And hidden in plain sight are a variety of people groups: Zapoteca, Mixteca, Triqui and more. People who have held onto their languages and worldviews in spite of constant pressures to assimilate.
As one missionary here said, “The children all say they don’t speak Triqui. But then they grow up and it’s all they speak in their homes.”
Last week, I was part of a team that visited a few dedicated missionaries who are trying to learn the languages and understand the cultures of these people. Their goal is to establish churches among them that can be nurtured to maturity. It’s long, hard work, made all the harder by the number of well-meaning believers who think it’s a waste.
“They all speak Spanish,” many people say. Baja California is dotted with evangelical churches, blanketed with evangelical radio stations and littered with evangelical tracts. Why spend years learning the language of the Triquis and understanding how they think?
Well, for one thing, the Bible tells us to. Our command is to make disciples of all nations – literally, every ethnic group. And as time-consuming and energy-draining and spiritually exhausting as it is, it’s practical. People learn better, and are able to truly be disciples, when they hear His Word in their own language, made clear in the context of how they understand the world.
Think of it this way. I know la Llanterna is not where you buy lanterns. La Farmacia doesn’t have seeds and fertilizer. And la Ferreteria most definitely is not a place that sells ferrets. But that’s where my mind goes first, because English is my heart language.
And there’s more. You make a positive impression on me if you take the time to learn my language, and understand the way I think. I may not comprehend at first that this is the love of Christ, but I can see that you care. In time, I can see that God loves me enough to make His Word clear to me.
In a way, that’s what Christ did. He left His home, lived among us, and died to make this eternal, abundant life available to all. He came to us – to each of us. The only thing He asks us to do is spread His good news – the outpouring of His love – to all the earth.
That’s why our team went to Baja California. The photos and stories we gathered will inspire people to pray, to give, to go – not only in the USA, but across Latin America, as well as in Canada and Europe and beyond. We also encouraged the missionaries. Our presence demonstrated to them that their work is important.
We could not do this without you. Your prayers, your gifts and your encouragement mean a great deal to us. Thank you.