What results should you expect when the Gospel takes root? Or, in other words, how is your neighborhood, city or nation different because of Pentecost? This is the “Pentecost question.”
Since 1995 I’ve had the privilege of living in Managua, Nicaragua. My ministry has been to walk alongside of the evangelical (i.e. “Protestant”) church in Central America.
The evangelical church in the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was birthed through the work of U.S. missionaries around 1900. In the last three decades the number of evangelicals has grown exponentially. As many as one out of every four Nicaraguans currently claims a “born again” experience.
Yet many Nicaraguan evangelicals are beginning to ask the “Pentecost question.” In some respects there are clear and positive responses:
- Superstitious allegiances to statues of Mary and the saints have been discarded.
- Addictions to alcohol have been overcome.
- Destructive cultural patterns such as male marital unfaithfulness have been abandoned.
There’s little doubt that many individuals and families have changed because the Gospel has taken root in their lives.
But a growing number of Nicaraguan evangelicals are beginning to ask if these are sufficient answers to the “Pentecost question.” They’re considering hard questions such as these:
- Does Pentecost compel us to address local and global issues of injustice?
- Should the Gospel bring visible changes in the self-serving behavior of governmental and business leaders?
- Is it enough that the church is a refuge from society or should it also manifest the presence of Jesus in places where people are most hurt and broken?
- Can a church that is splintered between many denominations in the same neighborhood or city be an authentic witness?
For starters, how would you answer the “Pentecost question” for your neighborhood, city or nation? Is this the right question to ask?