The Zapotec Indians are indigenous Indians descended from the pre-Columbian Indians that inhabited the Americas prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Oaxaca, Mexico is a very unique and diverse place. It is located in southwest Mexico along the Pacific coast at the convergence of the Sierra Madre Oriental and Sur mountain ranges. It is home to deserts, rain forest, high mountain cloud forest and coastline. This creates an extremely rugged and diverse environment that does not lend itself to industrialization. As a result of this Oaxaca is one of the poorest regions in Mexico. Oaxaca is home to just over 3.5 million people of which over 1 million are indigenous Indians descended from the pre-Columbian Indians that lived here prior to the arrival of the Spanish. These indigenous Indians belong to 16 distinct communities of which Zapotec is the largest. These 16 groups each speak their own languages and furthermore various tribes speak different variations of those languages, as an example Zapotec Indians speak over 60 variations of Zapotec. This creates the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse area in the Western Hemisphere.
Of these 1 million indigenous Indians residing in Oaxaca almost 500,000 speak no Spanish at all, making the process of evangelizing a rather daunting task because most do not have the Bible available in their native dialect. Their languages are more similar to Vietnamese than our western Latin based languages. You may ask then why we need to know Spanish. We need to know Spanish to be able to establish ourselves in the culture surrounding these villages so that we can study the indigenous languages. Many tribes have yet to be even reached with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! The Zapotec live in remote villages, usually of less than 500, spread throughout the state, often in difficult location to reach. Many live without the modern conveniences we enjoy such as running water and indoor plumbing!
There is little to no Gospel presence in many of these villages and tribal groups and even in those places with a few true Christians there are very few churches. Because of the diverse nature, small sizes and remote location of the villages we will be locating in a central market or trade city. As the Zapotec come to the market cities to sell their wares on a weekly basis we will work on building relationships with them while sharing the good news of Christ. This will give us a chance to learn the individual languages and dialects from the members of the tribes which are bilingual. Our desire is to plant local churches in these municipal seats and market cities. From there we will launch outreach programs into the surrounding Zapotec villages on a weekly basis. Our long-term burden is to start a bible institute to train and send out converts back to their own villages to share the Gospel and start local churches among their own family and friends. Our passion is to see the name of Christ glorified among the indigenous Indians as they turn to Him!