Centering Latinas to Bless the Whole Church: A Brief Review of Hermanas by Kohn, Vega Quiñones, and Garza Robinson

Hospitality is at the heart of the Christian faith. Not only was it a hallmark of the early church, but it stretches back through the roots of the Jesus movement into ancient Judaism. Hospitality is that experience of welcome, of invitation, of safety and comfort in another person’s space. Hospitality is also the generous extension of one’s own resources, of making space for another. This is what Christians believe God has done in Christ, and what Christians are called to do for others. Hospitality is what one experiences when they are invited into another’s home for a meal or for tea. Hospitality is also what one experiences when they are allowed to witness something, or be a party to some event, that is not primarily designed for them. It’s hospitality that says: even though this is not for you, you may sit quietly and listen. Hospitality is a precious gift for which we should be grateful.

Hermanas: Deepening Our Identity and Growing Our Influence is just such a gift. Authors Natalia Kohn, Noemi Vega Quiñones, and Kristy Garza Robinson have written a wonderful and inspiring book to their Latina sisters, for their Latina sisters. Yet they have invited those of us who are not Latinas to sit quietly and listen. We are blessed if we do.

As the book’s prologue states:

“Our goal is that Hermanas will serve as a discipleship and leadership development resource for Latina women who desire to grow in their ethnic identity, leadership, and relationship with God. Hermanas is also for men and women who seek to walk alongside and empower emerging Latina leaders.” (2)

While the book is primarily written for Latinas, it is also an excellent resource for those who lead multiethnic ministries and seek to advance in cultural intelligence so that the body of Christ can fully reflect the beautiful diversity God has invested in it. This is particularly important for male leaders.

“We each felt invited by God to write this book with the primary audience of Latinas, to help honor, strengthen, and empower them in their holistic voices, but we also welcome women from other backgrounds who want to hear stories and wrestle with their faith and their cultural identities. We hope men will pick up this book and engage with the twelve biblical women, us three women, and the women we share with you all. May our brothers take these stories to heart with the longing to partner even more effectively with God and their sisters.” (11)

This generous invitation in listen in on and learn from these three Latina authors is a lovely example of Christian hospitality. Rather than saying “This book isn’t for you,” these authors have allowed those of us who aren’t Latina to sit quietly and listen. And by centering Latinas, they have made their goals and values clear, goals and values that are very much in line with God’s Kingdom. They also demonstrate these Kingdom values in the way they talk about race and ethnicity.

Approaching Race and Ethnicity Right

As I’ve written before, there are some approaches to race and ethnicity that do more harm than good. It’s especially frustrating when a book that is meant to help people explore their ethnic identities does more to confuse than clarify. That’s why it’s such a comfort and encouragement that Hermanas clearly defines race and ethnicity from the start, and does not confuse the two. In a section of the book’s prologue called “Defining Latinas,” the authors directly and boldly call race a “power and principality” (8) and describe it in terms not only of its personal dimensions but also its systemic and institutional dimensions. This is so critically necessary. For far, far too long, Evangelicals have sought to ignore or minimize these dimensions in books on “racial reconciliation.” Hermanas does not fall into that trap. This section also does a wonderful job naming and describing Colorism, which so many books on race and ethnicity leave out. This section demonstrates that these authors are not only experienced ministry practitioners, they are also scholars who are seeking to teach from the best available models. And this extends into how each author discusses their own relationship to race, ethnicity, culture, and America’s racialized society. What a gift is the vulnerability and transparency of these three gifted leaders!

Book Structure

Hermanas is a well-crafted tapestry of biblical interpretation, missional theology, personal testimony, and inspiring encouragement. There are twelve women from the Bible profiled in twelve separate chapters, divided up between the three authors. The book is also divided into two parts:

  • Part 1: Identity and Intimacy
    • 1. Esther – Kristy Garza Robinson
    • 2. The Shulamite Woman – Natalia Kohn
    • 3. The Bleeding Woman – Noemi Vega Quiõnes
    • 4. Hannah – Natalia Kohn
    • 5. Mary of Bethany – Kristy Garza Robinson
    • 6. Rahab – Noemi Vega Quiõnes
  • Part 2: Influence and Impact
    • 7. The Canannite Woman – Natalia Kohn
    • 8. Ruth – Kristy Garza Robinson
    • 9. Tabitha – Noemi Vega Quiõnes
    • 10. Lydia – Natalia Kohn
    • 11. Deborah – Kristy Garza Robinson
    • 12. Mary – Noemi Vega Quiõnes

Allegiance and Justice

There are so many great chapters in Hermanas. And each author writes with her own distinct style and from her own distinct social location. Couple that with the diverse cast of biblical characters and that makes Hermanas a very eclectic mix of topics, perspectives, contexts, and applications. Which is also part of what makes this book so interesting.

But, for this reader, the themes of allegiance and justice were the most compelling. I especially loved how Noemi Vega Quiõnes writes about these themes in her chapter on Rahab:

“Allegiance to the Lord means that one looks to the way of life the Lord envisions for his people, to the life of the covenanting community of God, and models that life in our everyday spaces. Christians know what the kingdom of God looks like because the Scriptures are filled with beautiful pictures and metaphors, stories, and poems of God’s covenanting faithfulness. We are created to be in healthy, healing communities that live rightly and justly with one another and with our God. When leaders see that this vision of life is being violated, they name that injustice and point the community back toward righteousness and justice. How can we be agents of transformation and justice if we are not allied to the one who transforms and is just? In order to know what justice looks like, we must know the one who is truly just.” (95)

The theme of loving community as demonstrating the love of God and justice is central to Hermanas and should be central to the way every Christian seeks to live out their faith. Hermanas is an excellent encouragement to trust in Christ, derive our primary identity from what he says about us, lead with boldness, and love everyone with God’s love.


Hermanas centers Latinas in a beautiful exploration of culture, leadership, community, and mission. This centering of Latinas is especially important in a time when Latinos and Latinas are often denigrated or even vilified in the media. This centering of Latinas is a prophetic blessing to the American church, which has fallen victim to the principalities and powers of racism and patriarchy. I’m confident Hermanas will bless any reader who has a heart to seek God’s Kingdom. I’m also confident it is the kind of book the American church urgently needs right now. I highly recommend it.