“For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'” Acts 13:47
Our 17-year-old son Jason headed off to Richmond, Virginia, in the States in March. He took part in ministry training with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). Jason’s last newsletter, Mission to Mexico, got a great response and many of you have asked for an update after his outreaches. Here’s the ministry story he wrote updating his friends:
Off to Mexico City
I have returned home to Cape Town, South Africa, after my Discipleship Training School (DTS) with YWAM Richmond, VA. I spent the past two months doing my outreach phase.
One month was spent in Mexico City, where we did a lot of street evangelism, ministering to prostitutes and the homeless. The language barrier made the outreach particularly difficult for me, having not grown up with at least hearing others speaking Spanish around me. Many of my teammates have been exposed to the language and thus took to the usual pleasantries far quicker than I did.
“I am very good!” in Spanish sounds like you are telling someone they have ‘beautiful legs’ in Afrikaans. Pretty awkward!
The Lord blessed us with Ruben, a team member who is fluent in Spanish – he translated for us.
Mexico City is extremely densely populated. Visiting a city with 21 million people always on the move (at least that is what it felt like), gave us many opportunities to talk with English-speaking students. We were thrilled to have Gospel conversations with atheists, other non-believers and also Christians.
God used us in ways that we didn’t even think possible because of the challenges that crossed our paths. But, we were where God called us to be. We were like helpless babies and the only place we could go to try and reach these people was by seeking God and asking Him for help and guidance.
Mexico has a very spiritual, emotional and even psychologically dark and depressing atmosphere. Prostitution is rife in Mexico City. It goes on in the middle of daily life where children are playing around in the streets and families are busy doing their afternoon shopping. Men, women and even children are being offered by pimps.
Most of the prostitutes are women aged 18-60. Child prostitution takes place behind closed doors. It is terribly sad—heart breaking—to see people treated in this manner.
Many of the people in Mexico City worship an idol of death called the “Santa Muerte,” which I believe is translated “Our Lady of Holy Death.” This idol is found in the middle of the street where the prostitution takes place. A little money box rests at the feet or on a table in front of the idol into which passers-by can place an offering.
Yes, my friends, I know what you are thinking, “Where is Jesus in all of this?” There is a statue of Him straight across the road from where the idol of death stands. This statue also has a money box for offerings.
Besides those living in utter darkness, I also met many lovely Christians who are seeking God wholeheartedly and have dedicated themselves to reaching the lost in their communities. It is very encouraging to see these people go out every week, making a difference where God has called them.
What I learned in Mexico is that prayer is a powerful tool God has given us. Therefore, I will continue to pray for my brothers and sisters serving the Lord in Mexico.
And then the Island!
The second part of our outreach was in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. We spent four weeks helping the YWAM Saint Croix run Gospel children and youth holiday camps, a Vacation Bible School (VBS), street evangelism and multiple other ‘outreaches,’ including cleaning old ministry buildings.
The atmosphere in Saint Croix was completely different to Mexico City. It was a welcome contrast because the darkness of Mexico was anything but uplifting. That made coming to Saint Croix and being involved in youth ministry a wonderful difference even though Saint Croix wasn’t entirely sunshine and roses.
I got to speak to many of the children and learned that lots of them come from broken homes and haven’t grown up in the best of environments, which is very sad. The way some have been treated is actually criminal. One 12 year old girl was impregnated by her grandfather.
I was honored to connect with these children and share God’s amazing grace!
The ministry as a whole had its ups and downs, but God uses those ups and downs in order for us to grow closer and into a deeper relationship with Him. I saw the Lord moving in power and experienced Him in ways that I never expected.
I will continue to pray for everyone I met on these outreaches—all those giving of themselves to further the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Praise His Name!
Jason van Wyk