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The Last Three Years – Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I talked about a little part of the graduation last week. It was the result of 3 long, hard years of work.

Today, I wanted to write about some of the results that we’ve seen because of the Master’s in Youth Ministry program that we completed (in part) last week. All of this is what is happening in youth ministry in the country of Cuba and beyond.

It’s just a small slice of what is happening, but I hope it gives you an idea of what this incredible team is doing.

What can you do with a Master’s degree in youth ministry?

  • One student has seen his youth group triple in size since he started taking the courses in the program.
  • One student says that the training from the program is the backbone of what they are doing in youth ministry for his entire denomination.
  • One student has seen his youth group grow at a record pace, both in numbers and in depth.
  • One student is using the principles he learned to begin a ministry to university students.
  • One student feels that God wants him to be a full time youth pastor and plans to seek a youth ministry position as soon as he fulfills his obligations as a senior pastor.

What can you do as a youth ministry trainer?

  • There is a Center for Youth Ministry in 3 different seminaries throughout the country. There’s another one that will be started in another seminary this year.
  • There is talk about starting a program at another Bible institute in Pinar del Rio in the western part of the country.
  • In the Eastern Baptist Convention, they have begun to train trainers. There are 22 students preparing to be professors of youth ministry.
  • Many of the students have expressed interest in carrying the vision to other nations by training in other countries, using the same modular format that was used with them.
  • One of the students has begun a “national network of youth workers,” uniting youth workers throughout the country.

There are many other things that have happened to all of us on a personal level. In the next part of this series, I hope to write about how I have changed as a result of being a part of this incredible journey.

Picture: The team on top of the seminary

The Last Three Years – Part 1

The last three years of my life have been invested in a project that has grown very dear to my heart. Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to see thirteen of my favorite people in the world graduate with a Master’s Degree in youth ministry.

It has been a long journey. Personally, it has been an exhausting three years, traveling each January and June, arranging for visas, charter tickets, domestic tickets, raising awareness, translating, planning, preparing, and teaching classes. I personally taught 6 and a half of the 12 courses for the Master’s program in youth ministry.

For the students, it was 3 years of reading, pre-class assignments, post-class assignments, weeks away from family, amidst personal and professional struggles. Every student involved in the program is also involved in full time ministry, leaving little time for anything else.

But the culminating moment came on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, when they called the name of 13 of my friends, associates, and students to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas from the Santa Clara Seminary, or the Baptist Seminary of Havana, or the Baptist Seminary in Santiago, or from New Pines Seminary. To see the look of accomplishment and joy on their faces gave me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy.

The investment of three years has more than paid off. We are seeing a mighty work of God in Latin America, and I’m humbled to be part of it.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll write about what these students are doing with their degrees. It’s amazing.

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Back from Cuba

I got back from Cuba on Saturday morning, after 12 long days of work there. We culminated 3 years of classes with the 4 seminaries with whom we were working there. I’ll write more. Right now I’m uploading pictures from the trip. I will be taking some time in the next few days to write about my thoughts, so stay tuned.

Just a Quick Note

I’m writing this note from the office of the Center for Youth Ministry at the Baptist Seminary in Santa Clara, Cuba. We’ve had a great time with the team here, and we’ll be finishing up tomorrow morning with classes.

Everyone’s family is coming in for graduation that takes place tomorrow night. It is the graduation for the entire seminary, and the graduating class of 13 Master’s Degree students in youth ministry will be the largest group graduating.

It’s been 3 years of hard work, but it’s been great. I’ll write more later, but I wanted to let you know what’s going on.

Off to Cienfuegos

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Miami, waiting my trip to Cuba for one last class in the youth ministry program.

Tomorrow morning, I take off for Cienfuegos and then to Santa Clara. I’ll be co-teaching the last class in the three year youth ministry program with Randy Smith, the President of Youth Ministry International.

Next week, we’ll have a graduation. I’ll take tons of pics and video, and I’ll put it up when I get back.

Unknown Heroes

There are people in life that do great things but go unseen, or their legacy is known to only a few. Today as I was grading papers from my class on Camps and Retreats, I came across one such hero.

Helen Black was a missionary in Cuba long before the revolution. She arrived in Cuba in the 40’s and founded an interdenominational campground known as “Mi Campamento.” Her work with young people raised up some of the greatest Christians who would carry on the work of the gospel in a country where it hasn’t always been easy to be a Christian.

She was also a professor at the New Pines Seminary, and “Aunt Helen” was known for her ability to teach the Bible. She loved Cuba and dedicated her life to the Cuban people. She died in Cuba at the age of 84, but her legacy lives on in the lives of Christian leaders and young people who still attend activities at the camp she founded.

I pray that my life can have an impact like Helen’s life did. She may not be known to man, but she had an eternal impact in the Kingdom of God.

What about you? Do you have any good stories of unknown heroes who have impacted you or the lives of those around you?

(Sources: CIMPEC; Noticias)

Youth Ministry Certification

Youth Ministry International offers certification for youth workers who have demonstrated certain qualifications for ministry. In fact, there are 52 essential qualities for a certified youth worker. We basically see these qualities as our goals for the students in the Centers for Youth Ministry throughout the world.

The essential qualities fall under 5 categories: skills, character, knowledge, programming, and academic and experiential training. Receiving the certification also allows the youth worker to conduct training and seminars on behalf of Youth Ministry International.

Almost one year ago, on May 27, 2007, YMI certified the first youth worker in the Ukraine. Today, we gave Huberto his youth ministry certification. He is the first Latin American youth worker that Youth Ministry International has certified, and it was an honor to be able to give him his certificate at his church this morning.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in his church and community now that he’s finished his seminary degree (of course, I am encouraging him to continue his education, but he’s finished for now). He should have more time to dedicate to the ministry, and he’s already doing a great job.

I could see today how great of a relationship he has with his students, and I could tell that they were looking for him for counsel. It was great to see him in action.

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