Rising Tides in Latin America


on January 1, 2014

Biblical Christianity is on the rise in Latin America, and so is atheism. As these opposing tides clash, Christians are discovering that they need to understand more about a biblical view of science if they hope to reach the next generation. They are clamoring as never before for apologetics resources to help them defend what they believe.

“Christians in Central and South America are on fire for the Lord,” says Joe Owen, who pastors a Spanish-speaking church in Kentucky and serves as Spanish ministry coordinator at Answers in Genesis. The pastors he meets are so enthusiastic that they often serve three or four churches, riding their bicycles in the mountains from one church to the next, Sunday after Sunday. They say people are coming to Christ weekly.

But atheism is on the rise. Latin culture tends to emphasize emotion, and traditionally Christianity has not focused much teaching on apologetics. In the past, questions about evolution were answered simply with “that’s of the devil, don’t believe that.” But now with the increasing influence of mass media, young people are encountering evolutionary teaching and demanding specific answers.

When Joe shares how science actually confirms the Bible, they are stunned.

The current challenge, Joe says, is that few Hispanic pastors have any grounding in creation apologetics, so they can’t yet equip their people. Most people put science and religion in two completely different, unrelated categories. “Many Bible-believing pastors secretly believe that science points away from God,” he says. “This has forced them to live with contradiction and berate themselves for lack of faith.” When he shares how science actually confirms the Bible, they are stunned. It is a completely new concept and a welcome relief. Joe has seen this reaction hundreds of times. The urgent need now is to train more pastors.

It doesn’t take much to spark their enthusiasm. When Hispanic pastors are introduced to creation apologetics resources, they are eager to equip themselves and others with these tools.

The opportunities are even greater in many countries of central and South America than in the United States and other Western nations. Ministers can openly teach the Bible in public schools, an open door created years ago when Catholics ensured that laws would not prohibit religious teaching. Now they have the opportunity to reach school kids with Bible-based answers to evolutionary claims.

In November, Joe went with leading creationists to assist an apologetics conference at the Evangelical University of Bolivia. The conference, which also featured speakers from a creation ministry in Peru, drew over 5,000 people—including politicians who normally will not visit churches. It also attracted the attention of the national media. Joe prays that the spark becomes a flame. He recently spoke at a conference in Peru, and his next conferences are scheduled in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

The church in Latin America is at a decision point. The time is now for Christians to mount the wave of interest in biblical answers or be overwhelmed by the rising tide of atheism.

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