture. Rather, it will be on missions reaching out to people groups that are without the gospel.
As a prelude to COMIBAM, most of the countries of Latin America are calling preliminary nationwide mission conferences. Already, a number of these have been held, usually called "The First National Consultation of Missions in "__________." The first was the one Bush held in El Salvador. Since then, conferences have been held in Venezuela, Chile (October, 1985), Bolivia (November, 1985), Honduras (January. 1986), Guatemala (February, 1986), Mexico (February, 1986), and one for the Spanish speaking peoples of the United States in Los Angeles (fall of 1985). Many more are scheduled for later this year.
Accompanying or immediately following many of these are separate Youth Missionary Conferences, such as the one held last January in El Salvador and a similar one in Guatemala this past February. In Guatemala, the National and Youth conferences were also accompanied simultaneously by Women's arid Professional Men's conferences.
These Latin American missionary conferences, which stress outreach to the stilt unreached peoples of our globe, amaze us. Twenty years ago, when we left Guatemala for Ralph to join the faculty of the School of World Mission at Fuller Seminary, Latin America considered itself a missionfield. Today it is for becoming a major mission base.
Not only thaI, but, largely due to Luis Bush and others like him, Latin American evangelicals may very well become some of the great missionmob ilizers of the world and take the lead in the Third World in the final countdown to the END OP HISTORY.