Latin America (MNN) — When people think of missionaries, they often picture Christian families from the West leaving their belongings and reaching out to people in suffering countries. This limited definition of missions, however, will need to make room for a new reality–and quickly.
Ben Reyes, a missionary with The Mission Society, has been ministering in Latin America for the past several years. Reyes and his wife have been working mainly in Brazil and Paraguay planting churches and working with mobile medical clinics.
In recent years, however, the Reyes have felt called to raise missionaries in Latin America, especially Brazil.
"The Latin American church as a whole [has been] awakening over the past four to six years to their responsibility to the harvest," says Reyes.
Because the church in Latin America does have its own needs, sending missionaries has been, until now, somewhat off the radar. This is all starting to change.
"Before, the church in these countries throughout Latin America saw their own needs very greatly, and there are still very large needs that can be met. But despite this, they've also seen the greater need of reaching out to those that have not heard the Gospel," says Reyes. "So we're seeing more and more missionaries throughout Latin America going not only into missions, but requesting specifically for training going into the 10/40 Window."
The 10/40 Window is a region of the world between 10 and 40 degrees north in latitude, which includes North Africa, the Middle East and much of Asia. The generally-Muslim countries of the 10/40 Window provide a perfect mission field for the Latin American church.
"Because of the similarity of culture, skin tone ([which] is something that is very important [in this case]), and then the non-history of violence with other countries, Latin Americans are more acceptable in these countries."
To prepare these upcoming missionaries, for the last three years The Mission Society has provided training in Brazil. It is the same training used for Mission Society missionaries on staff. Although no one Reyes knows is prepared to go to the 10/40 Window just yet, some trained Brazilian missionaries have already been sent to France, Senegal, and Norway.
The passion for missions is certainly there; Reyes says the only major setback is funding. Because sponsoring missionaries had been out of the question for most Brazilian churches for years due to economic struggles, it is difficult now to get churches to commit to long-term support. Pray that the local churches would take initiative in financing their own missionaries.