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By: Gustavo Soto on: May 23, 2014
Story Type: History    

That We May Be One

 
1983. Costa Rican Bible Institute. A Camino missionary challenged his students about sending missionaries from Latin America to the ends of the world, just like they were doing from the United States. Everybody was listening quietly, except one student who refuted him with a strong argument, “It’s easy for you to say that because ‘you’ (Americans) have dollars but ‘we’ (Latinos) don’t.” The student was proud and convinced about his point.

That student was me.

Less than a year later, God changed my understanding about missions. In 1984, as a seminary student in Guatemala, I attended Misión 84, a missions conference hosted by Nazaret Church in El Salvador, a Camino-related church. That conference changed my life and refocused my ministry. I understood that sending wasn’t only for them but also for us.

For the last 30 years, God has taken Camino Global on a journey of discovery and growth in vision. Now we don’t talk about missions from north to south or from east to west; it is about missions from everywhere to everywhere. We don’t talk about sending to the Latinos, but sending with the Latinos. But probably one of the biggest changes we are witnessing is that we are avoiding talking in terms of them and us. The Lord has shown that his mission is one, as his Church is one. The teams could be multi-national or multi-ethnic or multi-cultural, but each team member has to embrace God’s mission as one body.

As a mission agency, we still have a lot to learn. But we see exciting signs that we are on the right path. The opportunities are unique, and FAM International and Camino Global are facing them with great expectations. When God opened a door in the Philippines, FAM and Camino had no doubt about taking that project as a team. In two years of united effort, contacts remain strong. Our first seven candidates are ready to go as a multi-cultural multi-faceted team: a young man from Costa Rica, two couples from Honduras, a young lady from Mexico, and a Filipino-American sister.

And God is opening another door in a secure-access country. We are looking for candidates that, no matter their nationality, are committed Christians, with a college degree and bilingual in Spanish and English. Many from our churches in Latin America fit that profile. But that is also true in the U.S. and Canada for the first or second generation of Latinos, or for any English-speakers who have learned Spanish. Camino and FAM are again joining forces for a common goal.

Still, God continues to create new avenues. Hundreds of young people attended a missions’ conference in Nicaragua last December. Camino-related seminaries and institutes send many graduates to serve overseas. Camino Global and FAM sponsored together the first Business-As-Missions consultation, with 65 key leaders from all Central America and the Caribbean. Successful Manarah seminars trained Latinos how to reach their Muslim neighbors. FAM International supports 49 missionary units in 21 countries in 6 continents; Camino Global has set a partnership with FAM, giving dual membership for missionaries in common projects. Camino missionaries actively encourage missions formation in the national churches where they minister. Yes, something great is happening!

Thirty years ago many Americans saw themselves alone in missionary work, and many Latinos believed we could not go. But we all continued to mature, and now see that we can and must go together—not as Latinos or Americans but as one team.

Let’s join to our Master and pray, “Father, that they may be one…”

Gustavo Soto serves as the Camino Director of Latin Mobilization, as well as the President of FAM International.

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