The Center for Youth Ministry at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary just started its 10th year of training youth workers. That’s right. Last week, Janell and I celebrated our 11th year of living in Mexico, and Randy Smith, the President of Youth Ministry International, was here to help us begin the new year at the Seminary.
Randy came to speak at the convocation service at the Seminary and stayed to co-teach a youth ministry class at the Seminary. It was a good class, and we are excited about what this year holds for us as a family and for the youth ministry program here in Mexico. We have three new students studying youth ministry at the Seminary, and they are really good guys. I’ll post a picture of them soon. The three new students matches the size of our largest group of new students. That may not sound like a lot, but in a culture where youth ministry is not common, it is a great new group. They also make up 25% of the incoming freshmen, so the number is good.
It’s hard to believe that this is the 10th year of classes at this institution. That means I have been teaching youth ministry for a decade. We have seen some advances, and I believe that youth ministry is growing faster than ever in Latin America.
Maybe sometime this year we will be able to officially celebrate the 10 years of training we have been doing, inviting all of the alumni back to celebrate with us would be fun.
We have been training youth workers in Mexico for more than 10 years, and the Bachelor’s degree program has been met with a lot of excitement but at the same time difficulty because of the fact that it is a full time program that requires studies from 7 AM until 3 PM ever weekday (except Monday).
Last January we started a Master’s in Youth Ministry degree program at the Seminary here. We had two visiting professors come and teach for two weeks. Last week, we had the next two classes in the series, and it went great.
The visiting professor is a pastor from Cuba that graduated from the MA there a few years ago. He is now studying a Doctorate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. The goal of Youth Ministry International is to train trainers, and this is exactly the kind of ministry multiplication we are constantly seeking to develop as an organization.
This weekend we started another round of the Certificate in Youth Ministry at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary. Huberto, our first graduate from the bachelor’s program, is teaching this month’s class.
The Certificate level program was needed because there are many youth leaders in Mexico who are volunteers. They want and need training, but they still have jobs during the week. Many of them sacrifice to come to the program every Saturday for a year.
Saturday we had a student from Ixtapaluca, a suburb of Mexico City about 2 and a half hours from the Seminary (on Saturday in good traffic). Another student came from Morelos, a state about 3 hours south of where the Seminary is located. They are willing to make the trip to get training.
The classes are every Saturday morning from 9 to 1, and the program lasts a year. Please pray for these students and their professors as we spend this coming year teaching youth ministry to these dedicated leaders.
One of the best parts of this past weekend took place on Saturday at an event I was invited to participate in. It was a forum for parents and younger teenagers (12-16) that was designed to help them improve the communication between them, and it was organized by some of my former students, Oscar and Anna.
Oscar invited me to share with the parents, which was a little intimidating since I don’t have teenagers of my own. The topic of my talk was “10 Principles for Communicating with Teenagers.” We talked about many things while my friend Dante was sharing with the teenagers.
At the end, the pastor had the families come together and pray about how they could better communicate and get along with each other. It was a powerful time as parents were crying and hugging their children, and the children were hugging and affirming their parents. I was proud to be a part of an event that is helping families grow stronger.
Last weekend we celebrated graduation at the Seminary here in Mexico City. We graduated 2 bachelor’s degree students, 2 students who studied almost all of the youth ministry courses at the Bachelor’s level, and 8 Certificate level students.
We are very proud of every single one of them. They all have incredible stories, and God is doing great things both in their lives and through their ministries. We wish all of you could meet them and hear their stories.
We are also grateful for Edgar and Karyna, our teammates and fellow professors, who have been helping us teach classes since January. They have been of much assistance to us both personally and professionally. We are excited to have them with us, training youth workers in Latin America.