Stephen Nichols (SN): Well, welcome back to another episode of 5 Minutes in Church History. On this episode, we are privileged to have, as you are affectionately known, the official voice of R.C. in Spanish. We have Pepe Mendoza with us.
Pepe Mendoza (PM): Yes.
SN: Great to have you with us. You are, in addition to being the voice of R.C. in Spanish, you are the Director of the Institute of Integrity and Wisdom, but could you say that in Spanish for us?
PM: Yes, Instituto Integridad y Sabiduría.
SN: That just sounds better. So, you were in the Dominican Republic, yes?
PM: Yes, but I moved to Lima.
SN: Lima, Peru.
PM: To face new challenges.
SN: Yes. Well, help us think about something we should know from the history of Christianity in Latin America.
PM: Well, I think that probably the unknown history in Latin America is about— for example—how the pioneers of the evangelism in Latin American worked in the first part of the twentieth century.
PM: When I was young, when I was probably eighteen years old, I was sent by my church to the Andean Mountains to talk with some elders and all pastors to talk to me about how they evangelize, how they gain people.
SN: For their congregation.
SN: And for the church.
PM: Yes. Evangelism. I think that they were great stories that we don’t know, and I think this very important to know how they do this thing. How they do the evangelism and the discipleship in times that were very difficult.
PM: Because of Catholicism. The influence of the Catholic church is so strong in Latin America.
SN: The Reformation didn’t make it there.
PM: The Reformation never occurred like here in North America or Europe. But, there were pioneers. The people that paid with their life for Christ.
SN: To bring the gospel.
PM: Yes. To bring the gospel over there.
SN: Is there a pioneer in particular we should know about?
PM: I heard stories at that time, for example, that the churches are not allowed to have an open church for people to go into the church. So, they have to fight for the rights to preach the gospel at that time, and, I think that these kinds of people that are only known by God are brave.
SN: Yes. I think the encouraging part of this story is not only do we have this idea of the gospel coming to a place where there is a darkness, but where there is this lack of freedom. I think sometimes— especially in our North American context—where there’s a church on every corner and where we’ve just had religious freedom as a reality, we forget that for so many centuries of the church, and for so much of global Christianity, what we have is actually not the norm, but more what is less than the norm and the more marginal experience. So, we find encouragement even as we’re coming into these moments and North American Christianity to learn from our brothers and sisters and some of their experiences that they’ve had, and an appreciation for the gospel and for being the church.
PM: I heard, for example, many stories about people that can’t go to the grocery store because they were Christians. Because there is bad luck for the owner of the grocery store because they are Christians. Or they were not allowed to be buried in the cemeteries because they are Christians and not Catholics.
PM: So, there is a lot of stories like that and we want to learn about them.
SN: It’s so important that we remember those stories and we know those stories.
PM: Because we know those stories from another part of the world, but not from Latin America.
SN: Well, were also encouraged that through some of your work, and your efforts and translating and faithfully proclaiming the gospel into this region of the world, that there will be many, many more stories to come.
PM: Yes. That’s true.
SN: Well, thank you for being with us. That was Pepe Mendoza from Lima, Peru. He was with us here at the Ligonier National Conference.