For the third straight year I will be participating in the National Youth Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City from May 17-18. It’s an honor to be able to help plan and then teach at one of the largest gatherings of youth leaders in the country.
ReAcción, the book we published with four Bible study lessons for youth groups, has been downloaded more than 1000 times since July 2012. The other day, I received the following testimony from Kelly a youth leader in Guatemala:
“I am very happy to have found your youth ministry site, which I consider a special tool that allows us to continue in the ministry with young people. Thank you for the site.
I want to share a story from last Sunday in my church. I downloaded the book Reaccion, and I taught the first lesson last Sunday. When I finished teaching my class, I asked all the young people who was sure who Jesus was. Most of them responded that they were sure they knew Him, but there were some who responded, “no.” Right then I talked with them and invited them to receive Jesus, and one of the girls gave her heart to Christ. It was something very special, and I was so happy because of the decision she made. I will continue with the others so that they can all have an encounter with Jesus in their lives.
God is using the lesson series, and it brings us joy to be able to empower youth leaders to guide young people towards Jesus. Who knows how many other stories there are like this. Thank you for your support of our ministry.
We are working on publishing several other projects that will help youth leaders all over the world.
Ever since last July when Josue and Kareny graduated, we have been thinking and praying and planning about opening a Certificate level course in Monterrey. Since they are from this city with 4 million inhabitants, we thought it would be a great fit, and they have been working tirelessly to help us partner with the Baptist Institute that is there. They even taught an informal training seminar there last December.
Everything seems to be in place. After a few months of negotiating, we have reached an agreement with the Institute, and it appears that classes will start in April of this year.
Please pray that registration will go well and many of the youth leaders in Monterrey will be able to receive the training they are seeking in order to better serve the families of this important Mexican region.d
It’s hard to believe that 2012 is coming to a close! We are grateful to God for all the good things He has done during this year of ministry. This newsletter is dedicated to appreciating 2012 and anticipating the future of youth ministry training in Latin America.
A Few of the Stories We Appreciate From 2012
- Juan, who graduated in 2011, and returned to his home state of Oaxaca, took the initiative to begin 2 certificate in youth ministry programs. He has walked with and trained more than 30 other youth worker and seen God double the size of his own local church youth group.
- Josue and Kareny graduated in June 2012 and went to their hometown of Monterrey in the north of Mexico. They started a group to train youth leaders in their region and have seen it grow to around 80 people. They held their first training conference in November and are negotiating with a local Seminary to begin a certificate program in January.
- The Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary has agreed to host a professorial program similar to the ministry we did in Cuba and will train youth ministry professors at the Master’s level in order to open as many as 5 Centers for Youth Ministry in Mexico in the next 3 years. We are moving forward with these plans for 2013.
- We have also seen God add to our team of trainers, bringing us Chris and Hannah Bond (who are raising support) and Maykel who is helping part time from Miami.
- Other things we appreciate are: FBC Ozona and their mission house to stay in while stateside, our faithful team of prayer supporters who especially joined with us while Nathan was in the hospital, and those who have sustained the ministry financially during the last year.
Thank you for being part of our life and ministry in 2012. We are anticipating 2013.
Besides training at the formal level at Seminaries and Bible colleges, we also do informal conferences and seminars in order to train local church youth workers with a Biblical philosophy of youth ministry that they can apply to their ministries. In Mexico, we have branded this one or two-day conference as “El Gran Viaje”, which means, The Great Journey.
We talk about how on any great journey, or road trip, you have to know where you are, where you want to go, and how you are going to get there. Then we talk about youth culture, the goal of youth ministry and how to help young people move towards spiritual maturity.
This weekend, in Monterrey, two of our graduates (Josue and Kareny) taught “The Great Journey” to 44 youth leaders from 20 local churches. They went all out and did an incredible job. Here are some pictures from their Saturday workshop.
One of our colleagues wrote this update earlier this year, and I think it’s helpful to understand the direction of our organization, Youth Ministry International, throughout the world.
The man often called “The Father of Modern Missions” inspired people with these words: “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” (“for God” and “from God” was added later, but appropriate). Here are some of the great things that YMI is attempting:
Our President, Dr. Randy Smith, began taking youth groups on missions trips decades ago. As those missions trips experienced blessings and fruit from local outreach, he quickly began to see a huge issue that needed to be addressed. It was great to see young people come to Christ, but what happens after the American youth ministry leaves? Who is left to follow up with discipleship and continue the evangelism? Local leaders obviously needed to be developed among the national adult Christians. So he started YMI over twenty years ago.
As YMI began sending missionaries and other short-term workers to train national leaders to lead youth ministries in local churches, the focus was completely on informal training (i.e. not through formal courses in a Bible school or seminary). As YMI trained leaders in the cross-cultural principles of youth ministry, it immediately had an impact. However, there was still a major issue. As Randy wrote in his dissertation,
This weekend I’ll be at the Youth Leadership Convention in Orlando. It is a yearly gathering of youth workers from all over Latin America hosted by Especialidades Juveniles, the Spanish arm of Youth Specialties.
We have been working together with team from Especialidades Juveniles in Mexico for the last 2 years. I’ve spoken at some of their events, written for their magazine, and they have helped organize youth leaders’ networking events throughout the country. They also asked me to contribute to a new study Bible for youth workers that is coming out this January.
I’m looking forward to going to the event and networking with leaders from all over Latin America. It will be good to meet up with people who I have met through our website ministeriojuvenil.com. I’m also hoping to make contacts with key people who will be able to help carry out the vision for future of Youth Ministry International in Latin America.
I’m hoping to tell you all about my adventures on Monday (and even as they happen, if possible). Stay tuned…