Missionary Care from a Latin American Perspective

EMQ » April–June 2022 » Volume 58 Issue 2

By Paulo Feniman

Latin American Missionary Luis David Marti speaks at a Youth Congress in El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Luis David Marti.

In a world where our spiritual and emotional lives are constantly under attack, creating processes of mutual care that involve different players (sending churches, sending organization, field leaders, etc.) is fundamental to the care of our most valuable asset – people. However, we also must keep in mind that people react to situations and difficulties in different ways, and culture plays a very significant part in that. So many problems can be avoided when we remember this! As a Brazilian who has served in missions for more than 20 years, I’ve seen this play out many times.

For example, Latinos, like me, come from cultures where sharing our needs and problems is an expression of relationship. In fact, we are so relationally open that we share our difficulties with many people including those who may not be equipped to help with what we’ve shared! In our cultures, burdens are carried together in community. But as I’ve talked with Western colleagues, I’ve learned that their response to problems and ways to seek support are often not the same. What can feel like hiding behind a wall to me, they explain as privacy. Needs and problems are expressed within more defined structures, typically to fewer people, and in some cases not to anyone except maybe a spouse.