Latin American Pastors Pass Torch to Young Leaders

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From small indigenous churches in the mountains of Mexico, to megachurches and public marches in capital cities, Latin America's evangelical Christians are more visible and active than ever.

They've grown from 1 percent of the population in 1900 to nearly 17 percent today. But many of the leaders behind that growth, like well-known radio and TV evangelist Hermano Pablo, have recently passed on.

A new generation of leaders is taking over but can they sustain the same high level of growth?

Some prominent pastors and evangelists recently met with young, emerging church leaders in Miami for the "Passing the Torch" event organized by the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association.

"What will the gravestone say? What will our epitaph be when you and I leave this world?" Costa Rican Pastor Hugo Solis asked.

"'Here, Pastor Hugo Solis rests in peace -- and in the church, we all rest in peace.' Is that what it will say?" he continued. "Or are we going to make a difference? Are we going to leave something in the heart of the people?"

Pastor Solis' son Esteban then spoke of his own generation's ambition.

"A powerful generation is one that knows how to honor all that God has already done, but isn't satisfied and wants to keep on struggling to see what God still can do," he said.

Andrew Palau, another next generation leader, told CBN News that it's important to continue the focus of seasoned leaders like his father, evangelist Luis Palau.

"When I think of my parents, the first passing of the torch that was in their minds was the passing of the good news to the next generation," he said. "Dad had a message he preached a thousand times and the title was 'God has no grandchildren.'"

But passing the torch also means an overlap, running alongside emerging leaders.

"Now it's one thing to carry the torch to a certain point, and say, 'Take it and go on alone.' And it's another thing to do what they do in the Olympics," Spain Pastor Enrique Montenegro said.

"One runner comes and runs alongside the next one, running together, then hands over the torch so that the new runner will continue with even greater speed," he explained.

Just how that leadership is passed to the next generation may well determine whether Latin America's spiritual revival will continue to grow.

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Stan Jeter

Stan Jeter

CBN News Senior Producer

CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.