|Republic of Paraguay|
Area 406,752 sq.km. Landlocked nation between Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. The Paraguay River divides the more fertile and developed east from the forests, marshes and ranches of the sparsely populated Gran Chaco.
Estimated national population for 2001 is 6.3 million.
Capital Asuncion 1,100,000. Urbanites 55%.
One of the most homogenous populations of South America.
Spanish/Guaraní-speaking 94%. Of mixed Spanish and Guaraní descent. About 8% speak only Guaraní.
Amerindian peoples 1.4%. Mainly in the sparsely populated Chaco. 18 groups, largest: Chulupé/ Nivacleño 13,000; Lengua 10,000; Pai Tavytera 10,000.
Immigrant minorities 4.6%. German 90,000; Brazilian 50,000; Italian 33,000; Ukrainian 33,000; Japanese 15,000; Chinese 10,000; Korean 10,000; Lebanese 10,000.
Literacy Officially 90%, but much of it minimal. Official languages Spanish, Guaraní. The latter is understood by 90% of the population. All languages 21. Languages with Scripture 5Bi 6NT 5por 6w.i.p.
Few natural resources besides agriculture and hydro-electric power. Landlocked status and lack of mineral resources hinders development. Large-scale hydro-electric projects are boosting the economy, but the cycle of poverty continues.Unemployment 9.8%. HDI 0.730; 84th/174. Public debt 14.6% of GNP. Income/person $2,000 (6.3% of USA).
Independent from Spain in 1811. Devastating wars with surrounding nations in 1864-70 and 1932-35. Corrupt military dictatorship 1954-89. Since then economic and democratic reforms have slowly reintegrated Paraguay into the world's political and trade network.
Complete separation of Church and State and equality before the law of all religious bodies was declared in 1992, but the Catholic Church still wields significant political and social power.
1 Paraguay still suffers the effects of two centuries of tyranny, war and government incompetence. Occasional internal political strife and a lack of strong moral leadership hinder the country's progress. Pray that godly men would emerge from this Christianized nation to lead with wisdom and uprightness.
2 The Roman Catholic Church has long dominated the spiritual and political life of Paraguay. Although it speaks out against immorality and corruption, there is also much superstitious traditionalism, strong devotion to Mary, and occult-related bondage to many pre-Christian deities and customs. These practices keep millions from liberty in the Lord Jesus and must be broken by prayer. Only a minority of committed Christians are from the Spanish-Guaraní Mestizo majority. Paraguay has never had a true spiritual awakening.
3 Most of Paraguay's Protestants are German-speaking Mennonites and Lutherans, Ukrainian Baptists and Pentecostals and Korean Presbyterians. These immigrant communities are often culturally isolated from the mainstream of national life, and therefore lack outward vision. Nominalism is also a common problem pray that these communities might experience a renewal of spiritual vigour and the birth of a vision for a transformed Paraguay.
4 Evangelical church growth continued through the 1990s, with the majority of growth coming through Mennonite, Pentecostal and Independent churches. Most of these groups have entered Paraguay from Brazil and Argentina, and have retained their characteristic zeal and initiative. Unfortunately, there is need for Biblical input on such issues as fellowship with other Christian groups, attitudes towards wealth, and leadership models. Pray that all of these groups might submit their beliefs and practices to Scripture.
a) Leadership development an essential ministry. Bible Colleges for most of the Protestant denominations and an Evangelical University provide improved training for the growing number of theological students.
d) The impartation of a missionary vision to the Church the formation of a National Committee for Missions (CONAMI) was a solid first step. Pray that Paraguayans may see themselves as responsible for, and capable of, the evangelization of their country.
6 Work among the Indian minority peoples has been fruitful. Many have become Christians through the work of SAMS among the Chorote, Sanapana, Toba, Angaite and Lengua; NTM with the Aché, Angaité, Ayoré, Avá, Chamacoco, Lengua, Manjui; the Mennonites among the Lengua and Chulupé; and Light to the Indians among the Lengua, Chulupé and Guaraní in the southeast. Various development projects, and the provision of education, the Scriptures and biblical training help many new churches to become viable and self-sufficient. Pray for the young churches as they adapt to the national culture.
7 Missionary help is needed, and there is an open door for those who can serve the Paraguayan brethren and strengthen national leadership. The main ministries needing personnel are church planting, leadership training and Bible translation. Rural areas are in need of and responsive to aid and development work, and there are over 400 villages in the interior without any evangelical witness. The largest agencies are NTM (75 workers), AoG (56), IMB-SBC (41), Light to the Indians (40), SAMS (26) and SIM (25).
b) Bible translation. The Guaraní Bible was completed in 1996, as well as two other indigenous New Testaments. Four more translations are in progress. Pray for the safe completion of these projects and accompanying literacy programmes.
d) Radio is an increasingly influential and fruitful ministry. HCJB broadcasts 10 hrs/wk in German and nearly 10 hrs/day in Spanish. TWR's national partner translates programmes in Guaraní for airing on local radio. IBRA also broadcasts through nine local radio stations.
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