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What Impact are Immigrants Having on Americans Missions?

What Impact are Immigrants Having on Americans Missions?

Latino churches with immigrant congregations are working to support ministries in their home countries, and its work that is spreading to other congregations, but it’s also ministry that isn’t always easy.

Valentin Salamanca, a pastor who was overseeing a ministry in western El Salvador, had planted 26 churches in the country before he was kidnapped from his home in 2010. Seven hours later, Valentin was released, but his captors told him he had to deliver $6,000 in 24 hours.

He could only manage $500, but the captors let him live.

“Truly God save me,” he said.

Valentin had been part of an effort with his home church in in Los Angeles, which was being run by his son, Mario Salamanca. The church’s missions to El Salvador include serving the poor and spreading the gospel and sending money to help.

They’re not the only church to try to help their home country. In southwest Chicago, a church is trying to get more help for communities in Venezuela. Nigerians are trying to figure out how to donate to specific missionaries in the country.

“It’s a global phenomenon,” said Juan Martínez, a professor of Hispanic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. “The church is barely beginning to recognize it.” 

“Most church growth around the world will come from informal missionaries” like these, Martínez added.

Immigrants send more money abroad than private charities. In 2014, U.S. migrants sent more than $108 billion to developing countries, while private charities spent about $44 billion in poor countries.


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Publication date: July 17, 2017