A story of growth in Latin America
Last year in 15 countries across Latin America, over 3,000 people were trained through the Langham Preaching programme. Read on to see a glimpse of what this ministry looks like on the ground:
In Latin America, before pastors attend training seminars, they are plugged into Langham Preaching Clubs (called “escuelitas” or “little schools”), where groups of 10 to 12 meet regularly for ongoing mentoring and to practice preparing sermons.
Trained Escuelitas Coordinators lead these preaching clubs. After the training seminars, the pastors continue to be part of the escuelitas, applying what they have learned and supporting and encouraging each other. Great times of fellowship are had in these groups as they meet around the Word of God.
In FY22 (July 2021 to June 2022), 43 Langham Preaching training seminars were conducted in 14 countries across South and Central America, equipping 3,199 pastors and lay leaders. And around 313 preaching clubs met for ongoing mentoring of preachers in Latin America.
By God’s grace, and through your support, we hear testimonies like this from pastor Fernando in Cochabamba, Bolivia:
“Langham gave me the chance to go deep into studying the Word and to become a pastor.”
Growth in the church
Fernando became the pastor of Dios en Cristo church when it was a congregation of only 18
members. Today, the church has grown to over 250. He shares:
“What has produced such a growth in the church? Without any doubts, it has been the preaching of the Word. When the people of this church meet with God’s Word, their lives are transformed!”
What a joy to see how indigenous leaders, churches and communities in the Majority World are maturing in Christlikeness because God’s Word is being clearly and faithfully preached in a way that is relevant to their cultures.
Preaching movements are in place in the following countries in South and Central America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and another sensitive country.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, Langham, like all organisations, has had to adapt. Most in-person pastor training and leadership meetings had to be postponed during the height of the pandemic. Latin America was hit hard, yet new ways of working have emerged. The Latin American Preaching leadership has been at the forefront of developing new, creative and innovative ways of delivering training by fully embracing the use of technology.
Just a few weeks after in-person gatherings were stopped in 2020, they crafted guidelines on running escuelitas online and how to preach online.
The team started delivering preaching seminars online and gathered their facilitators and movement coordinators to meet on Zoom.
‘Our suffering continent’
Igor Amestegui, Director of Langham Preaching in Latin America, nearly lost his wife to Covid. He says: “While the heavy blow we have received from this pandemic is undeniable, we have also discovered that the Word of God has not been quarantined.
“On the contrary, we have been challenged to find creative ways to follow up on the call to form a new generation of Latin American preachers who respond to the hunger for God in our suffering continent.”
Alex Chiang, Regional Coordiantor for the Andrean region and based in Peru, is leading a new project working with Hispanic communities in the USA. In July 2021 a remote gathering took place with key leaders and in September 2021, 12 leaders met in Houston. Time was taken to understand the reality of the Hispanic world in North America and the challenges that the Latino church face. Workshops took place to deepen the theological and pedagogical proposal for the formation of preachers in Latin America and its relevance to the reality of Hispanic churches and preachers.
The programme keeps growing!
In late 2021, over four Saturdays, they trained 100 escuelita coordinators, from which 60 new escuelitas were formed.
Earlier this year, they concluded a virtual course spread over five Saturdays with 500 participants from Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil, as well as people from the Hispanic diaspora who live in Canada, the USA and South Africa. These 500 who registered came from the 60 new escuelitas.
Survey of participants
Recently, 242 people participated in a survey to assess the impact of Langham Preaching across the continent. When asked about the areas of growth in their lives as a result of the training, the most significant responses were:
• preparing clearer sermons (89%);
• understanding the Bible better (80%);
• learning how to apply biblical teaching to their lives (79%);
• becoming more Christ-like (52%).
Igor says “I thank the Lord for this evidence of growth in the areas we try to emphasise: clarity of communication, faithfulness to the biblical text, relevance to the contemporary world and growth in our maturity as preachers.”
Vision and commitment
Igor reports that at their leadership team meeting in Colombia in May, “we worked on our ministerial vision and dream. We began this work recognising the reality we live in. We are aware of the great social problems facing our continent.
“Corruption by governments of both Left and Right has brought even more misery and despair. The pandemic has aggravated the situation of poverty, unemployment and exposed the precariousness of our health system.
“Drug trafficking seems unstoppable and the violence and insecurity on the streets is increasing day by day. And what is sadder, violence is not only on the streets, it is inside homes. The statistics on the abuse of women and children are shocking and we know how deeply traumatising this violence is.
The transforming power of God
“This reality deeply outrages us and motivates us to dream that a different Latin America is possible through the transforming power of God and his Word at work in the hearts of the people.
“For us this is more than a distant utopia. We see people, families and churches changed, renewed when the Word of God is preached and obeyed.
“That is why we have decided to dedicate ourselves fully to God’s call to form a new generation of preachers who communicate Christ’s gospel message of hope, reconciliation and forgiveness.”Argentina, Central America, escuelitas, Igor Amestegui, Langham Preaching, Latin America, Preaching Clubs