Paraguay is often described as "half wilderness and half garden." In the heart of South America, Paraguay is one of only two landlocked countries on the continent. Prior to colonial rule, it was peopled by semi-nomadic, Guarani-speaking Indians known for their fierce warrior traditions.
Up to 95% of Paraguayans are mestizos, people of mixed Spanish and native American descent. Many speak the language of the indigenous Guarani; the rest are bilingual or only speak Spanish.
With few mineral resources, Paraguay's economy revolves around agriculture. The commercialisation of agriculture, population growth and forest clearances have led to a dramatic increase in the number of landless families. This has boosted migration into urban areas and shanty towns have burgeoned. Around 60% of Paraguayans live in poverty.
Population: 6.4 million Major languages: Spanish, Guarani Major religion: Christianity
While Paraguay has long been dominated by the traditional religion of its early colonisers, there is widespread bondage to pre-Christian "deities," customs, and superstitions. Paraguay is still waiting for its first true spiritual awakening. Evangelical witness was severely restricted until democratic reforms overthrew a corrupt military dictatorship in 1989. The present constitution provides for freedom of religion and of the press.
SIM sent its first missionaries to Paraguay in 1987. Our main thrust is church planting among the unreached rural communities of the country. We also continue to work in some urban areas near Asuncion. The church planting teams have begun five new churches, as well as Bible studies in a number of other locations.
We would like to reach other communities as the Lord provides missionaries. Opportunities abound as we have seen relationships formed through practical outreaches like veterinary service, medical clinics, youth centres, Christian camping, carpentry shops, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), and the running of a Christian elementary school.
There is great need for more church-planters, people to train and mentor leaders, more extensive youth work and people to help equip churches to minister to those living with HIV and AIDS. If you would like to be a part of what God is doing in Paraguay, contact our representative in your state or check out the opportunities for service in Paraguay online.
CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pa.html
Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/paraguay
Travel health http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/paraguay.htm
Foreign Affairs advice http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Paraguay