On February 8-9, 2017 more than 1,000 people gathered in Mexico City for CTC Latin America’s first official conference—A Great Gospel for a Great City.
Christianity is deeply woven into the fabric of Latin American culture. While many Christians living in Latin America read and apply the Bible as a group of doctrines and laws, “the gospel” is a word that is not used much, even by pastors. As a result, legalism and moralism are common. For the people experiencing significant suffering or poverty, teaching that focuses on financial or personal prosperity has not fulfilled its promises and has left many disappointed and discouraged.
The confluence of these factors makes Latin America a region ready for a new message. Andres Garza, Regional Director of City to City Latin America, explains, “People have been waiting for something like this for a long time. When we discover grace and see how the gospel can be applied to every part of life—we discover a completely new world.”
During the CTC Latin America conference, Tim Keller preached on Jonah 4. Three times God refers to Nineveh as “that great city,” and God asks Jonah, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh?” The book of Jonah demands a response, and those at the conference heard the challenge.
Tim Cox, CTC’s Director of Communications and Media and Clara Kim, CTC’s Content Manager, attended the conference. Clara noted how engaged the audience was. “The message was so well-received not just because it was new but because it was applied to real life, practical situations, not theoretical.” Tim Cox added, “The gospel was unpacked in a way that a skeptical, pluralistic person could hear it. These pastors heard how they can help their parishioners see connections between faith and work—that their work matters. It’s empowering. It’s inspiring”
Latin America is 80% urban. Millions of people have moved to the city to escape poverty, terrorism, guerilla warfare, and to find better options for education and work. The city is a necessity. Andres explains, “The city was not on anybody’s radar—as an organism. People ask, ‘Do you mean the buildings?’ No. We mean culturally, socially and spiritually. So when they hear the message of Nineveh—it’s a completely different message from anything they’ve ever even considered.
Andres was amazed at the number of people that attended, but there was something that encouraged him even more. Andres explains, “There were big leaders in attendance. These leaders typically make conferences. They do not attend conferences.” But these mega church leaders came, and Andres says, “It is overwhelming—the response.”
And Andres says the incredible response continues. “Guadalajara—they are emailing me. They want me to come. They want vision casting and training. We are reaching Pentecostals and Charismatics. They are looking at what CTC is teaching as a very good option for them.” Andres’ wife, Ruth, is a part of Parakeleo—a ministry for church planters’ wives--in the region, and churches want to know more about this too.
Francisco Calderon, Training Coordinator for CTC Latin America, is encouraged but sobered. Francisco says, “We need to slow down to train leaders for the future, but these leaders need to be really immersed in the gospel.” Both Francisco and Andres want this current gospel momentum to continue into the next generation.
Andres sums it up perfectly when he says, “We are experiencing a new reformation in Latin America. It’s about a real understanding of grace. It’s a new way to understand what a Christian is and what a Christian church should be.” At the heart of this reformation is the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is at work in hearts in Latin America.