This past weekend I was perusing my Facebook feed when I saw a post that reminded me of why I am involved with Youth Ministry International.
One of my former students, Rafa, posted some pictures of a youth ministry event he had recently done in his church north of Mexico City.
I met Rafa in Monterrey years before he decided to come study at Seminary. I was in his city to do an informal, weekend youth ministry seminar, and he was one of the guys who volunteered to take me around town to see the sites on our day off. I went with him downtown and lots of other places. He even took me to eat “cabrito,” one of the traditional dishes in Monterrey. We shared some laughs and talked a lot about ministry and what God was doing in his life. We still talk about our time together that weekend to this day.
For the first time since the foundation of the Center for Youth Ministry in Mexico, I watched the graduation ceremony online from the United States. Edgar Miranda has taken the mantle and done an excellent job training the students while giving them a practical example of youth ministry in his own local church.
His dedication to the CYM and the cause of youth ministry is evident in the lives of those who graduated this year. When I visited the certificate level courses in Mexico City in April, the room was full of over 20 students who were discussing how to better minister to the young people in their churches and communities. Their impact will only grow as they continue to receive the training necessary to better walk alongside young people in the light of the gospel.
Read more at the Youth Ministry International page.
Rafa, one of the graduates from our program in Mexico City and youth pastor in a town called Ojo de Agua, said, “When I was younger I believed that pastors only worked on Sunday, but now that I’m in youth ministry, I often remember the words of my professors reminding me that what happens throughout the week is just as important.” He was speaking at the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Center for Youth Ministry in Mexico City.
There have been more than 65 graduates from the Bachelor’s and Certificate programs throughout the country, and more than 19,000 young people are attending churches that have youth ministers trained by YMI representatives.
I was in Mexico City last week for the celebration as well as to teach a week long intensive course on Discipleship and Mentoring of Young People. There were 9 students from all over the country, and I had a great time teaching them principles that will help them be better mentors and disciplers of young people in their local church context.
“I have been wanting to train others in youth ministry since I graduated,” Chaire (pronounced Chi-Ray) said as we sat at Starbucks in Guadalajara with her husband Miguel and their little boy. “I just haven’t had an opportunity.”
Hearing those words come from her gave me goosebumps because earlier that day I was speaking with the director of the local Seminary about the possibility to begin a Certificate program at their institution. He was asking me what it would take to start training youth workers and my response was, “Someone who is qualified to lead the program and teach the courses.”
My favorite assignments that I give to my students are the ones where they have to go out and have real life interaction with young people. I feel that these experiences give them more learning opportunities than when they just create something on paper.
One of my all-time favorite assignment of all of the curriculum that we teach as Youth Ministry International is the one where the students break into small groups and have to study a sub-culture. They are basically doing ethnographic research to identify the culture to use it the culture, to reach the culture.
This past bimester I was teaching Youth Culture, and my students have had to go out and do cultural research. One of the groups was studying skaters in Mexico City (one of my all time favorite sub-cultures that brings me back to my days as youth pastor at North Dunedin Baptist Church).
As they were doing their research, my students met a skateboarding young man from Honduras. They asked him, “What could the church do for you?” He responded, “Give me food to eat and help me get off of drugs.”
This is youth ministry. There are thousands of young people just like this guy who need someone to come alongside him and help him practically and spiritually.
The other day in class, they were talking about bringing him a blanket and helping him more. I pray that this is one Seminary assignment that they continue following through with.
In January 2014, Youth Ministry International started an initiative to train professors for youth ministry in Mexico. The Master’s in Youth Ministry has 10 students. After one year of classes, we asked three of them to talk about how the program has helped their youth ministry at their local church.
What really makes me most excited about this video is seeing how they have come together as a team to really minister to the young people of their church and not just plan activities for them.
The plan for the Master’s program is to train those who can train others. Yuri already taught a youth ministry workshop at a National Youth Conference that I was invited to but couldn’t attend because of our YMI Summit in Athens.
Our strategy for Master’s programs is taken from the idea of 2 Timothy 2:2, which says, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 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.”
We want to see young men and women trained to be able to train others in the ministry. I think we’re off to a great start with these three.