IFES Latin America week 2018

Pray for the students of Latin America

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From pioneering work in Cuba to an arts festival in Guatemala, environmental outreach projects and drama performances of Mark’s gospel, the IFES Latin America region is full of creative students who want others to know Jesus and to see the gospel transform their societies. But there are massive challenges as well — both in the universities and in wider society.

Let’s learn more about the region together, hear from students and pray together. Keep reading this article for an introduction to student ministry in the region. Meet students from the region by following IFES on Facebook and Instagram.

IFES now speaks Spanish on Instagram! Follow us @ifesworldes

Challenges in Latin America

Students in Latin America live in a broken society. Inequality and violence are greater in Latin America than in any other region of the world. 28% of the population live in poverty. In 2017, several countries in this region suffered the onslaught of hurricanes and earthquakes that brought devastation and sorrow to many. At the university level, problems of corruption, sexual violence, academic desertion and alcohol abuse abound.

Facing this reality, one asks: where is the Church?

It’s true that the Church has seen numerical growth in the region. Sadly that has not been accompanied by the Christian maturity that can transform society. In many evangelical sectors, the church keeps its distance from the brokenness around because of a mistaken concept of ‘holiness’.

Student ministry in Latin America

Living distinctive, godly lives in this context is a daily challenge for university students.

But it’s also an amazing opportunity to show the radical and holistic transformation Jesus brings. In May this year GEU Guatemala students are putting on an anti-violence arts festival called ‘Life’. Through live music, seminars, interactive stands and murals, they hope to raise awareness among students of the issues behind the high rates of violence in their country, and give students the opportunity to hear about the life Jesus brings. Over in Nicaragua, sponsored by the IFES Innovation program, CECNIC students recently ran a project called ‘God’s Green Action’. It combined Biblical teaching, practical service and evangelistic outreach on campus.

Across the twenty national movements in the region, there is much to celebrate. Christian students are boldly sharing their faith, living with integrity and engaging in dialogue with the university world. Students are seeing their friends come to faith.

Today’s university students who embrace the call to be missionaries in the university will be tomorrow’s professionals and leaders. Shaped by the values of the kingdom themselves, they will be agents of change in their family, church, work, social and political environment.

Despite the challenging context, student ministry is having a tremendous impact across the region, as David Bahena, Latin America Regional Secretary, reflects:

“There is not a more strategic ministry in the world today than student ministry. I’ve seen its power and influence when it comes to transforming professionals, politicians, business people, pastors, missionaries and NGO leaders with a vision of the kingdom of God. There is nothing better than seeing a student give their life to Jesus and then seeing how God uses that life to impact their family, their generation and their world.”

Meet students from Latin America:

Each day this week we’ll be sharing stories and prayer requests from students across Latin America. Join us on a journey across the region on Facebook and Instagram. How about printing off the map of the region and taking some prayer points to a prayer meeting you have this week?

Engaging with the issues of Latin America:

Two of the major societal problems affecting the lives of students today are corruption and the environment. Both issues offer opportunities for students to demonstrate and share the gospel with those around them.

2017 will be remembered by many in Latin America for the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and neighbouring Caribbean islands. ABU Puerto Rico staff-worker José Julio Martínez reflected on the impact of the natural disaster on the nation and the inspiring example of students who responded with courage and love.

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