Last week I took a trip to Torreon, Mexico, to teach a class on “Ministering to Troubled Youth.” But the experiences I took away from the trip taught me more than I think I shared in class.

Torreon is a city with the slogan, “The City that Defeated the Desert.” Well, to begin with, it was 104 degrees each day, and the desert heat is exhausting. It’s a good idea to avoid Torreon in June.

Recently, the area known as “La Laguna” has been hit hard by violence. The people who live there are accustomed to hearing about different things that happen around town. But this Mexico City boy is not used to hearing such things.

The first day of class, one of my students stood up and shared that one of the members of his church had just been kidnapped, so he would not be able to attend the rest of the class. I later found out that this same pastor (my student) had been kidnapped in 2009. I remember we prayed for him when I visited Torreon the last time. Later that day, the lady from his church was returned.

Thursday, we were in the middle of class when we got news that one of the pastors in town, the uncle of one of the students, was missing. We prayed for him and continued with the class. Later that day, right before the last session of class, we found out that he had been found dead. I was searching for words to help my students cope with this, and I couldn’t come up with anything. I asked David, the director of the Seminary, to play another song on the guitar so I could figure out how to continue the class.

After he had played 2 songs, I stood up and told my students, “You are heroes. It is easy for someone like me to visit and go home, but the real heroes here are those of you who are ministering day in and day out in this area. We will commit to pray for you all as you live and share the gospel in this city.

On Friday, we attended the funeral of the pastor who had recently planted his church and was seeing some great things happen there. We prayed for his family and the work that he had begun.

I’ll never forget last week’s trip to “The City that Defeated the Desert.” Will you join me by praying for these pastors and youth leaders in Torreon?