In 1930, missionary Alice Luce (1873-1955) was ministering in Mexico. Here, she contemplated missions work to the unreached people in Mexico in light of Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8. Luce writes,
“Does there not seem to be a definite order here in which the Master intended His followers to carry on their work of witnessing? First they were to testify in Jerusalem—their home town. Next in order came Judea, which to us may represent our own country; then Samaria, their next-door neighbor, the country which lay contiguous to their own borders. Surely for us in the United States this represents Latin America, the vast, needy, neglected field lying to the south of us. If our ‘Samaria’ is to be evangelized before we proceed to the ‘uttermost parts of the earth,’ how great will be the condemnation of the church in this country for not obeying, for neglecting this field so close at home?”
In the decades since Luce wrote, the gospel has spread rapidly in the Latin America Caribbean (LAC) region, and national churches across LAC have begun sending missionaries to unreached people groups across the world. Indeed, as Luce envisioned, faithful ministry in this “Samaria” has borne fruit for the gospel both in the LAC region and beyond.
While success in bringing the gospel to the unreached continues, there remain hundreds of unreached people groups in LAC, reflecting a reality that Luce observed early in the 20th century:
“The great size of this field makes missionary work in it more difficult than in countries where people live close together. South America is twice the size of Europe, thrice the size of China, four times the size of India, and sixty times the size of Japan.”
Luce’s words hold true today. Thousands of people across LAC live in remote areas and are isolated from the gospel. Many of these indigenous tribes have never had the opportunity to hear the saving message of Jesus. Luce’s words continue to echo in the missions emphases across LAC as the gospel spreads in unprecedented ways: