I (Maria) was planning on sitting down to write a very long post about the spiritual condition of Latin America. I had in mind to share some of my observations as I talk to people, visit places, hear conversations, and see things around me. Having grown up in a Roman Catholic-superstitious-latino-culture enables me to see that there is very little that has changed in Latin America in the past three decades. Maybe in the past three centuries.
For the most part the Roman Catholic religion is practiced the same way throughout Latin America. I do notice a few differences from country to country and even from person to person. Or maybe I should call them variations of the same thing as different countries, and people, add their own flavor to their beliefs based on past traditions and cultural background. It reminds of how all latinos eat rice and beans, yet every single plate of rice and beans that I’ve tasted in a latino home has always been different depending on the country represented. My mother would say of this, “it is the same dog with a different collar”.
For the most part when you ask a latino what religion do they practice they will say, “I am a Christian” or “I am a Catholic”. This is not to say that they use each word separately with a different meaning. No. For most of the people living in Latin America being Catholic and being a Christian is all the same. You cannot be a Catholic without being a Christian and you cannot be a Christian without being a Catholic. And to be a Catholic/Christian, for the most part means an individual, misconstructed, poorly interpreted, folklore filled, version of Christianity.
So I won’t bore with all of my observations. (Although, I know I will be writing more about it as I progress in my discovery of what we’re getting ourselves into.) I found this piece of news article on the web that is a perfect example of what I am trying to describe to you. Recorded in the article below are the beliefs of one man, one national leader: Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. This is his personal interpretation of Christianity. Sadly, this is same interpretation of the vast majority of people throughout Latin America.
Here is the link to the article: Hugo Chavez looks to God as cancer clouds future
The sad reality is that Venezuela is not alone. Latin America suffers greatly because of their poor understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Take a look at these pictures of billboards that are plastered all over Nicaragua. Socialism equated to Christianity.
I am saddened by a lot of the things that I’ve seen and heard. The times that I’ve mentioned God or Jesus in conversations to the people in either Costa Rica or Nicaragua I’ve never once been rejected nor stopped. In fact, they always seem to be open and okay to talk about it. I had a short conversation about God and eternal hope with one of the ladies at the hotel where we staying in Nicaragua. She was open and willing to talk. The same thing happened with the bus driver on the way to Matagalpa on our first day there. He wanted to talk about God. He engaged in the conversation. Yet, I am sad to say that a lot of what he said was in error. And I only wished that we had more time there. To share. To teach. To tell them the truth.
In the meantime, we look for ways to do that here in Costa Rica.–Maria