So I spent the past four days trapped in an evangelical torture chamber, or Profecía 2006. On the invitation of a friend, I attended this four-day Neo-Pentecostal mega-church conference with participants from around the world. (As background, Guatemala is experiencing a massive conversion from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical/Neo-Pentecostal Christianity. There are about five mega-churches in the city, each with stadium-style seating, packing in 3,000 to 5,000 people per service, several times a day, every Sunday. There are also countless smaller, store-front evangelical churches throughout the city and countryside. Basically, it’s something I’d definitely like to learn more about as a phenomenon while I’m here.)
The most striking thing about the conference for me was the utter lack of ANY quiet time. (Thus the torture chamber reference.) It was constant noise – speaking in tongues, screaming, singing with a loud Christian pop band, what they called “clamoring” for God. I came home and instituted a silence policy each night – NO speaking to my husband, NO television, NO music. It was like being at a loud rock concert for the entire waking day (9am to 9pm everyday), with no time to process.
As a practicing Hindu, I’m used to silent meditation retreats to commune with God, daily meditation, and soothing chanting… On a related side note, every time I was asked about my heritage during the conference, I obviously said India (my Spanish is certainly not good enough to pretend that I’m brown-skinned because I’m Latina). The response is ALWAYS, “There is so much work to be done in India” – i.e., so many souls to be saved.
A whole group of “prophets” came here from the U.S. as the conference’s headliners. They were very charismatic, fire-and-brimstone preachers from the American South and Midwest (and one guy from home in the Bay Area). Although much of what the U.S. speakers said and did bordered on the intolerant, offensive, or charlatan (and strangely out-of-context for Guatemala), I was really impressed by many of the people I met over the course of the four days. In addition to being very sweet and kind, they were extremely intelligent and well-read about religious history, poverty in Latin America, and social movements. Every one of them had a strong belief (which I share) in God’s ability to grant us each a mystical, individual experience and inspire us to acts of bravery and charity… I guess I found that it’s good to go outside of my comfort zone sometimes if I really want “inter-faith” experiences…
evangelical, neo-pentecostal, prophesy, interfaith, profecia 2006