Is mission work still needed? Consider this: Of the world’s six billion-plus people, nearly 4.5 billion are not Christian. Of those, more than 1 billion will not even have a chance to hear about Jesus unless someone goes to tell them.
Guatemala is known for its natural beauty. Those who admire and enjoy its wonders call it “The Land of the Eternal Spring.” But for many decades that beauty has been smeared by natural disasters, a long history of internal war, dictatorships, corruption, and poverty. More recently, the country has experienced crime and violence at the hands of gangs.
The problem with gangs began about 20 years ago when young Latinos who were involved in criminal activities in the United States were deported to their native country. Today the youngsters belonging to gangs outnumber the police. Break-ins, robberies, kidnappings, rapes, and homicides have escalated to record levels. Residents have organized and armed themselves to patrol their streets at night.
In addition to the thousands of young people who belong to gangs, thousands more are trapped in alcoholism and drugs or suffer from AIDS.
The situation of young people in Guatemala and in many Latin American countries is critical. If churches are going to grow, multiply, and impact their communities, they need to develop strong youth ministries.
In 2003 World Missions appointed Rev. Joel Van Dyke as partner missionary to Guatemala. He serves under Youth Leadership, a national organization dedicated to the teaching and training of Christian youth leaders, both nationally and internationally.
Recently other international Christian organizations have joined Youth Leadership to form a network of youth ministries. Youth Leadership, Global Youth Ministry Network, and the Center for Transformational Mission have developed a Strategy for Transformation program, with a heavy emphasis on “incarnational ministries.” This program has been implemented in Nicaragua with a good level of success.
In Nicaragua, churches are engaged in youth evangelism and discipleship that includes soccer and baseball leagues. Ex-gang members who experience a conversion and complete the Strategy for Transformation program have been recognized by the authorities and have gotten their criminal records expunged. Many receive scholarships to complete their high school education, while others develop carpentry skills in a shop developed by local churches. The same strategy will soon be implemented in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama.
The lives of young people in Latin America are being transformed by the gospel, and we envision an abundant “harvest” of young souls.
CRWM has 250 missionaries in 25 countries around the world.
CRWM was established by synod in 1887.
CRWM sends missionaries for “a summer, a year, a career.”
CRWM has exciting opportunities for CRC members who are just beginning a career or for those ready to embark on a second career.