More than twenty years ago, I was given the opportunity to be a part of a delegation of North American observers to a historic interdenominational missions congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It was called by the Spanish and Portuguese acronym, “COMIBAM ‘87” (“Comibam” meaning “Congreso Misionero Ibero-Americano” or the “Ibero-American Missions Congress”). More than three thousand participants from the wider world of “Ibero-America,” including all of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Americas, as well as the colonial “mother” countries of Spain and Portugal, came together.
Looking back and looking around, we can thank God for what was “then” (1987) and what is “now” (2008). These following seven areas of our Ibero-American world evangelization partners hold great potential for what “will be” in the years to come:
|Personnel||limited full-time missionary personnel||a growing percentage of missionaries from Ibero-America|
|Pioneers||mission to unreached people groups was a dream for most||dedicated personnel opening up and remaining in “restricted access” nations and among unreached people groups|
|Parishes||some local churches involved in world missions||an explosion of supporting congregations who are praying, giving, and going into world missions|
|Partners||around sixty Ibero-American sending organizations, with around 1,600 cross-cultural missionaries||more than four hundred sending organizations and ten thousand missionaries|
|Publications||few Spanish and Portuguese-language missions resources||a proliferation of printed and electronic missions training resources. In my own denomination, we have just mailed my own www.Creyenteglobal.com (the Spanish version of my www.Globalbeliever.com) to over 1,200 pastors and local congregations in the US and Puerto Rico alone.|
|Professors (Trainers)/Promoters||only a handful of trained missions teachers/mobilizers||a wider array of Hispanic/Latino missions veterans with professional training in missiology and intercultural ministry|
|Prayer/Missionary Passion||mainly focused on evangelism in Hispanic/Latino culture||a “white hot” missionary fervor for “the ends of the earth”|
As a teenager, I had my first short-term missions experience into the heart of Mexico. Now, after scores of missions experiences across Ibero-America, including my own missionary leadership in Spain and Portugal, I can say that “missions with Spanish and Portuguese accents” will be one of the defining trends in the future of world missions. Additional trends and information can be found at such sites as: www.comibam.org and www.comhina.org.
Dr. Grant McClung is an advisor to the Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship and is a member of the International Executive Council for the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee, USA).