The extent of the Christian church in Latin America is difficult to quantify due to its magnitude and the great mass of territory it covers. Equally complex, is the work that is needed around unity focused on the evangelistic purpose of the church: to be one so that the world may believe. But together with the GNE and the Luis Palau Association we are certain that God has given us Advance as a tool to fulfil his purpose as given in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then the end will come.” (NKJV). Thanks to our Lord’s faithfulness and the strength he gives us, we continue to work to bring Advance to all of Latin America, so that we may equip Latin evangelists to live in obedience to His calling.
Both virtually and in person, we at GNE have dedicated ourselves to promoting Advance in many Latin American countries and have seen the material received with open arms wherever it has been presented. We find it to be a great blessing, amongst other things, because it’s free, simple, intuitive and ready to be put into practice in communities of faith with diverse theological and organisational perspectives. This happens thanks to its Christ-centred pillars with which children of God can identify those determined to respond to Jesus’ call to save souls and make disciples throughout the world. At the same time, the group discipleship training approach strengthens the unity of the church because it is intimately connected to the relational value of the Latin community.
After two years of promoting the program in Latin America, we can summarise its impact in this simple line: Advance is an answer to the prayer of many for the necessity and urgency of an evangelistic equipping according to the reality of our countries.
We continue to thank God for what he was able to do through Advance even during the pandemic. Advance has grown strongly in what is a difficult period for the Latin church and has been key to keeping the flame of evangelism alive, whatever its expression. Many groups remained virtually connected and encouraged each other to continue being a light in the times of anxiety, distress and pain all around them. Even after the epidemiological alerts stopped, Advance became like an evangelistic alarm clock in the local churches, stirring up those who have the call, and awakening those who were passive. We have received testimonies about evangelism teams having been formed in local churches, and many congregations being mobilised to go out and preach in many different ways as a result of the Advance journey. Discipleship has not only been key to maintaining contact at times when it was not possible to meet physically, but has also been a catalyst for renewing the commitment to Jesus that many believers had put aside.
Linked to this, a recurring and positive comment from those journeying with Advance relates to the content of the material and the principles it upholds. They valued that the central focus should not be about evangelism techniques but should be concerned with working on the character of the evangelist in every Christian. The accountability proposed by Advance as a reflection of the Biblical mandate helps encourage commitment to the responsibility taken and creates fraternal bonds that lead to greater efforts and results. This goes along with the material inviting participants to focus on their role as proclaimers of a message in an integral way, to carry out an evangelistic lifestyle, and not to simply do an event in the calendar or make an isolated activity. Such a sum of effects is crucial in the life of every believer, and there are not many training materials or tools in Spanish that explore these areas deeply or that have a strong emphasis on evangelism, in a group format.
Another testimony is from February 2022, when we had the opportunity to visit several regions of Guatemala. We were pleasantly surprised to see all that God is doing with Advance in that country. When we were in the area of Huehuetenango, in Todo Santo region, we learned that Advance is given in the Mam language, since not everyone is able to communicate fluently in Spanish. This is unique because we hadn’t considered the possibility of Advance being carried out and having such an impact in places of difficult access with cultural and language barriers. We were also surprised by God when we learned that in Colombia a virtual space was created in the style of a TV program, in which the contents of Advance are addressed with guests, with interviews and different dynamics for young and old. All this is a clear reflection of the versatility of the Advance program and also of the multiple ways in which God can move to achieve His purposes.
In the Spanish speaking world, as far as we know, there are over 200 groups with more than 1500 evangelists engaged in Advance, and we’re certain that this will continue to grow. Churches, denominations, seminaries and ministries are adopting it and wanting to implement it, and so we can see that God is using it to continue extending His kingdom. We hope to see an explosion of Advance groups across the continent like never before in the time ahead, because this global movement of evangelists has undoubtedly been anointed by God for His glory and has the backing of the Holy Spirit.
Written by Jona Proietti
Jonatan is the Latin GNE Director of the Luis Palau Association and Advance Ambassador for Argentina and the wider Latin World. He works untiringly to raise up a network of evangelists in every Spanish speaking country and to celebrate and accelerate every expression of unity in the church. He also serves as the interpreter for Andrew Palau in all his Hispanic outreaches. He holds a degree in accounting and currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with his wife Florencia and his son Franco.