The Hidden People
Native Argentine Criollo People

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                       28 Jan 2008

PART 1 – The Place (Argentine People)

Total Length: 1:56

City Overlay of Resistencia

Resistencia, founded in 1878 by immigrants from Italy, is the beautiful and energetic capital of the Province of Chaco.

Map Overlay

Located in the hot lowlands of northeastern Argentina and with a population of 300,000, Resistencia is the commercial as well as the cultural center of the Chaco region.

The people of this area, like those of most of Argentina, are of European decent.  These immigrants from Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and the Baltic countries have been here for many generations and developed a culture and lifestyle that is uniquely Argentine. They call their adopted language Castallano which is claimed to be a more pure form of Spanish than that spoken elsewhere in South America.

Argentines celebrate their Independence Day on July the 9th and take the opportunity to make speeches, feature the various cultural groups in parades, and to show off their prestige with everything from military aircraft and vintage cars to the sanitation workers and their shiny, new garbage truck. The importance of family is also demonstrated in this parade.

This area is the home of the Gauchos. These fun-loving and energetic Argentine cowboys are responsible for raising high-quality grass-fed beef.

The streets in the downtown area of Resistencia boast of many stores and offices, large apartment buildings, and a well maintained transportation system.

  Transition to Native Argentine People

There was one large group of people that was not present in the Independence Day Parade.  Many Argentines would prefer to keep the Native Argentine Criollo hidden in the rural areas and on the outskirts of the cities.


PART 2 – The Target People (Nacriollo Lifestyle)

Total Length:  2:22

Transition to Fontana


Fontana is a suburb of Resistencia and the home of some of the Criollos.  Here, the paved streets of the city are replaced by dirt roads, the automobiles replaced by non-functioning tractors, the sidewalks replaced by open sewers, and tall apartment buildings replaced by small masonry structures.  Most people who have jobs must ride bicycles to get to work in the city. Local employment is hard to find and wages are very low. About 50% of the people are unemployed. Some people earn a small income selling staple goods from their homes.  Yet, one of the things the Criollos value highly is hospitality and the visitor is welcomed and offered mate, a tea that is shared from a common cup.



Behind a levee that protects them from the Rio Paraná and in the shadow of a large grain elevator is another community called La Toma.  On the edge of this community is the home of a boat builder by the name of Jose. He builds good fishing boats but he is unable to sell enough to improve the living conditions of his family. Jose, his wife, Raquel, and their 4 children live in a home where the walls and roof are made from sheets of black plastic.


Transition to Gauchos

The flat terrain of the pampas is well suited to raising cattle. The care of the cattle throughout the area is entrusted to the Gauchos. The rainy season turns some of the pastureland into lakes, which requires extra work in caring for the cattle herds. Gauchos take great pride in being macho men.

One exciting part of the Gaucho’s life is the rodeos and an opportunity to show off ones horses and horsemanship. The Gauchos cling fiercely to centuries-old traditions. On this day, it was also a time to share experiences and techniques with North American horsemen. The methods are different but a helping hand and an Argentine handshake bind the friendship of these men of different cultures and beliefs. These Christian volunteers told them about the most macho man they had ever met, Jesus Christ.

PART 3 – Their Spiritual Condition (Belief in Idols, etc.)

Total Length:  2:01

The established church, as well as the provincial government, has provided little meaningful support for these hidden people.

Catholic churches are prominent in most cities in the area; however, Catholicism is heavily mixed with animistic beliefs and popular folk heroes.


A shrine located outside Mercedes in Corrientes Province was set up to honor one of the folk hero’s known as Gaucho Gil.  People come here to pay their respects and pray to this patron saint. This also serves as an economic enterprise marketing various religious symbols and icons.  On the eighth of January, over 100,000 people flood this area to honor him on the anniversary of his death.

Many people believe that they can pray to Gaucho Gil and he will intercede and persuade God to grant them favors.  He takes the place of Jesus for them.  The story goes that the Argentine cowboy, Gaucho Gil, was captured in 1875 and hung from the tree that once stood at this spot. This happened after he had deserted military duties that he thought to be wrong.

tree where hung, plaques and license plates

Many accounts circulate about the favors granted by Gaucho Gil. Plaques abound at the shrine expressing gratitude to Gaucho Gil.  License plates on the wall are from people who attribute the gaucho with the good fortune of acquiring a new car or perhaps being saved from a bad car wreck. The wedding dresses hanging from the ceiling are a thank offering to Gaucho Gil for a good marriage.

Virgin of Itati and Saint Death

Two other popular religious symbols are the Virgin of Itati and Saint Death.  Saint Death was the patron saint of Gaucho Gil so people here will also pray to Saint Death as well as Gaucho Gil petitioning for a non-violent death.

PART 4 – Mission Activity (Worshipping Jesus at Pampa Alegria)

Total Length: 2:57

Transition to Saénz Peña

Saénz Peña is the second largest city in Chaco Province and located about 100 miles west of Resistencia. Here, as well as elsewhere in the province, the Criollos are left out of meaningful employment opportunities.

Transition to Pampa Alegria

Many of the Criollos live and work in the rural areas of the provinces. The roads to get to these settlements are rough and poorly maintained.  When it rains  these roads become virtually impassable.  About 30 miles northwest of Saénz Peña is the small settlement of Pampa Alegria.  The living conditions in this colonia are similar to that throughout the area.  The small homes are made of mud and sticks with a dirt floor.  But this colonia is different than most of the other places. They have a church here.

People gather for worship.  A few men leave the comfort of their churches in Saénz Peña and make the hour drive to Pampa Alegria to assist in the worship service as well as teach Sunday School.  One leads the group in prayer and songs of praise.  He continues with a lesson from God's Word as the people stand and listen carefully.

The worship time concludes after an hour and Sunday School begins.  M. takes the six little children and sits them in a circle near the tall grass.  Four teenagers help their teacher bring a table outside. They use a hand cranked cassette tape player as part of their Bible study.  Meanwhile, B. and four young adults gather next to a house where they enjoy mate while discussing the lesson. There is no need for a nursery here. As R. teaches the seven adults under a tree, a little one plays quietly and a mother comforts her baby.  Their time together ends with the observation of the Lord’s Supper.  Servant Leaders serve a small loaf of bread and a common glass of peach nectar.

God is here in the midst of these believers. Those in attendance are eager to learn more about Jesus. Other small villages like this one are opening to the Gospel.  The church planting movement is growing in this part of the world as the Criollo people discover that Jesus can give them hope in every circumstance of life.


PART 5 – Call to Action (Your Responsibility)

Total Length: 1:40

The Criollo … the hidden people … are overlooked and pushed aside. Their lack of education, environmental conditions, and family problems all present difficulties in reaching them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  One of the greatest challenges we face is to stay on focus with the mission that God has called us to carry out because it would be so easy to prioritize the social part of the ministry.  That is important but we are here with one mission and that is to begin a church planting movement so that our people can come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

People here may pray the prayer that the evangelicals ask … but "just in case" … they also continue to pray to their saint and to listen to the messages presented by cults.  We present the Gospel little by little through narratives, not rushing the people to a decision.  ... Will you help us show these people how to leave the darkness behind and step into the light of God’s Son?  Will you help us train Christians in churches in Northern Argentina to disciple small groups of believers?  Are you willing to walk with us among these hidden people?  Will you be on your knees as a prayer warrior for the Criollo people?  As you pray, will you remember the faces of these Criollo men, women and children who need you?  What will you do?

Ending: group singing at Pampa Alegria with overlay:  HELP ... TEACH … GO … PRAY

Transition to Web site address: for more information: 

Fade out with children


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