Located in Middle America between the United States and Belize, Mexico, is a vacation destination with two coastlines—the Caribbean to the east and the Pacific to the west. It is the eleventh most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is the world’s third most populated urban area.
Although Spanish is the official language of Mexico, some 16 percent of the population speaks only one of the Indian dialects found throughout the country.
What is now Mexico was the site of three advanced Amerindian civilizations: Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec. These civilizations are credited with developing their own architecture, cultivating maize (corn), and studying mathematics and astronomy.
In 1519 Spanish explorers and colonists established New Spain as a Spanish colony for the next three centuries. During this time Roman Catholicism grew in the country. Gradually Spain placed the majority of the country’s control in the Catholic Church’s hands. In 1810 Mexico declared its independence from Spain, sparking an 11-year war that established the short-lived First Mexican Empire. The 1857 constitution separated the Catholic Church’s control from state government. Over the next few decades various governments rose and fell. In 1929 Plutarco Elías Calles founded what became the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). This party ruled Mexico for the next 70 years.
A devaluation of Mexico’s money, the peso, in the 1990s threw Mexico into its worst economic recession in more than 50 years. Today the nation continues to make an impressive recovery, though there are ongoing concerns of underemployment, low real wages, and unequal income distribution. In 2000 Vicente Fox, of the National Action Party (PAN), defeated the PRI candidate for the first time since 1929, in what some consider the freest election in Mexico’s history.
Adventists in Mexico
Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6.3% (Pentecostal 1.4%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.1%, other 3.8%), other 0.3%, unspecified 13.8%, none 3.1%
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
*General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 144th Annual Statistical Report
The Adventist Church’s work in Mexico started in 1891 when American tailor S. Marchisio sold copies of the book The Great Controversy in Mexico City. Two years later a group of missionaries started Guadalajara Sanitarium, the first medical missionary work outside the United States. The same year the first Mexican Adventist church was organized in Guadalajara as part of the medical mission. Within a decade the Adventist Church’s work spread to seven more cities, with some 70 church members.
The Adventist Church in Mexico has more than 500,000 members; yet people in some regions are largely untouched by the Adventist message. Mexico City and its surrounding regions average one Adventist for every 1,000 people.
Many Adventists in Mexico have no permanent houses of worship. For this reason, part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering for the second quarter of 2008 was designated to help construct 28 church buildings in the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union Conference.