Latin America Mission – Spring 2024 Quarterly Update

During the last quarter, Latin America missionaries engaged in several projects beyond their usual teaching duties and visits to church planters (sembradores) and the groups they are leading (Grupos Sembrador).

Plans were set in motion for mission counselor (consejero) residencies, a program designed for missionaries to work in-person with church planters over an extended period. The “guía de metas”, a resource that facilitates goal-setting sessions between mission counselors and church planters, underwent an update to align with the five habits of a church planting group. Concerted efforts were made to provide extra support to students taking the Discipleship One capstone course, including the introduction of a capstone course specialist role. Calls were extended to new church planters and Academia Cristo professors. A system was established to announce all acceptances via video to the student body. A pilot program was launched to provide weekly sermons to church planters. A proposed revision to the Discipleship Two curriculum has been drafted and is set for development. The team experimented with strategies to offer support and encouragement to non-group gatherers who do not have churches nearby.

Most importantly, God’s Word was taught to thousands of students, students received training in church planting, and two new church plants were formed. Below, find a summary of key statistics and a snapshot of specific blessings from the quarter.

A Few Quick Stats:

  • 2.2M average weekly social media reach (user looks at the material for over three seconds)
  • 16,369 students are enrolled in self-study courses
  • 3,259 students have finished the four self-study courses
  • 232 students are enrolled in self-study courses in the U.S.
  • 911 students have completed one live course in Discipleship One with an Academia Cristo professor
  • 104 students have completed Discipleship One (13 live courses)
  • 39 students have completed Discipleship Two (8 live courses)
  • 34 church plants (Grupos Sembrador)

A snapshot of blessings during the past quarter:

1. New student orientation
Missionary Luke Beilke, in his role as Dean of Students, implemented a new student orientation program. All new students participate in a welcome session where they learn more about Academia Cristo. For their first course, they are enrolled in a course with other new students. This allows the instructor to ensure they have a positive experience. At the end of their first course, the students participate in a wrap up session which is intended to ensure clarity on how to continue their studies. Jenny Proeber, the Academia Cristo Admissions Coordinator, helps welcome the new students. She also helps coordinate and carry out these sessions. In the past quarter, three courses had over 60 finishers.

2. Open doors in Venezuela

The transition from the mobile app to self-study courses through WhatsApp has produced a high number of new students from Venezuela. Missionary Luis Acosta, who has American, Colombian, and Venezuelan citizenship, was able to make a visit to the country with Colombian Pastor Henry Herrera. They visited congregations from past work as well as new Academia Cristo students.

3. Teach n’ Go

New software called Teach n’ Go has been implemented to manage student records. It allows missionaries to track student progress, determine what courses a student has taken and needs to take, and has features to track which students are interested in doctrinal agreement and starting a group/planting a church. Lucho Herrera took the lead in setting up this software. He also helped all missionaries become trained in how to use it in instructional and multiplication work.

4. All-team, mid-quarter meetings

Last quarter, the Latin America mission team started having all-team, mid-quarter meetings. With expanded team size and multiple functions, several missionaries don’t interact with each other in a weekly L10 meeting. These all-team, mid-quarter meetings provide an opportunity for all missionaries to interact, share updates, review rocks, and discuss cross-functional issues.

5. 50th anniversary in Medellin, Colombia

The church in Medellín, Colombia, celebrated 50 years of worship services on Sunday, February 25. Retired Latin America Missionary Larry W. Schlomer and Latin America Missionaries Andrew Johnston and Matt Behmer attended the celebration, shared greetings, and participated in a question-and-answer session with the congregation. There was a worship service with record attendance, a meal, and fellowship time. There were also visitors from other congregations in Colombia.

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