It started with some statistics and became an “aha” moment. These are the beginnings of a new program for MLP.
In January 2013, the Excelsior newspaper in Mexico reported that the average citizen in Mexico read only half a book a year and that 35% of those surveyed said they had never read any book (www.excelsior.com.mx/2013/01/18/879972). Anecdotal evidence from other countries in Latin America seems to reflect similar experiences. Don’t misunderstand: it’s not that they can’t read, it’s just they don’t have the habit of reading for pleasure.
When Missionary Mike Hartman came across those statistics, he started observing that at bus stops and at home, in waiting rooms and restaurants, you rarely saw anyone with a book. But you did see people with smartphones, reading Facebook posts and watching videos.
That led to the “aha” moment.
Missionary Hartman approached Multi-Language Publications and asked the question: What if, instead of spending our budget on printing and distributing books that might never be used, we converted those books into videos and distributed them over the Internet? MLP was willing to give it a try.
And so, MLP partnered with Latin American missions to launch “Academia Cristo.” The initial vision became a detailed plan with this goal: to use everyday technologies to empower Spanish speakers to plant and develop churches that faithfully proclaim God’s word.
You could say there are two phases to Academia Cristo. Phase one involves “sowing seeds” to become a known entity among Spanish speakers. It starts with sending evangelism fliers to literally millions of people through social media, especially Facebook. Those fliers invite people to visit the Academia Cristo website where they can access devotions, movies, hymns, liturgies, streamed church services, and prepared Bible studies that they can use on their own or to lead a group – all for free.
Over 2.3 million unique visitors have visited the website, and hundreds of thousands have downloaded resources. We thank God for these resources and the many partners who develop and allow us to share them… Thank you!
Phase two involves personal contact with individuals. Every Spanish speaker in the world is invited to take Academia Cristo’s introductory class. This 10-lesson course entitled Here I Am is taught live over the Internet or face-to-face. In the class, students learn essential truths about God’s word as well as a simple way to teach Bible stories and God’s amazing good news to others. For a final project, students take a video of themselves sharing one of the Bible stories they learned in class with someone else.
Those who successfully complete Here I Am are invited to continue to study in the Academia Cristo Live program. Many of these students are connected to a pastoral mentor. The mentors encourage and guide these individuals as they grow in the knowledge of the truth, work to share God’s good news with others, and ultimately strive to plant and develop churches in their communities that clearly and faithfully teach God’s word.
Almost 2,000 new contacts have registered to study the Here I Am course, and 120 of those have expressed the desire to continue their training while at the same time gathering others around God’s word to form new churches.
You don’t have to speak Spanish yourself to participate. Just share the www.academiacristo.com website with anyone you know who speaks Spanish. And pray in whatever language your heart speaks that God continue to bless this united effort to empower Spanish speakers to faithfully proclaim God’s word to the world.
We invite you to watch a video update to learn more.
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