Mexico, Canada & USA
The home continent to a large majority of the missionaries in the world is North America. But sadly it has slowly become a mission field in their own rights. But even without that there remains the noble cause of strengthening and continuing the outreach from the proven foundations. For this article I have focused on couples reaching international areas of the States and missionaries/church planters in Canada and Mexico. While I highly respect the works being done by pastors and church planters in the States and the extremely important role they play in the Great Commision, I will be exposing the areas that I have been able to interview.
Like many of the other continents many things will vary greatly from each country. I have so enjoyed delving into each of these ladies stories and seeing the beauty of how the Lord places each of us uniquely and equally equips us for our mission in life and those we are called to reach. It seems the more I research the more I find that the so called "easy" mission fields (those where people trust Christ quickly) are become very very few! The world is becoming much more predominantly filled with countries where the gospel is foreign or extremely skewed and the need for a faithful witness outweighs the need for a flashy speaker. While this should be true in every situation, when converts are arduously slow it will for sure test the resolve and calling of any man! But I am continually blessed to meet and interview many families who have done just that. Let's dig into their stories, shall we?
I was able to interview 6 ladies for this article; 2 in Mexico, 1 in the USA and 3 in Canada. We have ladies represented from Ontario, Labrador, New Brunswick, NYC, and two areas near Mexico City. We have areas ranging from heavily laden with snow to dry humid climates, farm countries to urban America.
Some ladies minister in areas overridden with religion,others with the neglected deaf culture and others with those very materialisticly blessed who struggle to see their need for a Saviour. From one extreme to another but all such a great need.
The ladies in Mexico serve amongst a great Catholic presence. In Canada it ranges from Catholic to United churches( a mixture of Methodist, Congregational and Episcopal), while the bigger cities will experience more of a multi-national religious pouring. On any given corner in Toronto you can find a church, mosque or temple to any religion you can imagine. The lady who I spoke to in NYC spoke of the unbelievable racial diversity with over 800 languages being spoken in her community, however their church area is mainly Jewish.
Some of these ladies serve in communities as small as 17,000 while other serve in places boasting 8 million people! What a drastic difference. For anyone who has lived in a tiny town you can attest to the transperancy with which most people live. Secrets don't last long and in some towns friendships are slowly won. While many times in big cities, people are equally distant and guarded with allowing people into their lives.
The need is baffling. Mrs. Gibson in NYC, told me that Today Magazine report that out of the 8.3 million people in the city only 5% were evangelical Christians.
That is mind blowing! A city on our own shores that claims so few Christians. What a mission field. One that takes much perseverance and faithfulness as those that stake their claim there are not easily persuaded to repent and accept Christ. They live in the upper crust of today's world. They have great jobs, good houses and live lives others covet. As the Bible says,
"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
I was told that Mexico is reported to be the second largest Catholic population in the world. What a battle they face, fighting against false indoctrination and the intense guilt and pressure often associated with the Catholic Church. As Miss. Castillo told me, one of her biggest struggles is to identify herself as different then the multitudes of Catholics around her. In these countries where Catholic is the only Christian name they have ever heard, they quickly lump everyone together.
In Canada, many people have a religious background, but like America Humanism has crept in and the chiefest sin has become offending someone. This unbiblical influence on offense, dilutes the message of Christ and changes his church from a place of holy worship to a place where sin is made at home and comfortable.
While we all know Mexico boasts a great number of missionaries, we can't begin to think it is enough considering the overwhelming statistics facing us of how many remain Catholic. In NYC there are actually quite a few church planters trying to carve out a work for Christ. But the road is slow and littered with discouragement. But praise the Lord he has given 40 couples the grace to be faithful and serve there with grace and obedience. For only through those things comes effectiveness and true success.
Canada reports a suprisingly small number of 300 Baptist churches in their country of 35 million and many of those are located near large cities. In places like Labrador there is known to be only 1 in the entire region. The need truly is great. But in these areas of Canada, you won't pop in and develop a booming church overnight. Many areas are clannish and either take offense to inferring they need missionaries or take years to accept you into the fold. In some areas that includes aboriginal tribes. Few have stayed the course long enough to reap the rewards. But praise the Lord God is working in those that have. Especially with young teens which in some areas have proven to be very receptive. Praise the Lord for reaching them young!
The time it takes to see people trust Christ in these North American areas varies greatly because most do have a foundation of Christianity of some form and have much of the information they need for salvation and are able to quickly accept Christ. HOWEVER, that doesn't seem to be what is happening. Especially in the more developed countries like America and Canada the daunting task is not to mostly teach them the concepts of Christianity but to convince them of their need. However amidst all this, there are those who are new to the gospel. The greatest of those two are the deaf in Mexico and the Japanese in NYC.
The deaf in many cultures are neglected and ignored. In some countries they have very very few resources to any form of education or the gospel. Like a child that has never known true love is distrusting and protective of their hearts, so are the forgotten deaf people. They need to see the proof of someone's love, in order to allow the seed of the gospel dropped into their hearts.
Not only do these ladies and the families face the struggle of reaching these people for Christ but also the task of helping them grow in Christ. When asked what their greatest ministry struggles were, they said, "overcoming culture pressure that affects biblical obedience, raising up male leadership, language struggles and earning people's trust who have become disillusioned and hurt by the Catholic Church, communicating the iminiate need of the gospel to affluent people." These are all great prayer requests for all of us to remember as we bring our North American missionaries friends names in prayer.
But more excitingly, I love to hear how each missionary has followed the Lord to find their unique niche in reaching people. All through obedience but each uniquely matched to the area and people God has called them to reach. In NYC, they have found that of course one-on-one witnessing is effective as well as English classes, children's choir events, Feast celebrations for the Jewish people and Bible distribution. In Mexico it is mostly made up of children's ministries and one-on-one outreach.
In Canada outreach ranges from door to door evangelism, youth ministries, ads in local papers and most uniquely in Labrador a ski lodge ministry. This church was given an old ski lodge that they are now able to use for public outreach and to give people the gospel. What a great way to use all we have been given to reach our mission field! I love it!
Many of these ladies are reaching mainly people native to the country that they serve but for a few such as those in New Brunswick and NYC have ministries enveloping many different nationalities and languages. They have willingly accepted the immigrants who have come to their areas and devoted themselves to reaching them equally with the gospel. It can easy to ignore immigrants and then complain about their heathenism. But I think God would have us to embrace the burden to reach all people of every race with the precious gospel most of them were deprived of in their Home Countries. What an amazing opportunity to complete the Great Commision from our own shores!
I have been blessed and burdened to learn about the mission field of North America. Thank you to all the ladies that assisted in this article including Joy Gibson, Donna Cook, Crystal Houghton, Cynthia Castillo and Amanda Dinsmore. I loved every minute of our interviews and seeing your burden and heart for your areas and how the Lord has worked in you so far!