Every Saturday morning, 150 to 200 kids gather on a small cement court to color pictures, play soccer and watch puppets, but most importantly, to hear the Word of God. Each child has their own story, their own background; but all of them have had a hard life. These children are growing up in a community on the fringe of Guadalajara, Mexico, a city with a metropolitan population of 10 million. The area, known as El Collí, is an impoverished neighborhood where drug abuse, alcoholism, and physical abuse are a part of everyday life for almost every child. Strict Catholicism dominates the city and very few have ever heard the message of a God who desires to have a personal and intimate relationship with them. It is this message that the students of Engage in Missions bring to the community each week, showing them the love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ. In January 2007, Engage students began playing soccer in an open dirt field that was used as the neighborhood dump, inviting any child who happened to be walking by to join them. Afterwards, they would hand out sandwiches and water to the kids while sharing Christ with them. The "feeding program" has been expanding ever since, and today it is a thriving ministry. Each week, these kids are provided with food, games, love and the Word of God. La Comunindad Cristiana Esmirna, a Mexican AG church from the other side of the city, has been working alongside Engage to provide a Bible study for mothers of the children who come to the program each week. There are no Assemblies of God churches in the El Collí area. The ultimate goal of Engage is to plant a church in this neighborhood that will be able to disciple the many people who are coming to Christ each week during the feeding program. A church plant in this area would also open the door for a Latin America Child Care school to provide education to hundreds of children who are otherwise unable to afford it. The feeding program is just one of the various ministry opportunities Engage in Missions offers. From week to week, Engage students are involved in a variety of ministry experiences, including Chi Alpha university ministry, sidewalk Sunday schools, church planting, teaching English as a second language, feeding programs, homeless ministry and leading short-term missions trip teams. Cooperating with local churches, as well as actively living and working alongside Assemblies of God missionaries, students are offered a first-hand perspective of missions life. Located in Waxahachie, Texas, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) and Engage in Missions have come together to provide an entirely new type of missions internship, giving first-and second-year college students the opportunity to receive an extended experience in cross-cultural missions while continuing a formal college education. Within the two-year Engage internship, students can receive a full Associate of Arts degree from SAGU as well as local language studies through credit-transferable universities in their country of residence. Currently, Engage has 10 students in the program studying with SAGU. Engage in Missions is directed by AGWM missionaries Steve and Amy Shoop in Guadalajara, Mexico. For more information about the program, or to request an application, visit http://www.sagu.edu/engage or http://www.engageinmissions.com/.
Isaac Lewis and Kayla Lowther