Paraguay
Republic of Paraguay
September 12
Americas


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GEOGRAPHY

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.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 5,496,453 +2.63% 14 per sq. km
2010 6,980,320 +2.35% 17 per sq. km
2025 9,355,207 +1.77% 23 per sq. km

Estimated national population for 2001 is 6.3 million.

Capital Asuncion 1,100,000. Urbanites 55%.

PEOPLES

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.

ECONOMY

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).

POLITICS

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.

RELIGION

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.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 97.95 5,383,776 +2.6%
non-Religious 1.00 54,965 +6.0%
Traditional ethnic 0.62 34,078 +2.0%
Buddhist/Chinese 0.23 12,642 +1.3%
Baha'i 0.10 5,496 +4.8%
Jewish 0.05 2,748 -1.1%
Muslim 0.05 2,748 +7.3%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 67 4.69 258 +3.1%
Independent 26 3.65 201 +8.0%
Anglican 1 0.29 16 +2.7%
Catholic 1 84.98 4,671 +1.8%
Orthodox 3 0.17 10 +1.9%
Marginal 2 0.94 50 +13.5%
Unaffiliated   3.23 177 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 350 2,330,000 4,671,000
El Pueblo de Dios I 200 42,857 150,000
Mennonite groups [12] P 135 25,000 62,000
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 141 21,164 40,000
Assemblies of God P 70 12,454 37,000
Baptist Convention P 106 7,981 19,000
Other Pentecostal [13] P 140 7,000 17,500
Anglican A 36 6,400 16,000
Congregation of P I 197 9,850 15,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 39 7,788 14,000
Ch of God (Cleveland) P 146 7,618 14,000
Ev Miss Assemb of God P 35 6,250 13,000
Grace and Glory P 61 5,500 11,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 86 6,883 10,000
Ev Ch of the River Plate (Lut) P 52 4,192 7,000
Evangelical Lutheran P 75 5,000 6,200
Assoc of United Christians P 13 2,000 6,000
Christian Brethren P 72 2,041 6,000
Slavic Baptist P 33 3,000 4,500
Other denoms [60]   541 38,000 85,500
Total Christians [102]   2,528 2,551,000 5,205,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 4.8 266 +3.8%
Charismatic 4.5 247 +3.7%
  Pentecostal 2.4 133 +4.6%

Missionaries from Paraguay
P,I,A 106 in 14 agencies to 13 countries: Chile 46, Paraguay 18, Ecuador 17.

Missionaries to Paraguay
P,I,A 606 in 83 agencies from 25 countries: USA 249, Brazil 85, Korea 78, Germany 46, Canada 32.



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Challenges for Prayer

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.

5 Evangelical Christian leaders increasingly work together to promote large evangelistic crusades and the evangelization of the country. The great needs in prayer are:

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.

b) A lifestyle set by leaders as an example to their flocks marked by holy living, prayer, right use of Scripture, and bold evangelism.

c) Unity in the church. An association of pastors is working to promote united strategies for the country's evangelization and for the care of pastors of small or isolated churches.

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).

8 Christian help ministries:

a) The Bible Society. Extensive Scripture distribution has had great impact, but this has been blunted by limited functional literacy, particularly among the Amerindians.

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.

c) GRN has made recordings in 15 languages or dialects. Pray for their wise use.

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.

e) The JESUS film is used in German, Guaraní, Plautdietsch and Spanish.

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