Context: Central America is made up of seven densely populated countries with a combined population of more than 42 million. It includes some of the poorest countries in the world, but also has areas of rich natural resources. Many of the countries are characterized by a great disparity between the rich and the poor, with a large percentage of land and resources owned by only a small percentage of the population. The population includes many indigenous groups as well as a significant number of people of European or African descent.
Spanish is the official language throughout Central America, except in Belize, where English is spoken. People also speak many indigenous languages in rural areas. The majority of Central Americans are Catholic, but in many areas indigenous animistic religions coexist with Catholicism. In the last 60 years, the evangelical and Pentecostal Christian movements have made significant inroads. The K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church in Guatemala is one result of these movements.
EMM work: EMM relates to Mennonite churches in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The two largest of these churches are the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church (12,000 members) started by EMM workers in 1972, and the Honduras Mennonite Church, started in the 1950s.
All of the churches with which EMM relates have their own local and national leadership. EMM workers support these churches in their outreaches to meet the many spiritual and physical needs that are present in the area.
Workers are currently involved in planting a church among the Deaf in Orange Walk, Belize, and mentoring leaders within the Garifuna church in Belize. A couple is serving in La Ceiba, Honduras, working with children at risk and another couple is serving in the Los Pinares school in Tegucigalpa. A couple is serving with the K’ekchi’ in Guatemala in a business for transformation project with coffee farmers.
Vision: Plans are in place to strengthen the potential for short-term mission groups to serve with the local churches in Central America. Discussions are taking place regarding the formation of a school of discipleship and missions for the churches in Central America.
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