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.
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. 😀
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.
This past week my friend Frank Mills went to teach the 9th course in a 12 course training program at Nassa Theological College (NTC) in Mwanza, Tanzania. While he was there, I asked him to research some statistics about the impact of the ministry there in that East African country. Here’s what he sent back.
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.