Missions in MexicoLearn about the rich history of Mexico
Mexico has a rich and diverse history. It is a beautiful and complex culture. Its history is equally complex. In this short article, the goal is to give a broad overview of missions in Mexico. How was the Gospel introduced to this beautiful country? How has it grown since that introduction?
Beginnings in Mexico
In 1519, Hernan Cortez, along with his conquistadores and a few priests landed on the shores of Veracruz. By the year 1521, they had conquered and marched all the way to what is now known as Mexico City, previously the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. Along the way, large masses of indigenous people were forced into mass baptisms at the point of the sword. These high numbers of converts were reported back to Spain and Catholicism grew rapidly. The Catholic Church strategically chose religious sites to build their churches on top of those sites. Again, the Catholic Church grew rapidly. However, as the ole adage goes, “He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still, which he may adhere to, yet disown, for reasons to himself best known,” seems applicable to Mexican history. Forced faith creates false followers adding to the complexity.
Spanish and Catholic Conquest
Spain conquered Mexico. As a conquered country with a foreign religion forced upon them it is safe to say the sincerity of those conversions was questionable. The formal language was Spanish and the official religion was Catholicism. The indigenous and the Spaniards began to inter-marry and a new complex culture evolved. This new culture was governed by three primary institutions:
- the Roman Catholic Church
- a standing military
- and lastly the Spanish monarchy, that gave oversight to the other two institutions.
The First Protestant Missionaries
Because of the pervasive nature of the Catholic church, the mindset of the rest of the world toward Mexico considered it a ‘reached Christian country.’ Due to that mindset, it was overlooked for centuries. Not until 1818, when a Scottish man named James Thompson, became the first Protestant missionary to Latin America. He took three journeys to various Spanish speaking countries, Mexico, being one of them. He shared the Good News and sold Bibles. 70 years later, the First General Assembly of Evangelical Missionaries met in Mexico City, representing 12 denominations Ninety-five missionaries and one Mexican pastor attended.
In 1934, a Nicaraguan pastor-theologian, named Rolando Edgardo Gutiérrez-Cortés moved from Nicaragua to Mexico. The move came directly after his infant daughter died. Rolando left his mark on the immerging church of his day. He was the President of the National Baptist Convention as well as the Latin American Theological Fraternity. In 1957, Operation Mobilization, was incorporated in Mexico City and in 50 other countries around the world. They dedicated themselves to evangelism and to the distribution of Christian literature.
Thanks to the seeds planted and the foundations laid by these individuals and organizations the last three decades of the twentieth century saw expediential growth. This is seen in this article in Anthropological Quarterly, September 2005.
The census conducted in 2010 shows that between 2005 and 2010, 10 million people declared a different religion other than Catholicism. Now, more than ever before Mexicans are responding to the Gospel and experiencing true repentance and salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is still much work to be done. The heart is desperately wicked, some would say complex. The Great Commission isn’t about conquering complex kingdoms, it is about expanding God’s Kingdom – that seems pretty clear and straightforward. Let’s be part of what God is doing in Mexico.