Actual complaints from a disgruntled Peruvian.

The following statements are not necessarily true. The pastor who wrote this just wanted to cause trouble and was not good Christian however I believe that we can see a few things here that we might be careful about in our own ministries.

Never saw the missionaries passing out tracts, visiting mission works etc.

Heard the missionaries preaching warmed over messages.

Saw a lack of evangelism and discipleship performed by the missionary.

Missionaries gossip about their workers.

There were racist tendencies. This was due to the fact that the missionary does not believe in interracial marriage.

Did not explain tithing to the people. In other words the missionaries want the people to tithe but they don’t practice it themselves. The reason is many times that they send it to their home church but the people don’t understand. We need to let them know how we are participating in the work of God financially in our area. They won’t do what you teach but what you do. Another problem is that missionaries are famous for paying all the bills and never teaching the people to tithe and carry their own responsibility. In Peru many pastors will say that they do not want to pastor a church where the missionary has been because he will not have taught the people to tithe, care for their pastor, give to missions, etc.

If God is really with the missionary why is there no success in his work.

Advice from a Latin American

Below you will find the counsel given by Emilio A. Núñez C. and a group of his former students at the Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala. I do not necessarily agree with everyone but since they were each stated by nationals I believe that they deserve your careful consideration.

SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW MISSIONARIES AND THEIR ADAPTATION TO LATIN AMERICA

1. Remove from your head your great American ideas of how things should be done here.

2. Do not think you have come to work with uncivilized people.

3. Do not teach so much theory, but practice your teaching in your life. Show us how it works in real life as you model the truth.

4. Read about Latin America and my country. Find out who our best authors are.

5. Have more contact with the people, not only in the churches but in your social life.

6. Live at an adequate level, neither too high above us nor too low below us. Adapt your life-style to the people with whom you work.

7. Do not talk in English when there are people present who do not understand it. This is rude on your part, and we tend to suspect that you are talking about us.

8. Do not impose your American customs on us or belittle ours. Do not try to make
us into little North Americans.

9. Do something to meet the social needs of our people, whether it be literacy, relief, or development projects.

10. Do not feel that you are superior to me. We can sense pride even in small amounts. You came to serve in humility, and it is best that you not compare cultures, trying to prove yours is better.

11. Show love to people as you do in your country, and then learn how we do it here.

12. Learn our language well: our sayings and proverbs, our youth slang (if appropriate), our subjunctive, our regional and national accents.

13. Try to learn our language so well that you speak without a foreign accent.

14. Read about our continental and national heroes: Bolivar, Miranda, Juárez, San Martín, and others.

15. Be willing to accept our suggestions. That may hurt, but we want to help. You have to accept them with humility. Learn the meaning of Proverbs 27:6 and 17.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

16. Watch the way you speak to us. We are very sensitive to the tone of voice and
the choice of words. We are touchy people.

17. Be more diplomatic in your relationships with us. Do not greet us as you gringos greet each other. You seem too cold and distant. Ask about our families and our personal lives.

18. Learn to touch us appropriately. You people seem very cold in human relations. There is nothing like a great abrazo. (hug)

19. See yourself as a co-equal with us, neither higher nor lower.

20. Develop serious and deep friends from among us, people with whom you can be transparent and vulnerable. This will take time and is costly. But you can ask them about the intimate things, about ideas and other topics. This step is risky, for the closer you get to us the more unhappy you might make your missionary colleagues.

21. Love without talking about it. Just show it.

22. Show that you lovingly expect much from us without coming across as a paternalistic chief.

23. Make disciples among us leaving a human and reproducible legacy when you leave.

24. Eat and like our food, not just Pizza Hut and McDonald’s. We also like to know what you eat at home as a family.

25. Learn to dress like Latins, using our styles and fabrics.

26. Be more flexible in terms of time., Slow down! Why are you always in a hurry, looking at your watch? There is more to life than time.

27. Learn and appreciate our music and instruments, both folk and classical.

28. Drop the terms pounds and miles, and then learn to give weights and distances in kilos and kilometers.

29 Struggle honestly with our struggles: social, historical, cultural, church, and Christian life. Do not just give us capitalistic answers, and do not reduce societal problems to simplistic spiritual solutions.

30. Learn to read the Bible from our perspective and culture. You will have to work at this, but it is worth it. Note how much of the Bible was written to people who lived in violence, injustice, and political uncertainty.

31. Remember that we think differently from the way you do, and our problem-solving is different from yours. Learn how we do it.

32. Come and stay with us for a long time. Short terms are shortcuts many times.

33. At the same time, be bold enough to examine whether or not you should stay in
Latin America as a missionary. Perhaps some of you should return home, particularly if you cannot adjust here, or do not know why you came, or are having serious family problems, or cannot work with us.

3 Comments
  • Posted January 5, 2013 10:12 am
    by Kyle

    Very helpful this week. I took a lot of notes. I think my biggest failure is that I talk about the U.S. and culture there too much. We talk about what we know and it’s time I know Chile better than I know the U.S. A Chilean pastor friend told me that one missionary he works with is constantly staying up to date with news in Chile and when he mentions current events from the pulpit people take note and are impressed. I also liked what you said about studying national heroes and history; I’m going to work on that.

    • Posted January 5, 2013 1:20 pm
      by wagardner

      God bless you. Thanks for taking the time to listen. Pass it along!

  • Posted January 8, 2013 1:55 pm
    by David Velasquez

    Once again fantastic!

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