Population: 6.7 million (2012)
Official languages: Spanish, Guarani
Major religion: Christianity
IFES movement: Grupo Biblico Universitario del Paraguay (GBUP)
Paraguay has long been one of the Latin America’s poorest and most isolated countries, but has experienced rapid economic growth since the turn of the 21st century. Nearly a third of its people live in the capital city, as population growth, the commercialisation of agriculture, and forest clearances having led to a dramatic increase in the number of landless families.
The country lived under more than three decades of dictatorship until 1989, and still suffers political instability. 93% of Paraguayans are mestizos (Spanish-Guarani), making Paraguay one of the most homogeneous countries in Latin America. Roman Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, mainline Protestantism, Judaism, Mormonism, and the Baha'i Faith are all prominent religious groups.
- 8 public universities, 63 private
- 2 part-time workers and 3 volunteers
- no graduates ministry
- largest group is in Gran Asuncion, 90 students
- smallest group is in Santani, in the interior of the country
GBUP has seen an awakening of Christian students. Considered a re-pioneered movement, student workers have been visiting cities in the interior of the country where there are universities but where Christian students are unaware of the ministry of GBUP. Many are being challenged to be agents of reconciliation in their context. One of the challenges before GBUP is to create an advisory board for the movement.
View from the inside
Oscar Ocampos is a staff worker with GBUP and for him, ‘student ministry is really a calling. Even when I was a student, I had a passion for and commitment to student work. I'm excited to now see students who have a strong vision to transform the university and to be the protagonists of change in the society in which they live. To be a Christian and to know it is important, but more important is to be a Christian and show it.
‘John 15:15 inspires me: “I no longer call you servants…instead I have called you friends.” To present Jesus as a friend is to introduce students to life.’
- for growth in numbers and impact, especially for the small groups in the interior of the country;
- for passion and commitment for all involved in student ministry.