One sign of the maturity of Latin American evangelicalism is Ruth Padilla DeBorst's familiar name. The eldest daughter of eminent theologian and missiologist René Padilla is a theologian and church leader in her own right. For many years, Padilla DeBorst worked with the growing Christian student movements of Latin America under the umbrella of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES); now she is president of the Latin American Theological Fellowship (whose Spanish initials are FTL), director of IFES's Spanish-speaking publishing house Ediciones Certeza Unida, and team leader of Christian Reformed World Mission's work in El Salvador. Educated at Wheaton College's graduate school and pursuing a doctoral degree at Boston University School of Theology, Padilla DeBorst brings her cross-cultural intelligence to this year's big question: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world? She spoke with the Christian Vision Project's editorial director, Andy Crouch, at her eight-member family's cheerfully crowded apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Your life has unfolded through a series of moves across cultures.
I was born in Colombia to an Ecuadorian father and an American mother, but I grew up in Argentina. When I was in high school and university, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship and U.S. intervention in Latin America was pervasive. There was great anger among my fellow students about how American power was being used in Latin America.
But I had to wrestle with the issue because the United States wasn't simply another countryit was part of my roots, my mother's family. So before I could even begin to understand what God was doing in the world, I had to allow ...