Christian Youth Movement of Honduras (Movimiento Juvenil Cristiano de Honduras) Focus - Youth Gangs VISION Rescue youth in crisis by leading them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and forming New Testament churches God is at work through the Christian Youth Movement of Honduras to transform youth gangs into congregations of believers in Christ. Over 120,000 Honduran young people are involved in gangs, drugs, alcoholism, robbery, prostitution and other vices used by Satan to destroy lives. The focus of CYM is to reach youth groups with the Gospel through sports, community service and vocational rehabilitation. As gangs participate in these activities, they hear and study God’s Word in homes, store fronts, alley ways, high schools and prisons. Young people accept Christ as they hear and study God’s Word in the context of their group. The gangs convert to congregations of believers as youth are transformed through a personal relationship with Christ.
Christian Youth Movement - Honduras Growth of Youth Congregations January 1998 - June 2001 Youth Congregations Jan 98 - 1 Dec 98 - 22 Dec 99 - 63 Jun 01 - 80 Note: CYM has spread to ten different cities in Honduras.
Christian Youth Movement - Honduras Growth of Membership January 1998 - June 2001 Members of CYM Congregations Jan 98 - 40 Dec 98 - 1,100 Dec 99 - 3,200 Jun 01 - 6,900 Note: Approximately 75% of congregated youth have accepted Christ (5,000+). A member of CYM participates in a congregation, but may not yet know Christ.
Christian Youth Movement - Background Armando and Ana Julia
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Background <ul><li>In 1997 a Honduran Baptist lay pastor, Armando Meza, became burdened for lost young people searching for love and acceptance through local gangs. </li></ul><ul><li>Armando began prayer groups in the local church with special seasons of prayer for young people. </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional youth services and programs did not work to bring in troubled youth. </li></ul><ul><li>Armando left his church in Tegucigalpa to serve as a church planter in another region of Honduras. He was able to experiment with other methods for reaching youth. In just a short time a new congregation made up of mostly young people was formed. </li></ul><ul><li>Armando suffered a heart attack and returned to recover at home in Tegucigalpa. He spent four months of bed rest seeking God in prayer and acquiring a new vision for his ministry. </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Background <ul><li>Armando turned down invitations to return as a pastor and continued as a bi-vocational missionary. However, this time his focus was on reaching young people, especially those involved in gangs. </li></ul><ul><li>In January of 1998 he established a relationship with a local gang offering help with soccer equipment and uniforms. In return the gang reluctantly met with him in Bible study in one of their homes. After several weeks, 27 of 40 gang members accepted Christ. </li></ul><ul><li>Armando found an adult neighbor (also a lost person) who volunteered to coach the youth gang teams (three different age groups from the same gang). An accountability system was put in place to assure that the young people would continue in Bible studies, attend organizational meetings (to plan soccer matches), follow a curfew and do homework (for those in school). </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Background <ul><li>Armando was unable to integrate the new believers into an established church. The gang members preferred to stay together and have their own Bible study/worship events. </li></ul><ul><li>Three more gangs observed what was going on and asked if they could join the “program”. A soccer league was organized with three age divisions and 12 teams from the four gangs. Four congregations began to form with over 120 youth. </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders initially came from the local Baptist church, with 8 Bible study leaders, two in each new congregation. Armando was frustrated by the lack of cooperation from local pastors and the reluctance to accept the youth in their churches. </li></ul><ul><li>An IMB missionary returned from Strategy Coordinator training and began working with Armando. (This missionary had helped Armando to plant the local Baptist church in Tegucigalpa where he was pastor). </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Missionary Strategy
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Missionary Strategy The Honduran coordinator and IMB missionary formed a strategy based on what they saw God doing among young people in crisis: 1. Focus would be on natural groupings of young people. We envisioned each group or gang of youth as a potential church. Instead of winning individuals for Christ and trying to congregate them, we would seek to maintain the natural group structure and allow that to become church. 2. We would use sports (soccer, basketball and volleyball) as a point of contact and activity to gain access and maintain communication with youth gangs. Rules for accountability would be established by the groups themselves to encourage participation in every aspect of the “program”. 3. We would identify the leaders from each group and provide for training to enable them to lead Bible studies and worship events. We would also use volunteer adults as coaches and observers to assure stability in the groups. Training would take place “on the way” through participation.
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Missionary Strategy <ul><li>4. Open relationships with lost people and with different evangelical groups </li></ul><ul><li>would be the norm. So, we gave a generic name to the ministry that would </li></ul><ul><li>be accepted by everyone and not put up any barriers to reaching the lost. We </li></ul><ul><li>wanted to encourage lost people to participate and leave it to the Holy Spirit to convert them. We would preserve Biblical doctrine without announcing it </li></ul><ul><li>and leave it to the Bible to answer questions. (Biblical = Baptist). </li></ul><ul><li>5. We would not have programs, we emphasized people intensive events as our model for ministry: </li></ul><ul><li>Small group Bible studies/worship and prayer events whenever and wherever the group leaders decided. (Some met almost daily). </li></ul><ul><li>United worship/celebration events each month or as often as needed. (Baptism would take place at these events). </li></ul><ul><li>Sports tournaments every week. Special parades and ceremonies connected with neighborhood sports leagues. </li></ul><ul><li>Community service days to clean up and restore neighborhood pride. </li></ul><ul><li>“ True Love Waits” events and talks on social issues from a Biblical perspective. </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Missionary Strategy 6. We would have at least a New Testament available for each gang member and reproduce local Bible study/worship materials written by Honduran Baptists. We put volunteer adult coaches in charge of uniforms, equipment, Bibles and materials to avoid losing valuable resources. 7. We would use local secular mass media to draw attention to the “program” to rescue youth involved with gangs. (More invitations than we could handle came out of this). 8. We would work with local government and secular community organizations to take advantage of their people and economic resources. We used resources from local Businessmen to sponsor sports events. 9. Prayer events with local believers from traditional churches and converted gangs would support the movement. (Also newsletters to recruit stateside prayer support).
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras God at Work <ul><li>God used secular mass media to get the word out about what He was doing. </li></ul><ul><li>Following a television report about the “sports program” with youth gangs, </li></ul><ul><li>Armando received invitations to start the same type of work in 15 different </li></ul><ul><li>neighborhoods around the city of Tegucigalpa. Future regular appearances </li></ul><ul><li>on television and radio provided free opportunities to promote the movement, </li></ul><ul><li>recruit new gangs and share the Gospel. (These opportunities continue even </li></ul><ul><li>today since three professional broadcasters, 2 from secular media, are </li></ul><ul><li>involved as volunteers). </li></ul><ul><li>Transformed lives and “impact stories” provided powerful testimonies </li></ul><ul><li>that God used to spread the word and win others. </li></ul><ul><li>Public schools began to invite Armando to give talks to youth concerning </li></ul><ul><li>social issues. Armando was permitted to share the Gospel and bring in </li></ul><ul><li>volunteer help. Efforts were focused on the largest magnet high school in </li></ul><ul><li>Tegucigalpa where over 10,000 students were enrolled. Gang members </li></ul><ul><li>from all over the city attended this school and it soon became the seed bed for </li></ul><ul><li>many more youth congregations. </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras God at Work <ul><li>Associations of youth gangs/congregations were formed in different areas of </li></ul><ul><li>the city. Each association has its own organization, leadership, sports </li></ul><ul><li>tournaments, community events, Bible studies and worship celebrations. </li></ul><ul><li>Believers from local churches (sometimes of other denominations) joined the </li></ul><ul><li>movement to help fill in leadership gaps. Leaders could not be formed fast </li></ul><ul><li>enough to lead all of the new groups. So, leaders who were in agreement </li></ul><ul><li>with the materials/doctrine being taught were recruited from local evangelical </li></ul><ul><li>churches. These particular leaders would eventually leave their churches to </li></ul><ul><li>continue to help with the youth congregation. </li></ul><ul><li>God used the natural leaders of the gangs to raise up leaders for youth </li></ul><ul><li>congregations. Adults from outside the gang served as coaches/counselors </li></ul><ul><li>but were not the leaders with authority in the group. A council of leaders </li></ul><ul><li>was selected by the gang with up to five principal leaders. The outsiders </li></ul><ul><li>provide a check and balance to assure stability with young leadership. </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras God at Work <ul><li>Armando trained principal leaders by modeling and oral communication </li></ul><ul><li>methods. These leaders model for other leaders and supervise their work. </li></ul><ul><li>Youth gangs understand authority and accountability. It was natural for </li></ul><ul><li>them to transfer these concepts to a Christian context and to follow leaders </li></ul><ul><li>striving to be like Christ. </li></ul><ul><li>Armando discovered that the most powerful gang leaders are in the prisons. </li></ul><ul><li>God opened the way for prison ministries and new congregations were started </li></ul><ul><li>on the inside. Leaders send letters of introduction from inside the prisons </li></ul><ul><li>to the gangs that they control on the outside. New work is started in this way. </li></ul><ul><li>(An IMB ISCer is currently helping with discipleship inside the prisons). </li></ul><ul><li>Armando returned to pastor the church he had left at one time but now has </li></ul><ul><li>three distinct congregations using the same facilities. The church has the </li></ul><ul><li>traditional congregation, a youth gang congregation and a single mothers </li></ul><ul><li>congregation. The church also started a “Compassion Center” to feed </li></ul><ul><li>children suffering from malnutrition. </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement Barriers and Bridges to Growth .....
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Barriers and Bridges to Growth CYM is not a church planting movement, however it is a movement of God. Young people are coming to know the Lord by the thousands. We pray that this movement of God will become a church planting movement that will ignite even more explosive growth in God’s kingdom. Here are some of the barriers that we have identified that may stand in the way: 1. Delayed baptism of new believers. In some cases young people have waited for over one year to be baptized. Most wait a minimum of 3 months. Many are never baptized. In Latin America this is the rule rather than the exception as new believers must “prove” themselves to be genuine and complete discipleship course(s) before “qualifying” for baptism. For CYM converts the problem is mostly logistics. Baptism is a special event and reserved for special days out by a mountain stream or at a retreat center. 2. Need for a church building. Even the youth gang congregations come to the point of desiring a “templo”. Due to the Roman Catholic world view that is so dominant in Latin America, a church is not complete without a building.
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Barriers and Bridges to Growth 3. Over-dependence on dynamic leadership. God has used one man, Armando Meza, to start and develop the movement to this point. Despite Armando’s efforts to mentor other principal leaders, he is still considered “ the pastor to the gangs”. Other leaders do not have the status that Armando has been granted by the youth gangs and other evangelical leaders. Unless other major leaders emerge, too much dependence on one leader will probably limit the reach of the Christian Youth Movement. Again, Roman Catholic world view influences concepts, including leadership. Many see Baptist pastors as Baptist priests. 4. Youth congregations that do not become church and do not reproduce. Many of the congregations do not have all of the characteristics of a New Testament church and have stagnated in growth. These groups settle into a “club mentality”. Immaturity hinders growth and the desire to reach out and win others to Christ. 5. Stateside partners could become a barrier to growth if too much or the wrong kind of help is given.
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Barriers and Bridges to Growth The following are some of the bridges that have helped grow the movement: 1. The homogenous structure of the youth gang. Working with natural groupings of young people helped the Gospel to flow through their natural lines of communication. We allowed the natural structure to convert into the supernatural church. 2. Community interest in solving the youth gang problem. Parents, teachers, business people, community and government leaders, all had an interest in seeing the youth gang problem addressed effectively. This opened doors for a network of relationships taking advantage of people and economic resources from all sides without compromising doctrinal integrity. 3. Respect for the Bible as God’s Word. We did not have to argue the validity and authority of the Bible. 4. Loyalty to courageous leaders. Proven courage and genuine concern from leaders earn respect and acceptance from youth.
Christian Youth Movement Vision for the Future .....
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Vision for the Future <ul><li>Armando and other principal leaders in CYM envision more and even larger </li></ul><ul><li>congregations with satellite groups in every sector of major cities and works in </li></ul><ul><li>every smaller city in Honduras. Recently the movement was recognized by </li></ul><ul><li>an association of evangelical leaders as a valid model for reaching people for </li></ul><ul><li>Christ. Some have even followed through by starting their own ministries in </li></ul><ul><li>schools and prisons. Armando and other leaders see more involvement from </li></ul><ul><li>local established evangelical churches on the horizon. Several of the youth </li></ul><ul><li>congregations are using established church facilities for their united meetings. </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders would like to see new work in every prison, high school and </li></ul><ul><li>neighborhood in Honduras. The vision is to reach gangs with the Gospel in </li></ul><ul><li>these places but also see them grow into churches. </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders desire that every young person find a trade or career that will help </li></ul><ul><li>them become a healthy and productive member of society. Land has been </li></ul><ul><li>donated and plans developed for a vocational center and factory. </li></ul>
Christian Youth Movement of Honduras Vision for the Future <ul><li>Armando has the vision for a missionary movement to emerge from CYM. </li></ul><ul><li>The first missionary to come out of the gangs is now in La Ceiba, Honduras </li></ul><ul><li>working in neighborhoods and the prison there. He is a former leader of a </li></ul><ul><li>notorious gang and was recently released from the prison in Tegucigalpa. </li></ul><ul><li>(CYM volunteer lawyers help promising youth to be released from prisons). </li></ul><ul><li>Armando would like to see youth called to other countries so that God would </li></ul><ul><li>expand the work beyond the borders of Honduras. </li></ul>
Pray for more volunteer laborers to work in the harvest .....
Pray for sports, community service and vocational ministries that help the movement grow .....
Pray for the youth congregations to follow Christ and grow in Him .....
Pray for youth gang leaders to mature in Christ and disciple others .....
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, ... but is longsuffering ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
UPDATE – CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT – JAN. 2003 CYM of Honduras has stagnated in the past year. The movement grew to nearly 7,000 youth by 2001 (zero to 7,000 in four years). In 2002 the movement declined in number to approximately 6,200 participants. Nearly all have professed faith in Christ but the majority have not been baptized or become part of a local church. There are several factors that prevented CYM from continued growth: <ul><li>The vision changed. Traditional evangelical churches and catholic worldview influenced the leaders of CYM to abandon the original vision of planting youth churches using natural groupings in natural settings. Pressure to institutionalize the movement and to plant traditional churches won over the leaders and changed the course of CYM. </li></ul><ul><li>Economic subsidy. A mega church from the states adopted CYM as “their ministry”. Volunteers with good intentions pumped a lot of outside resources into the movement and caused an unhealthy dependency. CYM became a para-church organization and continues in this direction. </li></ul>
UPDATE – CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT – JAN. 2003 <ul><li>Centralized leadership. The movement relied too heavily on one dynamic leader (Armando) and still does to this day. Although other strong leaders emerged, Armando functions as the “bishop” for CYM. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of healthy reproductive DNA. Only a few youth gangs evangelized other gangs and reproduced. Most settled into a “club mentality” and never learned to obey the Great Commission. Basic Biblical commands for the church were ignored, preventing healthy growth and reproduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Shallow leadership training and discipleship. The model for training (personal mentoring) was good. But there was no effective plan, practical tool or resource to help leaders to train others. </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to nurture the movement. The IMB missionary involved in CYM left Honduras during the second year of the movement. No one followed up to correct errors that changed the course of the movement. Volunteers took over and influenced the direction. </li></ul>
Conclusion: We rejoice in what God has done and continues to do through the Christian Youth Movement of Honduras. Thousands of young people without hope were transformed by Christ. However, we wonder what could have been? … if church planting movement principles from the book of Acts had been followed more closely. We pray that God will continue to use CYM of Honduras to win thousands more to Christ.