Hispanics blessing America, open to the Gospel
Something wonderful is happening and if Southern Baptists will not get discouraged or distracted while continuing to fulfill The Great Commission, then it may continue and even explode into something America desperately needs – a Third Great Awakening.
What am I talking about? I hope you read the story on page 1 concerning The Barna Group study that shows the Hispanic population in the United States rapidly adopting the mainstream beliefs and practices of Americans. Contained in that discovery were these golden nuggets: Hispanics who claim to be born-again Christians is up 17 percent and those who have made a personal commitment to Jesus is up 15 percent over the past 15 years. In addition, during that same period, church attendance among Hispanics is up, as well as those reading the Bible during a typical week.
This revelation ought to fill us with excitement. Some demographers – like Ken Gronbach – have been predicting that Hispanics will play a key role in helping our nation emerge from an economic recession as they assimilate into the general population. “Most of this assimilation will occur naturally because their culture is very compatible with U.S. culture and they assimilate faster than any other immigrants in the nation’s history,” Gronbach told CNN in May. This alone is a blessing to our nation, but there is more.
An important part of the assimilation process is their immersion into religion and every indication is they are moving toward Christianity – and specifically evangelical Christianity even though many come with ties to Catholicism. Gronbach, a member of an independent Baptist church in Connecticut, thinks Southern Baptists are well positioned to minister to Hispanics. He also thinks the Southern Baptist Convention could double in size in the coming decades – in large part due to our evangelistic efforts directed at Hispanics and the gigantic Generation Y, or Millennial generation (ages 5-24), that is just entering adulthood.
Hispanics represent the largest – and fastest growing – ethnic group in America, although new Census Bureau data shows the rate of increase is slowing. The percentage growth of Hispanics slowed from 4 percent in 2001 to 3.2 percent in 2008. Their slowed population growth would have been greater if it were not for their high fertility (nearly 10 births for every death).
Hispanics are obeying God’s command by being “fruitful and multiplying.” There were more babies born in the United States in 2007 – 4.3 million – than in any year since the Baby Boomers set the old record in 1957. More than 25 percent of those births in 2007 came from Hispanics, even though they make up only 14 percent of our nation’s population. The high fertility rate among Hispanics is another blessing. Why?
There are nine million less Generation Xers (ages 25-44) than there are Baby Boomers (ages 45-64). There are several factors that can account for the drop in fertility. No generation has been impacted more by abortions than Generation X. More than four million of them have been killed in abortion clinics. In addition, secularists are trying to destroy what constitutes a family, encouraging couples to live together out of wedlock which often discourages having children; promoting accommodating divorce laws that invite people to divorce rather than stay married and have children; and radical feminism, which has caused many women to forego childbearing because of careers. The implications of this on our nation have been profound.
“Between 1965 and 1984 the number of babies born in the United States dropped like a stone, owing to a misguided belief that zero population growth was beneficial,” Gronbach told CNN. America’s fertility rate plummeted 25 percent during that period and without the influx of about 12 million Hispanics our nation’s replacement level would have dropped below the 2.1 replacement level. China and European nations like Austria, Germany and Italy have slipped below that level, causing their populations to decrease significantly. Gronbach says by 2050, if current trends hold, there will be 100 million more Americans and about 100 million less Europeans. A lack of breeding offers disastrous consequences, demographers predict, triggering famine and disease.
If not for Hispanics, America would be facing such misery because Generation X cannot earn, consume, pay taxes or populate the labor force at the level of the Baby Boomers. They simply do not have the critical mass. Just imagine the impact on such programs as Social Security and Medicare if not for Hispanics filling the gap.
“Without the Latino immigrants our economy would crash in 10 years making the current economic crisis look like a cake walk,” Gronbach told CNN.
The highest concentration of Hispanics are in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey and Illinois, but states like Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas have experienced growth as well. There are 170,000 Hispanics in Missouri or about three percent of the state’s population. There is a great opportunity to minister to these wonderful people who are becoming loyal, hard-working Americans and who are searching for the Savior to whom we can point. His name is Jesus.