The Outsiders
Native Argentine Criollo People

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                       28 Jan 2008


 Scene: Dirt road leading to Pampa Alegria/children sitting in grass (OVERLAY TITLE)/playing circle game

To be an outsider is more than being alone in a tall field of grass. It is being looked down upon and shoved aside or ignored. This is the plight of the Native Argentine Criollo … a group of people that many Argentines would prefer to keep hidden in the rural areas. It is like those that see a circle representing a better life … a life that you occasionally enter but where you must leave after only a fleeting moment. (Time: 25 sec.)


Presidencia Roque Saénz Peña, located in Northern Argentina, with a population of about 80,000 is the second largest city in Chaco Province. Many of the Native Argentine Criollos live and work near here, but they are not the ones driving cars or with good paying jobs. The Criollos can easily beidentified by their horse drawn carts called carritos. The Criollos can be seen hauling trash, sweeping the street, and sometimes bringing fresh vegetables to the open-air markets in town. Others find seasonal work at the cotton gin located at the southern edge of town. (Time: 36 sec.)

The Criollo homes are usually small brick structures. Some have electricity but few other conveniences. Usually, the extended family lives in the same house. (Time: 09 sec.)

The more capable and enterprising ones are able to set-up their own business. This charcoal factory near the town of Machagai is a good example. The family settled on the edge of a large cattle ranch and constructed these mud and brick kilns to make the charcoal. (Time: 16 sec.)

Enough money is earned selling the charcoal for subsistence living. The work is hard. The rewards appear to be few. The family lives in a mud and stick home, cook their bread in an outdoor beehive shaped oven, and prepare their meals in a kitchen attached to their home. (Time: 16 sec.)

The horse-drawn cart is used to haul wood from the nearby trees for making the charcoal. The charcoal-making oven looks like a very large beehive. With limited oxygen supply, wood smolders in this oven for four days. The oven is then completely sealed off to extinguish the fire and the resulting charcoal is allowed to cool for six days before the mud door is broken off and several thousand pounds of charcoal removed. The processed charcoal is loaded on the cart and taken to town where the city folks use it for grilling steaks and/or chicken. (Time: 34 sec.)

Further away from Saenz Pena and down many miles of dirt road flanked by grazing cattle, an occasional religious shrine, and winter wheat just beginning to grow is the colonia or settlement of Pampa Alegria. In this colonia, water is drawn from a shallow community well. The homes are humble … made of mud and sticks and very small. The cooking is done outside over a small fire. Children run and play and families work together to survive. The citrus and palm trees are evidence that temperatures in the winter seldom get below freezing. The subsistence life style is very meager. There are about 50 residents living here . Work, if available, is found on farms in the area. Very few make the 30-mile journey to Saenz Pena to work. (Time: 47 sec.)

On this Saturday afternoon, The North American visitors are greeted warmly and welcomed with smiles. These folks are eager to visit and show us around their colonia. Don Miguel seems to be the leader and introduces his family and happily gathers everyone for pictures. The teenage boys show off their skill with a sling-shot. Living in the dirt with little water, it is almost impossible to keep clean. At one home near the community well, a young woman is scrubbing clothes by hand outside and hanging them on a line to dry. Reaching the path leading to the home of another colonia leader, Antonia and her children smiled in greeting. North American visitors are not often seen here. Between her home and another is a small garden. (Time: 43 sec.)

About 10 miles from this colonia, is an elementary school. School was not in session but the Catholic parishioners are waiting for the priest to arrive to begin mass. The school has several rooms and is equipped with desks and blackboards. Just behind the school several people are opening the locked glass door of a small shrine and removing a religious icon needed for the service. (Time: 22 sec.)


Rough road – cattle running to brush

A rough road can be expected when attempting to reach these that have been left on the outside. Also, one must be careful in the approach to keep from pushing these native Argentine Criollos further away. Strong beliefs in witch doctors and folk heros represent major barriers to sharing the Good News of 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. (Time: 29 sec.)


Scenes: Randy talking to Antonia/other families/Kathy & Randy at Refuge of God Church/teaching classes at Good News Church/

These people need to know that you really are concerned about them and are willing to walk side by side. This requires meeting wherever they are. (Time: 09 sec.)

Good News Church – Pastor Marcelo

It requires more than a missionary couple. Important in this outreach is the support of the pastors and congregation of the established churches in Saenz Pena. (Time: 09 sec.)

Randy leading class

These churches provide the people and other resources necessary to cover the large geographic area surrounding Saenz Pena. (Time: 07 sec.)

Kathy teaching

The method of chronological storying in which the truths of the scripture are conveyed through spoken words and pictures is used more and more in sharing the Good News. However, those leading must be taught how to do this effectively. Many Criollos are unable to read well, if at all. Through chronological storying, the Gospel is presented little by little through narratives, not rushing the people to a decision. (Time: 24 sec.)

The pastor and people of the Buenas Nuevas Church are actively involved in working with the Criollos in the area. God has given these believers a desire to tell the Criollos about Jesus. These young people are showing God’s love. (Time: 14 sec.)

Two Girls.

Marissa, a member of the Buenas Nuevas Church as well as fellow member, Vicky, are actively involved in reaching the Criollos. (Time: 08 sec.)

Church at Pampa Alegria

Churches are being established where the Criollos know that they are NOT outsiders. Pampa Alegria, the colonia that we visited earlier, is one of these churches. On Sunday morning, because so many are believers in Jesus Christ, nearly the entire colonia turns out for the worship service. (Time: 18 sec.)

Each Sunday morning, Rudy, Bernabe, and teenager Marcelo leave town and their familiar churches and drive an hour to the village to assist in the worship service as well as teach Sunday School. At about 9:30, people gather for worship. The clothes drying on the lines yesterday are being worn today, hair is washed and curled, and faces are shining. It was evident that preparations had been made for attending worship. Standing in the sun on the bare ground under a clear sky, hands join forming a circle. Leading the group in prayer and songs of praise, Rudy begins the service. As he continues with a sermon, those in attendance listen, seeking to truly know God. (Time: 43 sec.)

After an hour, the worship time ends and Sunday School begins. Classes are quickly formed. Marcelo takes the little children and sits them in a circle in the tall grass, Mirta brings out an old table and a hand-cranked cassette tape player to lead the teenagers in Bible study, Bernabe gathers the young adults next to a house, and Rudy teaches the adults meeting under a tree. After the hour of Sunday School, the circle is formed again and the Lord’s Supper is celebrated using a small loaf of bread and a common glass of peach nectar served by Servant Leaders Antonia and Don Miguel. (Time: 36 sec.)

God is in the midst of these believers. Those in attendance are eager to learn more about Jesus. It is evident that God is at work here. Other small villages 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. (Time: 22 sec.)

(Time: 17 sec.)


CONCLUSION: overlay --- Help … Pray … Walk: – (Scene: communion Pampa Alegria)

Will you help show these people that they are not outsiders in God’s eyes?

Will you pray that you can see the Criollos as part of God’s people?

Will you be willing to walk with these believers as they go to other communities with the Gospel?

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