Many missionaries are convinced that the greatest opportunity for the Church of Jesus Christ today lies in Latin America. With population expected to soar well past the half-billion mark by 2000 A.D., Latin America may become the most populous and in many ways the most important segment of the Western Hemisphere. The evangelical community today numbers nearly 6.5 million and is growing rapidly. Persecution is always on the horizon, yet even countries like Colombia are ripe with opportunity. According to the 1958 National Catholic Almanac, “A controversial survey of conditions in Latin America by Fr. Albert J. Nevins in September, 1955, reported that 93 per cent of the millions of Latin Americans claimed to be Catholics but estimated that only about 10 per cent actually practice the faith. It declared that the (Roman Catholic) Church was strong in Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Argentina; that it was standing still in Guatemala, Nicaraugua, El Salvador, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Peru and Uruguay, and that it was dying in Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, rural Brazil, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Haiti.” As Father Nevins’ report indicates, nine in ten of those classed as Roman Catholic practice no religion. If they are not confronted by the Gospel, something else presumably will be imported to fill the vacuum.
In this Index all countries south of the Rio Grande are classified under “Latin America.” Separate attention is given to Brazil, not because of its linguistic uniqueness (Portuguese rather than Spanish) but because it affords a prime example of modern missionary opportunity. Brazil has the fastest-growing evangelical community in the world.
including Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America
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