Rosario, with a population of about one million (1.6 million in the metropolitan area), is Argentina’s second-largest city. Located 100 miles upstream from Buenos Aires along the Parana River, it has been a center of the terrorist activity and anti-subversive countermeasures that have upset the entire nation: kidnappings, bombings, murder in broad daylight.
The people of Rosario, like those of other urban areas throughout the land, are troubled by other problems, too. The economy is a shambles. Pessimism and apathy are dominant notes throughout society. Family life for many is a disaster zone (as is increasingly the case all over Latin America). The majority of the people profess Catholicism, but practice is something else. As elsewhere in the Latin world, the church is losing the pervasive influence it once had in the private lives of its adherents, and morality is more often than not up for grabs.
Spiritism is a growing phenomenon. More and more professing Catholics and Protestants alike are also practicing spiritists.
A year ago there were fewer than fifty evangelical churches in the city and surrounding countryside. They had a combined membership generously estimated at 4,000. Prodded by missionary Edgar Silvoso, pastors and mission personnel began putting their heads together well over a year ago to see what could be done to get things moving. A strong assist came from church-growth analyst Vergil Gerber of Wheaton, Illinois.
Out of their conferences came plans to sponsor a mass-evangelism crusade led by Argentine-born Luis Palau—but only in conjunction with efforts to establish in advance new churches to care for the new converts (see September 24 issue, page 66). The idea was to establish “house churches” ...1
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