Sunday, 10am, blue sky, 21°C. The morning sunshine lights up rows of brightly-coloured houses. The shops are just opening up for the day, but already there’s a cheerful bustle in the streets. Tourists clutching selfie-sticks meander around the historic city, trying to take it all in: the 23 metre-high aqueduct, the 17th century architecture, the vineyards, the mountains. The locals, familiar with their idyllic surroundings, are busy going about their weekend errands or heading to church for morning Mass. This is Querétaro: beautiful, vibrant, alive.
Yet Querétaro lies in an area of Mexico known by Christians as: ‘the Circle of Silence’. Despite persistent missionary effort, the region has proved notoriously difficult to penetrate with the gospel, and the percentage of evangelical Christians remains very low.
Querétaro is home to Monica, a staff worker with COMPA Mexico. She shared her reflections on doing student ministry in the Circle of Silence.
“The spiritual climate of the university is hard. There is a lot of opposition, a lot of indifference. Most students come from very Catholic families. Finding any who call themselves Christians is difficult. And when you find them, some do not respond to the call to share Jesus – they’re not interested; they’re not committed. Many don’t want to do evangelism because they’re afraid of rejection in such a heavily Catholic environment.
Such was the case of a Christian student we met at the university. We talked about COMPA and what we did, and he seemed to respond well. But when we began the training he told us this was not what he wanted to do; he appreciated our support, but he didn’t want to start a Bible study group.
We invited another student to join the ministry. She said that she was already serving in her church. She was going to pray about whether she should start a Bible study group. But I never heard back from her.
It is difficult to meet with these kinds of responses. They discourage us and make us wonder if we should continue at all. It hurts us to see that in the Circle of Silence, it’s common to experience opposition and rejection from both non-Christians and Christians.
Why I am here
It’s in these moments that I question the Lord’s call and wonder if I’m in the right place. But that’s when God, in His faithfulness and grace, leads me back to the reason why I am here:
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40 [NIV]
This is His will. God has put me and a team of workers in this area with the purpose of making His Son known, so that students may have eternal life. That’s why we stay. Even though the environment is hostile to the gospel and often the responses of students discourage us, the Lord helps us to persevere. We have confident hope that there will be some here who respond to the invitation to follow Jesus and proclaim His Word in the university.
Voices raised for Jesus
Praise God – there are small encouragements along the way. I was looking at the Bible with one student recently, and he responded: “If I want to do mission and see my friends change, I first need to let God change me.” Another student came along to an evangelistic event COMPA put on and told me: “This is what I need: to surround myself with people who help me to know Jesus and His Word.”
It’s encouraging to see that, in a context of religiosity and indifference to the gospel, God is at work here, changing the hearts of students. I am learning to see and trust His sovereignty in this region. My desire is to see more students meeting Jesus – the real Jesus who transforms lives, who brings hope, who fills the spiritual void that exists in the university. May there be many students in this generation who raise their voice for Jesus in the Circle of Silence!”
Please join us in praying that the gospel would take root and transform the universities of the Circle of Silence.