This is the title of a concise history of Latin America.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of teaching a class on Latin American History to the Latin Link Stride orientation group. They are an incredibly engaged and intelligent group having already had experience and deep sense of God’s hand on their lives.
After I had explained the Conquistadores motivation and activity in coming to Latin America, one of the group asked “how do we share the Gospel with indigenous people who have been so oppressed by Christians. This led to a discussion on attitudes and activities of missionaries in Latin America which didn’t come to many conclusions but which was sobering in its content and context.
This led me to further reflect on the certainty and uncertainty of our witness. We are sure of the Gospel which has saved us and which engages us in the establishment of God’s kingdom upon the earth but the uncertainty of what it means for other people.
Latin America was ravaged by people on a mission. Christopher Columbus or Cristobal Colon believed he was claiming land for God (and Spain). He said that he was traveling in the name of the Holy Trinity. Fransisco Pizarro took priests on his conquering mission to subjugate the Inca and by subterfuge and just down-right lies he captured and executed the Inca himself. He was convinced he was doing the right thing.
We may not use any of these under-hand methods but we need to be very aware of how our missionary motivation is always contaminated by sinfulness. This is a message as much for missionaries as it is for politicians who claim to want to make peace and protect their citizens.