Saturday, July 14, 2012

The city across the river: Montevideo

So, I've been falling behind on my initiative. It's been difficult to do with end meetings, spending time with readers, enjoying our last few weeks, helping LST teams, and holding LST parties.  BUt, God is doing amazing things...

Recently, we took a trip with Megan's mom and sister to Montevideo, Uruguay. Montevideo is like Buenos Aires, but on a smaller scale. As friends there tell us, Uruguay built it first (their obelisk, their bookstore, etc), but Buenos Aires builds it bigger and more lavishly.

Uruguay, however, has a hometown feel. The city has about 1.5 million people, but it seems much smaller. The city is built around a natural bay where the Rio de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean. It has a number of beaches, and we were able to sit and watch the sun go down over the city.
The cab drivers were all willing to practice their spanish with us, the vendors were very kind and helpful (not at all frustrated by foreigners like they can be in Buenos Aires), and the city exudes a quite charm. If you like the fast-paced, hustle and bustle of large city life, Montevideo is not for you. However, if you like a charming mix of modern and colonial architecture, beautiful artwork, and an unpretentious charming "small town" with all the advantages of a large city, then Montevideo is for you! We enjoyed our time there.

Uruguay is an interesting place. Politically, they tend to be a little more stable. They value democracy, and tend to shy away from radical changes. They intentionally built the separation of church and state into their political ideologies. Interesting, Uruguay is the most atheistic country in South America (and in many places in the world.) Only 60-65% of the people believe in God; many people simply don't worry about God or see how he plays into their daily lives. Soccer is more of a religion than anything else! (The first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930 in a stadium in the center of Montevideo.)

Montevideo is in need of more churches. There are a few Churches of Christ in the city, but they tend to not work together or have much relationship together. (We didn't want to dig too deeply into the story.) Most of the churches (like in many place) seem content to just do church and not to be overly involved with their community.

What plans might God have in store for the people of Uruguay? What might God be doing in the city in the future? What stores are waiting to be told?

That is how we want to look at these fields. There is so much work to be done here in South America. Although the statistics claim that "most of the people are Christian," most do not truly know the saving power of Jesus or understand who he is and what difference he can make in their lives. So many are simply caught up in the rituals of baptism/confirmation/eucharist/etc, but rarely (and we do mean RARELY) do they go to mass; confession is rare; men hardly ever step into the church building except when getting married or buried (or when family members are doing the same.) We need to look for ways to connect men to church and make a difference in our community.

I truly believe the fields here are ripe for the harvest. We meet a number of people who are hungering for something more (here is often tends to be later in their young adult life, late-twenties or early thirties.) God does amazing things here, and it has been great to see how God is working.

Pray for those who are working in these fields. Get connected to Great Cities Ministry (formerly Continent of Great Cities,, Missions Resource Network ( Ask Great Cities for a prayer guide for their missionaries. Or we can give you a list of people that we know are working in South America. Keep these wonderful, beautiful efforts and amazing people in your prayers. Pray for the churches of South America, and pray for those who don't yet know the salvific grace of Jesus.

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