The United States of America
The US gets an honorable mention in our series because the population of people that identify as Latino in the States actually far exceeds many Latin American countries. The US has 47 million Latino citizens. This does not included holders of green cards or work visas, or illegals. The citizenry that identifies as Latino is a large enough number, however the Pew Research Center places the total number of Latinos in the US around 56.5 million.
Though the US is not considered a Latin American country, there are indeed some very deep roots in the Latin culture. Florida was ceded by Spain in 1819, Texas was ceded by Mexico in 1845, and what would later be the states of California, New Mexico, Arizona would either be ceded by Mexico or purchased from Mexico by the US in the years of 1848 and 1853. So certain portions of our country have very strong ties to the Latin American world.
There is a very strong Latin influence on our country. The key components of our cultural influence are that we have large portions of US territory coming from Latin America, Mexico being our southern neighbor, and every year many more immigrants are coming to the US from Latin American countries. By and in large most Latinos in the US claim Mexico as their country of origin, with Puerto Rico and Cuba coming in second and third. This Latino influence can be seen in almost every aspect of the cultural landscape.
- Cuisine: Your town probably has a Mexican restaurant, McDonalds and other fast food chains have burritos, and did you know that salsa has surpassed ketchup in sales?
- Sports: Baseball and basketball has had their share of Latino stars. Soccer is also the second fastest growing sport in the US.
- The Arts: Pop and rap music has many Latino artists, and there are many Latino stars in Hollywood.
The Spiritual Need: There is a tremendous spiritual need among the Latino population of the US. Many churches have been started, but not nearly enough. Most first generation Latinos are will be Roman Catholic, and many Roman Catholic congregations have seen a boom in the attendance at Mass because of this. There are many, though, who are coming to Christ, and their lives have been changed.
What we can do:
- Pray that more laborers would be raised up for this field of service. We do need more churches planted and ministries started to reach this people group. Latinos make up 17.6% of the US population.
- Provide material in Spanish. You might not have a Spanish ministry in your church but youcould still distribute tracts and Bibles to those in your area.
- Be a friend. The fact is that many Latino immigrants feel marginalized. As an American living in a foreign country I understand. Your church could offer an ESL class (English as a Second Language). Not only this would offer our Latino neighbors a great service, but it would provide contacts for the church people, offering opportunities to serve, build friendships, and share the Gospel with them.