WHO ARE WE? (By Bob Schneider, BMW Missionary in Puerto Rico)
Slaves from Africa, Spaniards, Americans and the indigenous Taino Indians are the four people groups that constitute Puerto Rico's population. Four million people live on this mountainous island which measures only 30 miles wide and 100 miles long, the great majority dwelling on the coast. Technically it's a Two-Thirds World country, but you'd never know it. We have Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, Best Buy, Walgreens and many other stores, malls and restaurants. Puerto Rico is a beautiful country where 60% of the work force is employed by the government. For this reason, politics plays a very important role here. Along with some gorgeous beaches we also boast the only rain forest in the United States - right in our backyard!
Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They have U.S. passports and pay Social Security, but they are not allowed to vote in American elections. Half of all native Puerto Ricans live in the United States. There is a constant flow back and forth to the mainland as they go to visit family, take a vacation or come back to retire in Puerto Rico.
Because they are U.S. citizens and because there is such a tight connection with the States, American missionaries are very welcome here. Although a third of the population speaks English and many more understand it, it's best to learn Spanish if you want to have a Spanish-speaking ministry. There are, however, many English-speaking ministries on the island: radio stations, churches, schools and others-some of which minister in English exclusively. An example is the Evangelical School for the Deaf, which is only seven minutes from our home.
WHAT DO WE BELIEVE?
The "evangelical" culture is quite diverse in name and yet quite similar in faith and practice. There are a few fundamental Baptist churches and three or four Bible churches, as well as many congregations of varying sizes that preach the health-and-prosperity "gospel", embrace and enforce very restrictive rules for their adherents or have what we would view as unbiblical theology and practices - and in some cases, all of the above! As my neighbor said, "Worship is our purpose for coming together." Expounding and applying the Word of God is basically a lost art. Some Puerto Rican seminaries are now questioning the authorship of the Bible, and a well-known pastor in our town warned his congregation of 400 that some were in danger of losing their salvation since they had a small turnout at the blood drive.
WHAT IS OUR FUTURE?
Through prayer and strategic ministries, our goal is to train Puerto Ricans for life and ministry. Our vision is to employ a catalytic approach, establishing a mother church and then training and sending out others from here. In order to realize this vision we need workers for the ministries listed below - workers who love people and are willing to serve them. Life is indeed for service, and service can be costly.
Would you also do me a favor? Would you take just a moment now and ask God to raise up workers for the harvest in Puerto Rico and to save souls and bless His people here? Thank you.