Walk with the People: Latino Ministry in the United States Review
The book has some good information for those who are interested in working with Hispanics in the United States. It is not a how to book, but more of an understanding of the Hispanics distinctives that makes it difficult to to do ministry. Much of this was not new to me since I have worked with Hispanics for many years (I am a 1.5 Hispanic, born/lived in El Salvador until 10 years and growing up in California. I am bilingual and biliterate) . My first church plant failed. Our current church, is a Spanish speaking campus within an English speaking church that has provided the support, structure and vision. This has been a difficult task but well on its way.
The author’s description of the different Hispanic “identities” is helpful. I use a more simple approach by saying first generation, second generation etc.. With each generations are certain general distinctives. I agree that this is complex. We are not monolithic even if politicians tend to see us that way.
The limitations of the book is it focuses mainly on Spanish speaking churches or ministries and not on becoming multiethnic serving both English and Spanish speaking Hispanics. I believe this is the greatest need that we have as Hispanics. We need churches that are Spanish speaking having English services with children and youth ministry in English not Spanish. Not only this, but we need English speaking churches (Hispanic or not) becoming multiethnic by offering Spanish services and integrating in children and young people into their English counterparts. The author does mention multiethnic churches but not much is discussed. I think this where we need to focus as Hispanics. In the next 10-20 years Hispanics not only will be the majority and their dominant language will be English. Who will reach them? Statistically they are becoming unchurched because they don’t fit in the “Latino” Spanish speaking church and culturally don’t fit in the “American” church. We need churches that become multiethnic in its function.
The Latinos have certain values such as community and family that can useful in carrying out the mission of the Gospel in the church. Generally, I would say this is true. But my experience has been that Hispanics in America are adapting to the American culture and is losing these values.
The use of Latino/Latina is inconsistent and confusing. Spanish is gender specific. Latino refers to a feminine person or thing, Latino to a masculine person or thing. But we also use the masculine as generic for both. “Iglesia” (church) is feminine in Spanish so in Spanish we say, “Iglesia Latina”. But this is not needed in English. We just say “Latino church”. The author uses them interchangeably (“A bridge Latina Church…and same page “The Latino Church”) at times which makes it confusing in his attempt to point to the feminine or masculine gender or to make it generic for both genders. This is not necessary in English! There really isn’t a problem that needs to be solved “mañana”. We still read the Reina Valera which uses the masculine as generic for both men and women.
Some quotes are political in nature such as Colón’s in the last chapter:
“We understand that God has brought the Latino people to the United States of North America with a redemptive purpose. The Latino community not only comes to model to a country in moral and spiritual decadence the family and religious values that distinguish us, but also as a reminder to the people of their greed and tendency to oppression, and to force them to re-examine their own ethnocentrism.”
I understand God’s plan for Hispanics differently regardless of political reasons or views in the past. I believe God has allowed Hispanics to grow in this country so that we can not only be missionaries here to proclaim the Gospel to all ethnicities which the American church has failed to do here and abroad. The mission field (America is becoming more diverse) has come to us and we can’t seem to see what our role need to be. Not only, this though, I believe we were brought here to become missionaries to be sent out to the ends of the Earth. Hispanics are resilient people who have left everything for a better life in America. If they can do this for a better life, why can they not do this for the Kingdom of God by taking the Gospel to the unreached? This is the vision I think we should be advocating. The question is, do we believe that this is possible? We need a movement of God in every Denomination and every church that takes note that Hispanics are key in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Some thoughts on the format of the book:
In Kindle version, the footnotes don’t show when clicked.
The author interviewed many Latinos but only quotes are shared. Would have loved more of a story of the church and/or dialogue about them and their ministries.
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