The urban poor. In North America, they usually live in the decaying hearts of major cities; in Latin America, they live in huge slums that ring or even permeate the major cities. Churches have a great role to play and are well positioned to do so. Pray for the light of Jesus to shine through Christian ministry, effecting urban renewal with a reduction in crime, violence and substance abuse and a growth in education, employment and, most importantly, the winning of lives into the Kingdom.
Upper and upper-middle classes. These tend to be less evangelical, often wearing their liberal Protestant or Catholic sensibilities quite lightly. In many cases, even these are intellectually atheist or Marxist but make a show of religion as a social networking mechanism. Specific strategies are needed to reach these influential classes.
Whole regions of some countries are far less evangelized than the rest of the country, such as Quebec Province in Canada, the northeastern states and Amazonia in Brazil, some of Mexico's states as well as entire nations such as French Guyana.
Students in the universities. In North America, this means an opportunity to reach out to students from nearly every nation on earth, many from unevangelized backgrounds. Throughout the Americas, it is a chance to reach nationals for Jesus and to disciple young believers into Christian leaders. Cru and Navigators have extensive ministries to campuses, and IFES has well-established work in the majority of countries, with younger movements in others. Pray for all agencies concentrating on this strategic sector of the community. A clear, radiant, evangelical student witness in every university is a key target for prayer.
Amerindian peoples. Their populations range from less than 1% (Brazil, Argentina, North America), to nearly 50% (Peru 45%, Guatemala 40%), to higher (Bolivia 55%). In most of the smaller tribes there are Bible translation and church-planting ministries. However, among some tribes in Colombia, Venezuela and parts of Brazil and Mexico, various factors prevent the effective establishment of an ongoing work. These include historic resentment toward centuries of maltreatment, geographic inaccessibility, government restrictions, anti-Christian anthropologists and the terrorization of local peoples by narcotics gangs and economic exploiters. The total population of unreached is relatively small, probably not exceeding one million, but the number of tribes is many. Amerindian leaders actively use the international media to expose their plight and to gain recognition of their cultural, political and land-ownership rights. Pray for justice where they have been denied such. Pray for Christians wishing to reach them to be trained in missiology and anthropology so as to be more sensitive and astute in how best to express the good news to them.
Immigrant communities from all over the world. Nearly every significant culture has a migrant community in the Americas. For special mention:
- Chinese - over four million all over the Americas. The one million in Latin America are less reached. Their numbers are being augmented by immigrants, especially from Mainland China. The latter need specialized ministry in order to reach them.
- Japanese - around three million with communities in Brazil (1.4m), USA (1.2m) and Peru.
- Muslims - mainly Arabs in Latin America, but increasing in numbers throughout the Americas via immigration from the Middle East. There are also South Asian Muslims in the Anglophone countries and Javanese Muslims in Suriname. Brazil is especially seeing Muslim growth. Events of the 21st Century have brought focus on these peoples and increased outreach to them. Many Arabs in Latin America are Christian and could be instrumental in reaching Muslims or enabling Latin Americans to do so.
The Jews of the southern part of Latin America - one of the least-evangelized major concentrations of their people in the world.
The Romani (Gypsies) - present, but usually unrecognized and often undetected in most Latin American countries, and numbering over one million. They often remain deliberately incognito in order to avoid marginalization in society, but they have notable needs in terms of education and health, and especially need to be reached with the gospel.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.