Innovative Training Empowers Latin Missionaries
QUITO, Ecuador—Responding to the call of the exploding Latin American missionary movement for better training, HCJB Global this weekend launched Corrientes (or Currents), a ministry to mentor missionaries from South and Central America in acquiring vocational skills, building cross-cultural relationships, learning languages and deepening their relationship with God.
“The launch of Corrientes is really an expansion to the world of HCJB Global's success in Latin America, using media and health care to bring people to Jesus,” HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson said. “The next phase of the Corrientes project is to work collaboratively with other agencies and denominations across Latin America to mobilize the church for cross-cultural ministry in countries traditionally closed to Westerners.”
Corrientes—a partnership of missionaries and church leaders from Latin America Mission, IMB, SIM, Paraclete Mission Group, the International Christian Mentoring Network and numerous Ecuadorian churches and agencies—provides Latin missionaries with the bivocational and personal skills they need to serve more effectively.
The Latin missionary movement—with 12,000 missionaries serving worldwide, 40 percent of them in unreached areas—has been characterized as long on enthusiasm but short on staying power. Corrientes equips missionaries with HCJB’s long-established expertise in health care, radio and community development.
“Because Latinos have had local, short-term experiences, many youth are tempted to bypass university education and go straight into missionary service,” said Les Hirst, who coordinates the program in Quito. “For Latin America, this is concerning because they will have no profession and no college education. One pastor called Corrientes an answer to the prayers of the parents in his church.”
The three- to six-month training will take place at HCJB Global’s facilities in Quito, Shell and elsewhere in Ecuador. Trainees will come from throughout Latin America and must already have the support and encouragement of Latin churches and missions agencies. In Corrientes, they will learn specific skills to help them succeed in their areas of service.
“We design customized educational experiences that will fill holes in their training to increase longevity and effectiveness of the Latin American missionary force,” Hirst said. “The life-transfer of mentors is the key to the effectiveness of the training.”
For example, the first missionary couple accepted into Corrientes asked for an internship in obstetrics for the wife, who is a doctor. From her previous short-term experience, she knew it would be important to be able to deliver babies and help expectant mothers.
“Our hospital staff put together a plan for her that will give her experiences in this area,” Hirst said, “filling a gap in her training so she will be more effective as they establish a clinic in Africa.”
Carlos Pinto, psychological and educational consultant for Corrientes and member of the World Evangelical Alliance member care task force, lauds the initiative for its innovative flexibility. “This is not an imported curriculum,” Pinto said. “On the contrary, it is developed by each missionary trainee during the training process.”
Given the focused, intimate nature of the ministry, Corrientes will train three to four Latin missionaries in its first year, 10 next year, and 15 to 20 annually thereafter. Hirst said that although Corrientes costs are minimal because of a largely volunteer staff, North American Christians can help by sponsoring scholarships for trainees. He added that Spanish speakers with expertise in media, medical care and community development are needed.
Pederson said the results will be far-reaching: “Our priority in Latin America is to recruit and develop a new generation of missionaries from Latin America who will reach new generations around the globe. By God's power, Corrientes will bring the church together in a practical, collaborative effort to reach more people for Jesus.”
HCJB Global is based in Colorado Springs, Colo. For nearly 78 years, the ministry’s passion has been to be the “voice and hands of Jesus” to the unreached. Using media, healthcare and community development, while working with partners around the world, HCJB Global has ministries in more than 100 countries, airing the Gospel in more than 120 languages and dialects.
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