Acts 10:34b-35 (NIV)
Dear Friends & Partners,
The gospel often travels faster than our customs and culture.
Such is the case in the Northern regions of Argentina, among the Wichi and Qom tribal peoples, where JESUS film showings have pierced patches of spiritual darkness. These peoples form some of the few surviving South American Indian groups in Argentina.
Their history is one of tribal wars, fear, shame, and many gods. In the age of the Spanish conquest, these tribes were pitted against each other as the Conquistadors used them as a strategical advantage.
It was not until the JESUS film entered some of these areas that the Wichi and Qom began actually seeing the gospel played out before them. The fear, mysticism, witchcraft, and loneliness began to dissipate as whole communities saw the love of a miraculous Savior in the words of the Gospel of Luke.
Yet, the Argentinian JESUS Film team would only stay for a short time because the true authority of the tribal communities is the chief. It is the chief that would assign a pastor to shepherd these new converts. Tribal peoples usually have trust issues when it comes to the government, not only due to historical oppression, but also because of very different infrastructural concepts.
When District Superintendent Carlos Radi began visiting the isolated churches on the district, some congregations were so isolated that some of the pastors were even not legally married.
Most of these pastors had been with their wives for over 30 years and were great-grandparents, but did not have legal marriage standing, and could not be given a minister’s license.
Carlos officiated at the marriage ceremonies of four pastoral couples in one year. He has taught all of the pastors to serve communion and baptize, to form a church board with a treasurer, and elect ministry presidents. Now, most pastors on the district have a minister’s license and there are two seminary extension centers.
In one of these weddings, the local pastor was so admired and respected that over 500 people attended his wedding. People traveled from many communities for this meaningful event! As Christ’s gospel penetrates the Native Peoples District, we begin to see the holistic transformation this Good News provides.
His gospel erases injustices of the past, forms new patterns of thought and custom, and renews a people long forgotten.
God has not forgotten them, and neither has the Church.
Missionary in Argentina
An earlier version of this story appeared in Holiness Today.
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JESUS Film Harvest Partners (JFHP) is a Kingdom-building ministry devoted to world evangelism through the JESUS film and other tools. JFHP equips and supports JESUS Film teams of local people to do evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.