In a new way, Christians are recognizing that they must bear their share of responsibility for the sores of society and the inhumanity of unjust government. God has commanded his servants to bind up the wounded and seek to free the captives.
Christians see, too, that their own freedom to bring the gospel to people in need cannot be taken for granted. They must battle for freedom for all if they wish to preserve freedom to witness to the redemption Christ alone can give.
Growth Should Arouse Interest
That is why we see Central America as an evangelical problem. And it is about time! Protestant missionaries first penetrated Central America a little over a hundred years ago. But they had tough going until the late 1960s. At the beginning of that decade, the total population of five Central American nations (Guatemala, Nicaragua, San Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica) was approximately ten million, of whom fewer than a half million were evangelicals. By 1982, their number had increased astronomically to 3,300,000.
During this period, the total population of the area doubled, but the evangelical church grew at an average annual rate of 13.5 percent and increased sixfold.
Church membership, it should be noted, has not increased so rapidly. For everyone officially listed on the roll of an evangelical congregation, three or four clearly belong to its fellowship. Some remain nominal Roman Catholics but still choose to identify themselves as evangelical Protestants.
The reason for this amazing evangelical growth is complex and need not detain us here. In its earlier period, Roman Catholicism identified itself closely with the traditional superwealthy who ruled South America and held the masses in poverty. In more recent years, a great ...1
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