Latin America

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)

Prayer Community

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Susan Murithi from Kenya

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David Tarus in Kenya

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Naomi James in Kenya

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Emmanuel Ndikumana from Burundi

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Daniel Dama from Benin

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Emmanuel Mukeshimana from Rwanda

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Prayer Community

David Kasali in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Prayer Community

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