In an effort to get the gospel into the homes of more families in Latin America, a new Spanish-language website, Academia Cristo (Christ Academy), has been developed to provide further outreach and training opportunities.
“We have an opportunity to communicate the gospel in Latin America like we’ve never had before,” says Michael Hartman, field coordinator for Latin America, referring to the statistic that there will be 70 million smartphone users in Mexico by the end of 2015. “People are getting on the Internet, and they’re getting on with their mobile phones.”
Whereas Spanish-language printed materials developed by Multi-Language Publications had been used in the past, the goal is to replace this written material with videos and audio Bible studies that can be distributed more widely through the Internet. Hartman says this will be appealing to Latinos, who don’t have a reading culture but are regularly on their smartphones.
While there will be simple courses available for non-Christians, the point of the site isn’t strictly outreach. “Gospel outreach happens when you sit down and you talk with your friends or family about Jesus,” says Hartman. “What we really want to do is enable Christians to be able to do just that.”
For that purpose, Academia Cristo will also include a level of courses for local leaders that will show them how to share their faith. A future goal is to add seminary courses for those training for the ministry.
World Missions sees this site as a way to help serve scattered members throughout Latin America, providing ways for them to grow in the faith as well as share their faith with others.
For example, when violence erupted in villages in northern Mexico due to drug trafficking, members of churches in our sister synod Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Confesional (Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mexico) had to flee south to find safer places to live. “How do you help those people to gather around God’s Word?” says Hartman. “You provide simple Bible studies that people can work through and learn from even if there isn’t a pastor there.”
Or when members of our Bolivian church travel to remote areas and meet others who are interested in learning more about Lutheranism, they now have resources they can use to help them proclaim God’s Word.
With more and more Hispanics moving into the United States and connecting with WELS churches there, the site also offers a way for those far away from their homeland to share the gospel message they discovered.
This is not to take away the human element. A missionary or a national pastor is connected to each course, available to answer questions and concerns. Two members of the Latin American mission team also work directly with national church bodies and their members to explore new opportunities for outreach and training. One lives in Mexico; the other works with Hispanic members throughout the United States.
Volume 102, Number 3
Issue: April 2015
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