Victor is a typical Indian campesino from the Bolivian highlands. His native tongue is Quichua, though he speaks some Spanish. Like his many neighbors, he supplements his income from farming by selling goods in the city market, and he participates in most community activities. But Victor is also atypical. He no longer participates in native religious festivals or pays homage to Catholic saints; now he considers such activities idolatrous. He has even stopped drinking alcohol.
Instead, Victor takes part in Indian Christian festivals. These celebrations are like the old ones in form—but not in content: Participants worship God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Despite the tensions his new-found faith creates, Victor is careful to maintain good relationships with local friends and family. But he also has an entirely new set of relatives: brothers and sisters in villages throughout the region.
They are part of a rapidly growing community of faith in Latin America known as los evangélicos. This community includes rural Indians and affluent urbanites, poor and rich, young and old. And it is cutting across virtually all of Latin America’s ethnic and geographic lines.
The term most often used to describe these believers is evangelical and is often used interchangeably with the term Protestant. The movement encompasses a large, diverse group of non-Catholic Christians who range from Pentecostals to Protestants.
Evangelicalism has become even more diverse in recent years. While the movement made its first inroads among urban and rural poor, increasing numbers of middle-class families have begun to convert, particularly in the large urban centers, such as Mexico City, Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and São Paulo. Evangelicals are planting churches ...1
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