Email from Aruba

I just woke up to this email that I received as a reply to the latest post on I had posted an overview of what I taught in Miami this past weekend about how the incarnation of Jesus gives us a blueprint for being relevant in the lives of young people. The message said,

“Good evening. God bless you. I wanted to tell you that your message was very necessary. It helped me a lot. It made me reflect on the fact that I need to be patient and, just as we are rescued young people there are other youth that need to be reached and rescued! And I learned that we must enter the world of youth and not expect them to enter our world!

Thank you very much. I would like to receive more emails like this one! To help the youth of Aruba!

God bless you!”

These emails are fun to receive. Please pray that we can continue to find the time to write to these youth workers who need encouragement and support.


Entrust to Faithful Men…

At YMI, we often quote 2 Timothy 2:2. It says, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Our ministry exists to train those who can train others.

We call it “Training the trainers.”

These last few weeks have given me increased joy as I have had the privilege to minister alongside a few special people who I have trained.

When I was in Mexico a few weeks ago teaching the Youth and Family Class for the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary, I brought Josue Lara along with me to co-teach the course. He had taken that course from me and said how much it helped him and Kareny, his wife, as they have been ministering in their local church the last few years.

As I sat in class watching him teach, I was excited to see how much God has been working in his life throughout the years and how much he has matured in the ministry. I sat and watched him teach as someone who has not only thought through the material from a theological standpoint but has also lived it in a ministry setting and contextualized it for Mexico. He is more than qualified and gifted to “teach others also.”
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Worldwide? Global?

I’ve been invited to participate in a missions emphasis month at Horizon Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, a church that has supported our family’s ministry for some time now. I will be there this coming weekend, sharing about our ministry with Youth Ministry International.

In the sheet they asked me to fill out to tell about our ministry, they asked what country we are serving. This is a standard question that I used to always answer with, “Mexico,” even though my official title has always been “Director of Latin America.” Since we moved back to the USA from Mexico two years ago, this answer has become even more complicated. We are involved in a global ministry that impacts many different places. It’s exciting!

I wrote something this morning on my Facebook page that sums up the answer to the question,

“It’s crazy to be getting emails with assignments from students from Mexico and Nigeria at the same time while getting a reimbursement for a missionary for a trip to Eastern Malaysia to do youth ministry training this week and planning on the best way to send someone to Tanzania to encourage youth workers. Oh…that and the conversations with missionaries to Ukraine and Romania in between–not even counting the time I had this past weekend talking about hispanic youth ministry training in Miami. It’s fun to be part of this movement.”

To be honest, there are even more countries that are being impacted by our ministry. I didn’t mention trips to Cuba or even what is happening in various Asian countries that we are not allowed to mention.

It is so fun to be part of what God is doing around the world. I still LOVE ministering in Spanish, but to be a part of ministry to Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America is an incredible experience. All of the activity that we have in our ministry is the result of what God is doing. We’re just along for the ride.

Please pray for me as I try to keep up with what God is doing through YMI. I have a lot of responsibilities and need as much prayer as possible. Thanks!


Youth Ministry Training in…Miami?

I spent an exhausting weekend in Miami with Darwin, one of my former students and graduate from the MA program in Cuba. He moved to Miami a few months ago, but he still has the vision and desire to train youth workers.

After surveying the situation in Miami, he called our office and asked if we would think about and pray about the possibility of training youth workers for the hispanic churches in Miami. We prayed about it, thought about it, and decided to at least do something to empower him and the 2 other graduates who live there now.

This past weekend I flew to Florida to be with Darwin and the Florida Baptist Convention at an event called the Cumbre de Estudio Biblico, or the Bible Study Summit. Darwin and I shared some Biblical principles of youth ministry. To everyone’s surprise, our 2 hour workshop was packed. We made a lot of connections and talked with many different youth leaders from Baptist churches in Miami.

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Florida Trip March 2017

Darwin, one of my friends and former students from Cuba, called me a few months ago to ask for YMI’s help to start youth ministry training in Miami. He also put me in touch with the Florida Baptist Convention’s hispanic division and they invited me to share a workshop at a conference they are having on March 11. I’ll be sharing twice in the morning and once in the evening at Darwin’s church.

While I’m there, I am going to take a week all over Florida to share about our ministry with Youth Ministry International.

Since we are support-based but live in the USA, we don’t have specific times to do “home ministry,” or time to get in touch with current donors and potential partners of our ministry. In the past we would come back to the USA from Mexico City to share with donors and those who were interested in our ministry.

This is a “mini-furlough” for me.

My goal for my trip is to share with as many people as possible about what is happening. Lately, I have been privileged to train youth workers in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Europe, and I’m excited to share all of this with new people.

I wrote this on our Facebook page last week about how people can help my trip to Florida:

  • Pray that I will be able to make appointments with the correct people while in Florida.
  • Pray about the possibility of partnering with us financially. If you’re not in Florida and would like to be a part of our ministry by supporting our family financially, just respond to this email and let me know. If you’re in Florida, I would be more than happy to meet with you for coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream, a walk on the beach, or anything else you might want to meet over to talk about the possibility of partnering with our ministry.
  • Consider hosting a dessert night with people who are interested in missions and/or youth ministry who may also be open to supporting our family financially.
  • Put me in touch with leadership of your church to see if they would be willing to meet with me while I’m in Florida on this very specific trip.

If you live in Florida, I’m looking forward to connecting with you. Please let me know if we can get together.

(Photo by Bob Jagendorf)


Why We (Also) Do Informal Youth Ministry Training

If you know anything about our ministry with Youth Ministry International, you know that we talk a lot about formal training and that we focus a lot of our energy on Seminary programs that will systematically train youth workers for local churches.

You may not even know that we do “informal” youth ministry training…but we do.

In fact, while I was in Mexico teaching a Seminary course about “Youth and Family Ministry,” Claudia, the director of the Seminary program, was in Merida, teaching a weekend conference on youth ministry.

Today I got this message on Facebook from a young man who was at the training event with her:

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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