A Latin American Mission Movement!
Interview with Dr. Cliff Holland
After serving for eleven years with the ministry of Evangelism in Depth in Central America, Cliff Holland left in 1982 to begin a new School of World Mission program in Costa Rica which would, he hoped, help to awaken the churches of Latin America to their responsibility to send Latin American believers as missionaries to other lands. Recently he participated in an ADOPT-A-PEOPLE huddle of executives. Some of his comments about recent events in Latin America led to the following interview (which updates our coverage as a cover story in the December 1982 issueof Mission Frontiers.) We'll continue the interview in issues to come.
MF: In 1982 you reported that there were very few organizations or individuals that were strong advocates of teaching of missions to the pastors or lay people in the evangelical churches in Latin America. Almost five years have gone by since then. Do you see any change?
Holland: What is happening in Latin America today is really fascinating. Since 1983, a whole movement has begun, spearheaded by Latin Americans, which insists that it is time for them to assume responsibility for evangelizing the world.
One result is the upcoming Congress on Ibero American Missions (COMIBAM), to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil in late November of this year. Luis Bush, who is heading it up, is an Argentine who pastored in Central America and San Salvador. He was one of the first to begin to advocate teaching missions to the local church. He began by holding local missions conferences, hoping thereby to awaken the people in the pew to their missionary responsibility in terms of cross-cultural ministry.
MF: I thought the Latin American church is already far ahead of us in evangelization.
Holland: That's true. Church growth in Latin America has been phenomenal. But in the last few years Latin American church leaders have begun to recognize that God expects Latin Americans to also evangelize across cultural barriers÷that is, to reach out to people who are very different from themselves.
As a result, there has emerged a large scale, grass-roots missionary movement that is challenging pastors, their churches, and especially their young people. By North American standards, Latin American Christians are mainly poor. Yet today large numbers of them are willing to step out by faith and go anyplace on the face of the earth that God may call them, and to be all that He wants them to be, regardless of finances and other limitations.
MF: What do you expect will result from the COMIBAM conference?
Holland: I think there will be an explosion of mission interest. Consequently, we're going to need all sorts of mission materials in Spanish. There are a few available now÷for example, the Spanish edition of the U.S. Center for World Mission's Perspectives course. But I hope that a lot of the things published by the Association of Church Missions Committees and the USCWM will be translated into Spanish for our churches.
MF: We're making a start. This September we are offering on our campus the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course in Spanish. We hope they'll pick it up in other parts of the States soon.