In a colorful village of Guatemala, nine witchdoctors destroy their amulets and accept the Christian Gospel. At the same time, 40,000 of their countrymen enthusiastically join in an unprecedented year-long evangelistic thrust that still goes on. Deep in the Ecuadorian jungle an Auca assassin is won to the faith by the widow and sister of his victims. Simultaneously, at the other end of the continent Billy Graham draws the greatest crowds of his career. Over radio, by television, and on street corners, thousands of Latin American evangelicals bear their sustained witness to Jesus Christ.

These tokens—still sporadic, still spotty, to be sure—reflect a vital, growing Protestant Christianity in the great continent to the south of us. Rising up like Gulliver to burst its Lilliputian bonds, it promises to stretch and cast its shadow not only across Latin America but to the world outside.

For centuries Latin America was a castle fortress with the ocean as its moat. Spanish galleons fought off the marauding attacks of Francis Drake and Henry Morgan and moved in stately convoys to transport the New World’s wealth back to Hispanic shores. The Spanish Armada was intended primarily to defend a commercial monopoly. But it served also to make the Latin American castle as impregnable to alien missionaries as to alien merchants, effectively isolating it from “foreign” culture and religion.

Within its castle walls, Roman Catholicism suffered from both lack of priests and lack of competition. Aided by the “Holy Inquisition,” Romanism evolved in peculiar Latin American forms, with syncretistic tendencies and emphasis on the visible and sensual forms of worship and practice. Its political and cultural entrenchment became absolute, despite its ...

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