Where Are Their Missionaries? (The Latin American church and the lack of outward missionary efforts)

The Command is to Send Missionaries, Not Just Receive Them

Is your church a missionary church? Are you committed to praying for, giving to, or possibly preparing a brother or sister from your church to go on a mission trip? Do you have a desire to work in missions?

In many Latin American countries, we have seen great missionary efforts from groups and individuals from various foreign organizations. Many churches have received groups of “missionaries” or have met missionaries personally who work in their town or even in their local church. Many of the people I have met here in the Dominican Republic have been the fruit of these missionary efforts. Of course, what has been done in Latin America has happened despite the problems of the region. In addition, we cannot deny that God has used them despite these many difficulties. But by God’s grace, at the end of the day, the church arrived, and for this reason today we have worshippers of Jesus Christ in Latin America. Does it have its problems? Yes. Is there work to be done? Very much! But we give thanks and glory to God first for that.

However, there is something worrying that happened with the “passing of the torch of the gospel.” The vision fell short in many places, or perhaps the mission was not communicated well in its fullness. When a people recognizes their responsibility to reach their population with the gospel, they are headed in the right direction. But it must be understood that within the mandate remains the element of going beyond, and we cannot ignore it. So we must define the terms.

What happened after the transfer of that sacred truth that is the gospel, when it passed from one distant land to another? Why does it seem that many countries receive missionaries, but generally very few in Latin America have sent missionaries to other places? Many believe that evangelizing their own people is enough and bringing the gospel to other places in their own country is enough to participate in the Great Commission. For many, this is missions.

I have persoanlly witnessed entire “mission” campaigns on a national level of a certain baptist denomination that focused its entire month of missions on trying to get people to go out and share the gospel in their neighborhoods. Where most of their neighbors were exactly like them. I applaud the effort, but it was am emphasis on evangelism, not missions. I was asked to speak at a church who was participating. I was the only missionary there. I was gentle and loving. But I was clear that what was going on that day was much more evangelism than actual missions and that we just shouldn’t stop there. I remember receiving many blank stares after saying that. Their concept of missions was actually evangelism. We must define the terms.

Let’s see what the gospel of Matthew 28:18-20 says:

“Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Some brief observations:

* Jesus declares his supreme authority before His disciples.
* Based on that authority, Jesus gives orders to his disciples that include:
* Going to other places
* Making disciples of all nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη)
(groups with ethnolinguistic and cultural differences, within any nation, and outside in other nations as well).
* Baptizing believers.
* Teaching them to obey Jesus.
* Jesus promises to be with us always.

Generally, any biblical church understands the importance of evangelizing, understands the concept of making disciples by teaching new believers how to follow Christ. And many understand the ordinance of baptism and the importance of growing in knowledge and obedience to the teachings of our Lord.

But for one reason or another, we have failed greatly in a vitally important element of the Great Commission. The mandate includes going beyond, to people different from us. I am referring to an intentionally transcultural ministry, crossing ethnolinguistic and even geographical barriers, intentionally bringing the gospel to people different from us and starting the same process with them as was done when the gospel came to our context. There are some churches that, yes, have managed to send some, but if we are honest in view of the big picture, there are very few.

Where do we begin?

First, the most practical and natural thing is to reach out to people in our families, neighbors, coworkers, etc. But that’s really just evangelism. We need to have a plan to reach out to foreigners and make disciples of them as well. Maybe your church doesn’t have the resources to go, or support sending someone to a faraway land. But have you ever thought about the foreigners who live in your community, in your city? Groups that are usually looked down upon. They need the gospel too. And that would be a perfect example of participating in missions locally.

What would you think if I told you, with great sadness, that I have heard a pastor with my own ears say that he is not interested in reaching out to “those people”? This man then said that, “They can come to my church if they want, but I will not make an effort to reach out to them beyond that.”

“Those people!” At that moment, my heart was broken. This pastor was contradicting part of the mandate of Jesus. The most ironic thing is that if it were not for missionaries from other countries who brought the gospel to his country, he would not have the hope he has now either. Thank God that the brothers who reached this man’s country did not think the same way.

Why it is important to define the terms?

If we do not understand that the Great Commission carries with it the intention of propelling outward and reaching people different from us where we live, and even further to other ethnicities outside our borders as well, we do not understand the concept of missions.

In short, evangelizing is bringing the gospel to our own people and of course evangelism is very important. But, according to the biblical pattern, missions could be better defined as the “intentional way of crossing cultural barriers to evangelize and disciple.”

We are wrong when we only evangelize people of our own culture and think that we are fulfilling the mission, when in reality, it is only a part of the mission. The text does not present us with the luxury of only working here or there, one group or another. It is both things. The Lord with all authority in heaven and on earth said to “all nations, to all the world.” And I repeat, that was a command, not a suggestion. The King of kings has given His orders; period. I agree with John Piper when speaking about missions he says: “We only have three options, to go, to send, or to disobey.” It is key that we can understand this, that missions should not be optional for the church.

Below, I present some evidences that may show that many churches have lost focus, and then you will be able to see some practical suggestions to start taking the Great Commission more seriously in our local churches, even with the few resources that many churches have.

Evidences that we have lost focus of the mission

Churches with growth invest their resources (and sometimes even go into debt) with secondary matters; such as better equipment, larger temples, a multitude of fun activities, etc. But in order not to be misinterpreted, I must clarify that these are good things and none of them are a sin in themselves. I would never say something like that. But, if I ask you to honestly examine our priorities. The budgets of each church reveal a lot about the true priorities of any ministry. If we take the words of the Lord seriously, the Great Commission should be one of those priorities.

Evidences that we have lost focus of the mission:

  • Receiving and thanking missionaries from other countries who come and help, but without having any urgency to understand the need to imitate that kind of sacrifice and dedication for others. What we have received was never only for us.
  • No long-term plan to prepare and send missionaries from local churches.
  • -No funds allocated in the church budget to support some people who are already working in the mission field.
  • No place on your prayer list for missionaries in other countries, or for the Lord to raise up missionaries from your congregation to give their lives in the mission field in another country.

It is time for us to learn to obey the Lord and step outside our comfort zones, my brothers. This is God’s plan, and we should not give ourselves the luxury of ignoring the most difficult parts of following Christ. Let us remember that in the book of Acts, the disciples had to suffer persecution in order to spread the gospel to other cities and nations. We should not expect anything different for us.

Some suggestions for adjusting our focus and beginning to participate in the Great Commission:

  • Firstly, we must pray. Let us pray for missionaries in other countries. Brothers and sisters who give or put their lives in contexts much more difficult than ours.
  • Let us pray that the Lord will put a passion in the hearts of the members of his church to present the gospel in other nations.
  • Let us pray for provision so that we can support missionaries and eventually send others. Faithfulness is more important than quantity, and the people who give offerings and pray for missions play a role of equal importance to that of the missionary in the field.
  • Let us pray and choose a country for which to pray frequently, for the missions and the church of that country. Praying for missions in other nations is participating in those missions. We depend on the Lord, and we cannot do it in our own strength.
  • Let us pray that the Lord will raise up one of his own church to the mission field, possibly it could be you. Would you be willing?**
  • Be intentional in preparing leaders. This should always be a priority in any church. If you have faithful men working in the ministry, who know the Word of Truth, they will be the best candidates. If they are to be effective as missionaries, they must be good theologians.
  • Above all, do the work of an evangelist. Preach to everyone. But you must be intentional in seeking opportunities to build relationships with people from other cultures as well (even if it is with translators), take the time to learn things about them and their culture, with the goal of preaching the gospel to them. This is also participating in missions.

If you open your eyes you will realize that God brings a mission field to your own doorstep. Opportunities abound, Christ has all authority and thank God He promised to be with us. What else do we need? What stops us?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… – Jesus

(This article was originally written in Spanish. The context is of the Latin American church and the lack of outward missionary efforts. Written and translated by Antonio Salgado.)

If the Lord so lies on your heart to give back to Him by supporting this ministry:

You can donate to this ministry online with PayPal. Click the donate button below to send support of any amount directly to the ministry. This is the fastest option to get funds to us. Click the link below for that option.


P.O. Box 219228
Houston, Texas 77218-9228
1-800-CMC-PRAY (1-800-262-7729)
Office: 281-599-7411
Fax: 281-599-7511

The ministry of (CMC) serves hundreds of missionaries, but they ONLY receive the funds for us and in no way have control over how the funds are to be spent or what we are to do as a ministry, which gives room to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and the liberty in making needed adjustments.

You may begin sending your support to the BCMS (Antonio Salgado) at any time at the address above. (Checks should be made payable to Central Missionary Clearinghouse or C.M.C.)

You can also now give to the ministry here in the DR online through the new giving solution called “click and give” at the CMC website.

To get started, you just need to click on the link below and register the first time. Just a simple click on the donate button on their page (see link below), and then click the “click and give icon/button”.

For tax exemption, you must send your donation through Central Missionary Clearinghouse (CMC) at the address above. But the PayPal option is the fastest way to get funds directly to the field.

We do not use a sending agency that gets a percentage of the money donated, so you can be sure that your gift goes directly to the mission field.

Whatever you decide, thank you so much for praying for us. Grace and peace.

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