While there’s no foundation other than the one laid by Jesus Christ, Argentine missionaries along a 650-mile ruta misonera—missionary route—from Buenos Aires to Mendoza recognize they also need to do some foundational work to support themselves.
The Argentine Mennonite Church has long dreamed of sending missionaries into the vast countryside to spread their faith, but finding the resources to support themselves and their families can be challenging and time consuming. Sergio Curto, a pastor in Argentina, had the idea of starting small businesses in outlying areas so missionaries can make a living while they establish ministries.
The idea has since borne fruit in the town of Villa Mercedes with the establishment of the Beraca block factory, a small business run by a young couple with big plans for mission. After a couple of years setting up the business and developing relationships, there is a small group of new Christians who meet two or three times a week in people’s homes. One of the couples that attend most regularly was the factory’s very first clients.
Mennonite Mission Network has walked with the Argentines in mission work since the first North American workers arrived in 1917. This current effort is supported partly through a partnership between churches in Argentina and congregations from the Atlantic Coast Conference called Visión Evangélistica Misionera Zona Oeste (Evangelistic Missionary Vision for the Western Zone).
“We believe the worker is worth his wages, so we’re not just sending them as much as seeking out work to sustain them so they won’t suffer financially,” Curto said.
This factory—a small enclosed lot big enough for mixing cement, molding the blocks, and letting them dry in the sun—is just one way missionaries can support themselves. Future evangelists may open food stands, corner stores, or other businesses.
“Many brothers and sisters in Argentina are called to be missionaries, and sometimes finances are an impediment to them fulfilling their calling,” Curto said. “I believe God trained me to form workers and teach them to be businesspeople.”
The church is already planning its next small factory in San Luis, about 60 miles west of Villa Mercedes.
“This may appear to be difficult to believe, but when we have four or five married couples in different places, each with a small business, it will seem more believable because the evidence will speak for itself,” Curto said.
Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA, leads, mobilizes and equips the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ in a broken world. Media may contact Andrew Clouse at firstname.lastname@example.org, 574-523-3024 or 866-866-2872, ext. 23024.