More than Just Tacos and Starbucks

I keep joking around with my friends here that everyone is going to think that all I did during my trip to Mexico was drink Starbucks and eat tacos.

The reality is that tacos and coffee are just the means by which I can have meaningful conversations with youth workers and other friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

I will admit, I’ve eaten many tacos and drunk a lot of caffeinated beverages during this trip, but the times I’ve had with people during those meals have been well worth the price of admission.

Here are a few things I’ve accomplished either during a meal or a coffee:

  • Josue gave a talk at Starbucks about love and values.
  • Meeting with Josue and David about their church’s worship service and how to make it more efficient.
  • Lunch meeting with youth ministry certificate graduates about starting a network in Monterrey.
  • Tacos with Josue and talk about Seminary and the Family ministry class we are co-teaching.
  • Meeting for coffee with Rafa, one of our graduates who is serving as youth pastor in Ojo de Agua.
  • Lunch meeting with Adolfo, Masters in youth ministry graduate who wants to talk about future training opportunities.
  • Meeting with Claudia, currrent director of the Center for Youth Ministry at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Dinner with my good friend and missionary from Argentina (and youth pastor) Gerardo.

Im sure I will have other meetings while I’m here, and some of them just might be at a Starbucks or a taco place. I might as well take advantage of the time I have in Mexico. 😀


First Few Days of Mexico Trip – VIDEO

I decided to make a videoblog about the first few days of my trip to Mexico.

You should watch it just to see the story of the lady I sat next to on the airplane on the way to Atlanta who had never been on an airplane before.

Do you remember the first time you went on an airplane? Were you as excited as she was?


There’s Still So Much More to Do

Friday night Josue and I were on our way home from a great youth group meeting. Around 40 young people were there dressed as Toy Story, Star Wars, and other Disney characters. Many of them have come to Christ through the ministry of Josue and Kareny at their local church. There was food, games, and good fun. We left satisfied by what we saw and the way the young people responded to good Christian relationship building.

On the way home, we stopped at Oxxo, a Mexican convenience store that competes with 7-Eleven for business. While we were there buying water and snacks, around ten to fifteen young high school kids came into the store and went straight for the alcohol section of the cooler. Nobody asked them for identification, and the clerk behind the counter didn’t bat an eye when two of them asked for three bottles of Tequila that was stored behind the counter. There wasn’t a parent in sight.

I know this stuff happens in the USA as well–even with good “church kids”, and many parents authorize underage drinking and other things, but it broke my and Josue’s hearts as we saw these kids ready for a Saturday night of hard partying without anyone to speak truth into their lives. It reminded us of the battle we are in against spiritual darkness and that we still have so much more work to do.

Please pray for the youth of Mexico. Pray that God would raise up a generation of youth leaders and a church willing to rescue young people like the ones we saw Saturday night—a church ready to engage the culture and speak truth to young people who are looking to fill their lives with something meaningful.


Youth Ministry Network in Monterrey

Yesterday I was in a meet-up with the students of the certificate program here in Monterrey, and I was sitting next to Olga and her husband, who have recently started taking the Certificate classes taught by our graduates Josue and Kareny.

As we talked about our desire to begin a network of youth leaders in the area, she was excited. They had both been telling me about how there is a lack of vision for what to do with the youth in her denomination. She was talking about how they do events with no purpose and was excited about the possibility of inviting others who have not received any youth ministry training to these meetings.

Olga hopes that these other youth leaders will learn some of the principles that are taught in the YMI program to better reach out and disciple young people. The rest of the group agreed that the meet-ups would be a good idea for them as well, and the first one will be scheduled for some time in April.

Please pray for these youth leaders who have received training from YMI. Pray that they will put into practice the things they have seen and learned so that many more young people will be impacted by the churches in this region.

Current certificate program students


The Gospel and Youth Culture in Nigeria

I recently went to Nigeria to teach a course at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary called “Understanding Youth Culture.” In the course, I sent my students out in groups to do ethnographic research. Although they all did a wonderful job on their project, one of the groups came back with an incredible story of how God worked at the local school they went to for the assignment.

Click here to read more about what happened.


High School Students are Capable of Incredible Things

There seems to be an attitude in the world today that says that High School students only look out for themselves and are incapable of making the world a better place. Many adults seem to discount them as a waste of time or just a bunch of hoodlums who are looking for trouble.

We’ve all read articles about the horrible use of social media to shame others and cyber-bully those who aren’t like the rest. We’ve seen the horror stories on the news about how many young people are picked on so much that they no longer want to live.

The things mentioned above are tragic, and there are many things we need to do to fix them.

On the other hand, however, are stories that hardly get the media attention they deserve and point out the incredible potential in high school students. This story tells of three football players at a Texas high school who started a drive to raise money to buy shoes for a classmate who had been wearing shoes a few sizes too small.
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YMI Launches Training in West Africa

I spent last week in Nigeria along with 24 new youth ministry students at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary. I was teaching “Understanding Youth Culture,” one of the courses in the first block of twelve classes these students will receive from YMI in order to think more strategically about reaching the next generation and train others in youth ministry.

The trip was eventful and new for me, my first time in Africa. The Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary belongs to the Nigerian Baptist Convention, which has 4 million members and 6 million attendees. The Convention has 13 schools, but before now there was no youth ministry training programs in any of the schools.
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More Youth Ministry Training in Ukraine

Our mission organization, Youth Ministry International, trains youth workers for local churches. In the past few years we have realized the potential impact of training men and women who could train others for youth ministry. This strategy has a multiplication effect where our friends around the world begin to influence more youth workers than we could have ever imagined.

The strategy proves effective as we watch national youth workers in Cuba, Mexico, Kenya, and other parts of the world take what we have taught them and teach others to apply it in their own local churches. Our own trainers have adopted this vision and begun to expand their ministries to other seminaries and Bible institutes. Ukraine is one such example.

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The Influence of Adults on Young People

I saw this video posted on Facebook, and I wanted to comment on it here. It’s about a Latin teacher who has cancer. He’s sitting at his window, and outside are 400 students worshipping God and singing a song with him. Watch the video below:

I’m sure there is a lot to this story, but it is obvious that there is an adult–a teacher–who is loved by young people and being honored by them because of the influence he has had on their lives. There is no doubt many other former students who would have been there if they could.
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Teens and the Bible

I’ve read two articles lately on the topic of teenagers and the Bible. Both articles focus on research done by the Barna Group1 and the American Bible Society2.

The Findings

The 2016 Teen State of the Bible report found:

  • 86 percent of American teens view the Bible as sacred literature,
  • 69 percent own a Bible
  • 25% read the Bible four or more times per week
  • 42 percent hear it read at least once a week

However, 14% say that their Bible reading has declined in the last year. The number one reason they have not read the Bible as much this year as last year—they are too busy for life’s responsibilities (41%).
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