This past Saturday, the Seminary had a big publicity event. My participation in the event was to help the youth ministry students with our information booth, teach a youth ministry seminar, and organize a skit for one of the worship times. The event was a huge success.
There were more than 300 people at the event (which was our attendance goal), and during the two seminar times, my youth ministry workshop was packed. I spoke about the goal of youth ministry to more than 100 prospective students. We handed out fliers and collected names at our booth. I even ran out of business cards.
There is a great thirst for youth ministry training in Latin America. I believe that we are living in a time where youth ministry training is about to explode both in Mexico and other places in the world. It is humbling and exciting to be a part of what God is doing.
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Yesterday I received this email from one of my former students who lives in the Western part of Cuba. It is awesome to celebrate multiplication of ministry.
Here’s a translation of what he wrote to me.
Hi Dennis…How are you profe? How’s your family? We are fine. I’ve been wanting to write you for some time, but I had lost my email access. Now a friend is letting me use this one.
God is working in a great way around here. Many doors are being opened as far as youth ministry is concerned. Right now, I am teaching three different groups. In the Seminary, I am teaching Professional Orientation to youth ministry.
In our church’s Bible Institute, I am teaching a semester of Introduction to Youth Ministry (Principles of Youth Ministry) to the freshmen Pastoral ministries and missions students. I’m also teaching a youth ministry specialization to a group each Saturday morning. I’m teaching this group the basic of all of the classes, the essentials. Five churches from our province are being blessed by this training.
Also, they have invited me to teach Philosophy of Youth Ministry in the National Seminary of another Baptist denomination. Isn’t this a divine, amazing work?
In our church, the Youth Ministry is taking form little by little. There is a group of leaders that are catching the vision. We have 4 leaders working with the age group of 12-15 and four with the young people who are aged 16-24. We created 14 groups that are cared for and counseled by 14 older youth who are spiritually mature. We are working with more than 90 young people. I am serving as adviser and counselor to the ministry. We are very content.
I greatly desired to tell you this because I know that it will make you happy and besides you have a significant part in all of this. To God be the glory. Thank you for your help.
Remember that when you return, I would like for you to spend some time with me and my family.
Your student and friend…
It’s amazing to see what God is doing all over the world, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.
(Photos by: Gracias!)
For a while now, we’ve been thinking about a way to expand the youth ministry training we do in Mexico. We already started one of the only Bachelor’s degrees in youth ministry in Latin America. But we know that it’s not enough to offer a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry.
Although the bachelor’s program has been growing, we recognize that not everyone who is working with young people can come to the Seminary full time for training. With the problems that come from living in Mexico City, it makes it difficult to do a lot of informal training.
Saturday was the first day of the long-awaited Diploma in youth ministry. We started with 6 students who are working in various churches. Each one of them told us how important it is to get training in youth ministry, and they are all very happy to have this informal type of training.
The purpose of the diploma program is obviously to provide practical training for youth workers as well as promote the other youth ministry programs at the Seminary.
We are praying that this Saturday morning course (9 months out of the year) will help many local church youth workers and spread throughout the country.
We’ll keep you up to date with this new program, which we think will grow and expand in the coming months.
One thing I’ve learned in my time in ministry (and especially missions) is that you have to be ready with an alternative plan.
Randy Smith, the president of YMI, is scheduled to go to Cuba this Friday to teach a class for the Seminary in Santiago. We’ve been diligently planning the trip for months, purchasing tickets, getting visas, preparing the class, and all the things that have to be done for a trip. But I got an email from Randy the other day.
He’s having health issues, and it looks like he might not be going on the trip after all. He still hasn’t been able to make a final decision, but we are waiting to see what happens. All of us are on hold. The professors in Cuba who invited him are on hold. He’s on hold. I’m on hold. The office staff at YMI are on hold. We’re all investigating “plan B.”
In Latin America, “plan B” isn’t very popular. When I teach it in my programming class, the students all nod their head in approval, but I doubt that they ever have a very defined Plan B.
But as I think about myself, I don’t really have a plan B either usually. The word plan usually means something that is thought out ahead of time. However, usually if something happens to my “plan A”, I’m forced to try to wing it. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes that’s a bad thing. It just depends.
Anyway, please be praying for Randy as he goes through these health issues. Pray for the project in Cuba and the guys there who are forced to react to this situation. I’m sure they’ll do well. They’ve been taught all about plan b in the classroom. And they all nodded in approval.
The Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, at a recent meeting of heads of state in Latin America, said, “Hope must be offered to young people who don’t believe in anything.”
Even the President of Mexico realizes that young people need help. The interesting thing is that there are many people in the church (even in our Seminary) who think that youth ministry is a waste of time.
My students have to deal day in and day out with people telling them that they are wasting their time studying to minister to young people.
I tell them that there is a great need out there for people who really care about young people and who want to invest their lives influencing the next generation. It’s an ongoing struggle for them, but I know that they are committed to offering to these young people something to believe in.
It’s been a great week. I can’t wait to hear what my students say on Monday when they come back from their churches where they work. I know that they will be used this weekend as they offer hope to the hopeless generation here in Mexico.
(Photo of Mexican President and the President of San Salvador at a recent conference)