to Animistic People in Urban Mexico by R. Chadd Schroeder
It has been shown that most people living in urban Mexico have an animistic
worldview. Although often masked by Christian practices and structures,
their understanding of God, spiritual powers and the human response reflect
this world view. Millions live enslaved to Satan and his dominion as they
struggle with fear and with the need to manipulate the spiritual powers in
order to assure themselves of protection, health and success. It has also
been shown that the Gospel message of the Kingdom of God provides an answer
for this slavery.
Aware of these truths, how should Christian missionaries minister to
Mexicans in this context? This paper will describe a beginning model for
reconciling urban Mexicans to Christ, and for nurturing them to maturity.
The specific context of this model is a new church planting ministry in
Guadalajara, Mexico. The first section will describe the importance of a
balanced approach to ministry. The second section will outline and briefly
describe a Kingdom Growth Channel for the attraction, evangelization, and
nurture of animistic people in this context. This paper is intended to be
the third part of an integrated project describing theological,
anthropological and ministerial tools for evangelizing people in urban
A Three-Pronged Approach
In the development of a model for ministering to animistic people, it is
important to recognize that three essential encounters must take place.
Charles Kraft suggests that this “three-pronged approach to our witness” is
seen as Jesus battles Satan in the New Testament record. He confronts Satan
concerning power, commitment and truth. Each of these encounters deal with a
specific need and help move people to a desired result in their walk with
God. Kraft explains each of the three and says: “Our missionary witness
needs to use all three encounters together, not separately. . .”
Truth Encounters. This encounter is concerned with understanding and
challenging the world view of the person. Teaching is the vehicle of this
encounter as the mind and the will are exercised and challenged. Faulty
understandings are confronted with biblical truth. This teaching is not just
concerned with the transfer of information, but instead is designed to
challenge the animistic beliefs. Some important areas of teaching should
include: the Kingdom of God and the dominion of Satan; the place and role of
God; motivations for seeking deity; role of sin and salvation; the nature of
the human/Divine relationship. Kraft explains that truth encounters “provide
the context within which the other encounters take place and can be
Power Encounters. This encounter is concerned with freedom from the enemy’s
captivity. Satan uses many things to keep people from commitment to God and
truth. Jesus destroyed the works of Satan and gave people freedom from
sickness, disease and demonic possession. This oftentimes allowed people to
consider truth and to make commitment to God. In this power encounter,
people receive the needed emotional freedom to move forward with God. The
vehicle of this encounter is spiritual warfare and prayer. Kraft also shows
that this power encounter affects not only the one who is freed, but also
the observer whose attention is attracted and begins to trust God. In this
sense, the transformed life of a Christian is a type of power encounter in
that it plays the same role of attracting and leading people to trust in
Commitment Encounters. This encounter is concerned with relationship with
Jesus Christ and the rescuing of people from wrong commitments. These
encounters aim to help people commit to Jesus Christ and a growing
relationship to God, His people and His mission. The primary vehicle of this
encounter is witness as people are challenged to respond to the new
understanding and freedom that have been obtained in the other encounters.
One example of this commitment encounter would be the decision to trust in
God’s power for healing and protection instead of in animistic
As has been suggested, each of these encounters work together with the other
two as people move along in their relationship and growth with Jesus Christ:
encountering truth, experiencing freedom, and entering into deeper levels of
commitment. These three encounters should be the basis for a ministry model.
A Process: The Kingdom Growth Channel
A team of Christian missionaries live and have contact with people in
western Guadalajara who have an animistic world view. They meet regularly
with a core group of believers. These meetings usually consist of a Sunday
worship assembly and small group meetings during the week. A channel is
envisioned to provide steps by which unbelievers are attracted, evangelized,
reconciled and nurtured in their growth in the Kingdom of God. The following
steps describe this developing channel.
1. The Christians are constantly sowing seeds and developing relationships
with pre-Christian friends and contacts. As relationship is built with these
people, the Christian gives testimony to God’s freeing work in his own life
explaining how biblical truth affects his world view. This, along with other
ministry and prayer, serve as beginning encounters with truth and power.
Evangelistic prayer and follow-up provide tremendous opportunities for God
to demonstrate His love and power toward the pre-Christian. An invitation is
given to find out more about Jesus by attending a congregational assembly or
a small group meeting. This commitment encounter challenges the hearer to
respond to what he has experienced by taking a step to experience more.
2. The pre-Christian attends the small group meeting or congregational
assembly. At this meeting, he sees and hears testimony of God’s freeing and
transforming work in the lives of people (power encounter). He hears
challenges to his world view as truth is proclaimed and discussed (truth
encounter). After this experience, the person is offered a systematic Gospel
presentation for he and his family (commitment encounter).
3. During the following weeks, the person (preferably with his family)
encounters truth in the Gospel presentation. These studies are typically
offered by an evangelist with specific application to an animistic world
view: a) God and His world; b) Seeking God; c) Jesus, your Friend; d) Jesus,
your Lord; e) Jesus, your Savior; f) the Good News of the Holy Spirit; g)
the Good News of the Christian Community. During this seven week truth
encounter, the person is included by and receives ministry from a small
group. He continues to hear testimony, experience the transformed lives of
young Christians and receive encouragement and prayer. Each week, he faces
commitment encounters as he is challenged to respond to the truth and power
he is experiencing. During this seven week study, he will face the decision
to align himself with Christ and His Kingdom putting on Christ in baptism.
This experience happens in a small group context as his role in the
Christian community and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is emphasized.
4. The small group community is the context for the facilitation of the
young Christian’s continued nurture and equipping. In this group, he is
joined with other Christians in Spiritual warfare, prayer and helping
relationships. The shepherd leader of this group helps him find his place in
the body and introduces him to the equipping system which is made up of
self-studies, weekly classes and small group activities.
5. Two equipping classes will deal specifically with the animistic
worldview: a) a ten week study of the Kingdom of God which will focus on
Kingdom Theology and the implications for life in an animistic context; and
b) Spiritual Warfare Weekend which will provide clear teaching concerning
status in Christ, the dominion of Satan and steps to freedom in Christ.
This paper has described the foundations of a model for attracting,
evangelizing, reconciling, and nurturing people in urban Mexico. Encounters
with truth, power and commitment should be emphasized as the above model is
developed, tested and adapted to help people in this animistic context.
All pages Copyright ©2002 by
Gailyn Van Rheenen..
If you wish to copy or in any other way reproduce or distribute this
information, please request permission by contacting
Gailyn Van Rheenen.