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Friday, October 24, 2014

Hispanic Culture: Familia Es Familia - Staying Close

I have another blog over at Word Press which I started a while ago related to the Hispanic culture (the term "Hispanic" is also used in general way and though many nationalities-including non-Hispanics- share most of the distinctives, there are exceptions) titled Stuff Hispanics Like and Do. In it, I shared some generalizations, some humorous, that for the most part are true in our Hispanic culture. As Hispanics become part of the American culture, change happens especially in subsequent generations and they become bi-cultural, thus exceptions become apparent. However, many of the generalizations remain true and some will always be part of the Hispanic culture.

These series of posts will continue the topic of Hispanic culture disntinctives in a more serious tone and also include some implications in sharing the Gospel.

In Hispanic culture family is the most basic and important unit. Nothing is more important than family. Individualism is discouraged over the benefit of the whole family. It may not be a perfect family, but Hispanics have a saying, "Familia es familia." This means that though the family experiences difficulties and problems, family is always there for you. Members in the family are expected to support each other and help each other. Children once grown up are encouraged to stay at home or close to home. Going far away for school is discouraged (I
tried). Even when married, parents expect their children to stay close. Some even encourage them to stay in the same home. Grandparents or "abuelitos" play a very important part after their children are married. Usually grandparents raise their grand kids while the parents are working (it happened in our case).

During special events, all of the family gathers together usually at the grandparents home or whoever are the patriarchs of the family. Food is plentiful (a matter for another post) and everyone enjoys the time together.

The implication when sharing the Gospel with Hispanics is that we have to address them as a unit and not as individuals. The family should be seen as a unit when presenting the Gospel. This means using their primary language to share, attending social functions to get to know them, and providing church events (including the church service in Spanish) that focus on the family as a unit is indispensable. This is key in church growth among Hispanics churches. Hispanics churches usually are made up of extended family units, this all a result of the unity that binds them together.

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