In last seven months, the pro-democracy anti-extradition protests have completely changed Hong Kong. The protests started as peaceful marches against the extradition bill. However, violence and clashes between protestors and police erupted when the nonviolent protests failed to effect change. To date, police have arrested over 6,000 people and have fired more than 16,000 rounds of tear gas in the city.read more
Latin America is a large geographic region comprising over twenty countries and territories, including Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As a result of European colonization, national languages include Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English.
Politically, many countries have stabilized considerably as civil wars and authoritarian rule have given way to more democratic governments, though Venezuela and Cuba continue to struggle. Various reform efforts seek to address corruption, violence, and poverty, but drug and gang warfare persists in many nations. In recent years, hundreds of thousands have fled violence, poverty, and political repression in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
Although many Latin American countries have enjoyed economic progress, COVID-19 threatens these gains. Currently, Brazil has the second highest infection rate worldwide, after the US. Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Argentina are also among the twenty nations with the most cases. As a result of the pandemic, the number of people facing starvation has increased threefold to nearly 16 million. According to the UN, the crisis will push another 45 million people below the poverty line, further exacerbating the disparity between the very rich and very poor in the region.
In Latin America, Roman Catholicism dominates the religious landscape, but the Protestant Church continues to grow, especially among Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Protestants now represent more than 16% of the population throughout Latin America. In countries like Brazil and Guatemala, Protestants represent more than 25% of the population. As the Church grows, so also does the need for trained leaders who can shepherd the Church and address the specific challenges of the region.
In the 1960s, liberation theology developed in Latin America as a response to government oppression and poverty. The movement has focused on social justice, but has faced criticism for losing an emphasis on personal salvation. Among Evangelicals, a theology of holistic or integral mission developed decades later, uniting faith in the efficacy of the cross with concern for the poor and marginalized. Led by theologians such as Samuel Escobar and René Padilla, the movement continues to influence the Church through the work of the Latin American Theological Fellowship.
As part of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative, ScholarLeaders has completed strategic planning work with Fundación Universitaria Seminario Bíblico de Colombia (FUSBC). Work continues with a cohort of three seminaries in Brazil: South American Theological Seminary (SATS), Servant of Christ Seminary, and the São Paulo Baptist Theological Seminary. These schools have had to make significant changes due to the pandemic. We also plan to engage Seminario Teológico Centroamericano (SETECA) in Guatemala and Facultad Internacional de Educación Teológica (FIET) in Argentina. Through LeaderStudies, ScholarLeaders has supported 31 Latin American leaders in their PhD research.
Please join us in prayer for the leaders and schools in Latin America. Pray for bold pastoral leadership, deepening Christian discipleship, and wise theological voices that can address justice issues with the truth and power of the Gospel.
Photo: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by Agustín Diaz (Unsplash)
As the social environment gets more complicated, believers are facing a host of issues related to the family, such as extramarital affairs, homophobia, questions related to sex education and social services, etc. Due to a lack of academically trained professors, and a dearth of Christian writers and researchers, Chinese theological education cannot build itself up and remains ill-equipped to tackle these issues.read more
Pray that the Church would learn how to love and pastor the younger generation, many of whom have become disillusioned with both society and the Church. Some of them, because of their participation in the protests, have been arrested or have broken relationships with their families.read more
As a woman from a patriarchal Naga society, I am keenly sensitive to Mary’s role in the Christmas story. What immediately fascinates me is that she was chosen to bear the Son of God – what an honor! In a world in which women are dishonored and marginalized, this is a great story of honoring women.read more
As I grew older, I searched for the deeper meanings of Christmas. But what I found meaningful about Christmas at one stage of my life would not always suffice for the next. It seems to me that, as we grow and experience life in many ways, Christmas grows with us. We do not leave it behind. It shows up every year. It meets us at different points in our lives and we ponder its meaning anew.read more
It is customary for Chinese churches to reach out to local communities at Christmastime. However, as the situation worsens for many churches, and as Christians are constantly discouraged and even threatened, I am really not sure how we could sit around the table again this year to sing Christmas carols and retell the story of the Nativity. We Christians are in tears, crying as the psalmist once cried out in overwhelming desperation: “How long, O Lord, will you look on…” (Ps. 35:17).read more
In Japan, where only 1-2% of the population is Christian, people do not celebrate Christmas in the way Christians around the world do. Our culture generally associates Christmas with romance; thus, young people feel urged to find someone with whom to spend this “romantic holiday.” Alternatively, many families perceive Christmas as the day when they eat Kentucky Fried Chicken together (it is funny but true!). For many Japanese, Christmas is not the day for celebrating our Savior’s birth.read more
What strikes me about the Christmas story (according to Mathew’s account) is that the first Christmas was not a quiet and nice story at all. On the contrary, from the very beginning, on that first Christmas, the good news of salvation for humankind was jeopardized by hatred and violence.read more
We ask for your intercession on behalf of Beni. Our town has been brutally attacked twice in six days. The armed group that has been killing civilians in the Beni territory since 2014 has made incursions into the town of Beni and into our neighboring town of Oicha, killing over 75 of the most vulnerable inhabitants over the last three weeks. On November 24, one of the members of our contractor’s construction crew, the son of one of our campus guards, was killed in his neighborhood near our main campus.read more
Pray for Malawi and the aftermath of the general elections we had in May. Some political parties have not accepted the election results and the case is in court. There have been protests, at times violent, calling for the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission to resign. Pray that justice will prevail and that there will be peace in our country.read more
What is very crucial about Liberia is the number of young people in the nation. Liberia has a very youthful population, and Esther and I have had the opportunity of discipling and preaching the gospel to youths. Please pray that the young people in Liberia will come to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and have a transformative relationship with God.read more
My service has been in the area of missions and transformation, as well as missions in pluralistic religious contexts (Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions). In my 16 years of missions experience in Ghana, I have observed a phenomenal response to the gospel, as is common in some other sub-Saharan African countries. Operation World reports that “from 1900 to 2010, [African] Christian numbers grew from 9.1% of the population to 48.8%, and from 7.5 million to 504 million.”read more
For me, pray for God’s wisdom in my new role as Bishop of the Mwanza Diocese, good health, and networking with different people worldwide to enhance the ministry in the Mwanza Diocese. I need partners for working together on church leadership empowerment, evangelism and outreach ministries, youth ministry, women’s and children’s ministries, retired pastors’ ministry, etc. Even though my diocese has 550 churches, only 200 pastors have been fully trained in Bible schools. Over 300 pastors have not received training due to the inability to pay school fees.read more