As I sit here in my office at the Baptist Building in Cary, a few days after returning from the first international mission trip by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries, I feel odd. At this time last week I was prayerwalking in a villa, or a shanty town as we would call them in English, and inviting people to a neighborhood block party that we were hosting later that week in the area. I was continually remembering the words of our missionary, Melissa, before we left the car, “Keep in mind: this is someone’s home.”
“Home” in this Buenos Aires barrio, or neighborhood, was a cinderblock structure that was approximately 10×20 square feet and was constructed on land the Argentine government was testing because it had previously held stables for the horses at the local race track. Lately the government has been concerned that animal dung and urine has contaminated the soil. However, it has not stopped the pace of more structures being built.
The prayer walking team of five women from North Carolina and our IMB missionary, Melissa, arrived in the villa that morning accompanied by Young-Jae, a fellow IMB missionary in Buenos Aires, who, along with his wife, Me-Wa, work alongside Melissa and her husband, Mark, to plant churches in the San Isidro area of Buenos Aires. The remainder of our North Carolina group was with Mark sharing Christ in English as a Second Language classes in the downtown area of Martinez.
While Buenos Aires is thought to be the most European of South American cities, the statistics of the city are staggering. The city of Buenos Aires boasts close to 14 million citizens, which is larger than the entire state of North Carolina which has approximately 9.2 million citizens. Buenos Aires has the widest avenue in the world, Avenida 9 de Julio, at 40 lanes on one street (which our mission team dangerously crossed once, and then once again when we discovered we were headed in the wrong direction). The city is filled with parks and countless numbers of apartment buildings. The citizens are into fashion and some of the friendliest people I have ever met.
However, they are lost. Of the approximately 14 million residents in la ciudad de Buenos Aires, our missionaries tell us roughly 4 percent, or 560,000 are followers of Jesus Christ. That means that 13,440,000 people are lost.
13,440,000 people are lost in the city of Buenos Aires alone.
Allow that number to soak in for a while.
That is approximately the same number as the combination of the populations of the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.
What a scary thought. That means in the city of Buenos Aires right now there are 13.4 million people who are waking up each morning without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Since September of last year, when we began planning this inaugural international mission trip through Embrace, people have asked, “Why Buenos Aires?”
With 13.4 million lost people in Buenos Aires, why not Buenos Aires?
In the coming blog posts, I hope to highlight what God did through our mission team and what He is still doing though our career missionaries in the Buenos Aires area.