Mexico City, the most populous urban concentration in the Americas, is a beautiful but dangerous place to live. Since the government went to war against the Mexican drug cartels, more than 28,000 deaths have been reported to date. Mexicans face many struggles such as, a very depressed economy, the declining value of the Peso, an H1N1 (Swine Flu) epidemic that virtually stopped a city of 32 million in its tracks, constant controversy over immigration. These stories, and those about the war on drugs, pervade the news. Though traditionally Roman Catholic, most inhabitants have no living faith. But there is another story to tell – the story of a gospel movement among the youth in Mexico City.
B & K came to Mexico City in 2006. They became involved in caring ministries to abused people and worked with the youth of a church plant. They began helping out with Open Hearts Ministry (Corazones Abiertos) that helps wounded, abused, and broken people on their journey to wholeness in Jesus Christ using grace groups. K. has become involved with a grace group in the local church and also works with Casa de DAYA, a holistic project ministering to girls off the streets and un-wed mothers. Some of the youth help her in this work as they pursue new ways to cultivate spiritual growth in the girls.
They mentored a college student, Atl, who helped them with the youth. One morning in 2007, Atl introduced them to Emily, the local director of Campus Crusade for Christ. Some of their youth began attending Campus Crusade Bible studies and networking with other Christians. At one point they met José Nolasco, a vibrant young Mexican leader and B. traveled with him on University campuses meeting students with a heart for Christ.
In 2008, B. began teaching English as a Second Language at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and leading Bible studies with José at a local high school with more than 10,000 students, and at two downtown universities. They began meeting with a group called Juventud Misionera Mexicana (Young Mexican Missionaries or JMM). Each of the JMM groups (meeting on many university campuses) has their own campus leaders – lay men and women teaching Scripture and leading times of prayer. They conclude each meeting with a meal shared together. Interest in new authentic expressions of church continues to grow amongst the young Mexican students.
Their enthusiasm is spreading, too. One evening during a velada (an all-night prayer meeting), B. heard a knock at the door. A well-dressed gentleman asked if he could join them in prayer. He was the Dean of the College at the Fes Arragon campus. He confided, “I believe in these students who call themselves ‘Christ followers.’”
JMM, ReachGlobal, and YWAM partnered with a Pentecostal Church called Alcance Victoria (Victory Worship Church) to do an outreach event in the City. This church, which started inside an Alcoholics Anonymous building, continuously enters into an area known for violence and drug trafficking, an area that has a shrine to the Saint of Death (Santo Muerte – often worshiped by the Drug Lords). The youth movement that started with just a few Bible studies now includes a church service on Sunday and evangelistic events in parks, schools and apartment complexes in at least five major districts. During these last 2 years, the JMM has grown to 100 students on the Fes Arragon campus alone, and another 100 students on various other campuses, and these young people have made major advances on two campuses outside of Mexico City.
As B. spent more time with the students, he sensed their longing for a solid church to attend and their vision expanded from leading Bible studies to actually planting a church. He identified some core leaders and began to focus more of my energy on them to start a new church, Iglesia del Rey (The King’s Church). Currently, members of the church are setting up cell groups in four areas of Mexico City and plan to start daughter churches and support other ministries. A youth discipleship movement is giving birth to a church planting movement. They were recently given a building to use as a gathering place for a new church and a training center for lay volunteer workers.