John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
In the article below, you will read more information about the discipleship group I am leading this year with a group of about 10 young ladies, ages 15-23 at our center. During the first week, I asked the seven girls in attendance to write down their questions they have that they would like to discuss in this group after discussing the vision for the group. It is intended to be a small group for girls who are interested in going deeper in their faith.
So often, they meet in Bible studies and youth group and learn amazing things that begin to transform their lives. Unfortunately, in a mixed group with boys around, they do not have the time or feel the freedom to ask more personal and vulnerable questions. In Grupo R.E.A.L., they will have just that. To give you an idea of how ready they are to talk, here are the questions that were asked by the group on night one. Please pray with me this year that we are able to get their questions answered so they can fully accept and live in the love of Jesus!
- Where do I belong concerning religion? There are so many opinions and points of view that make me question everything.
- Friendships: how to identify bad ones and how to be a good friend.
- Family relationships: how to handle problems and arguments and come to agreements; relationships with parents in general
- Family problems that daughters encounter while doing basic activities and determining roles
- How to improve relationships
- What should I look for in a man when I want a relationship?
- How do I follow God when I feel like I need to seek Him, but don’t know how?
- School: I need advice on how to live a Christian life at a public school
- What does the Bible say about the independence of a person/woman?
- What is our value as women with machismo in our culture?
- How do I feel comfortable with my body?
- What is the best way to study and understand the Bible?
- Stereotypes that apply toward women in our society and culture
- What does it mean to be a Christian and what does it entail?
- What is the difference between Christianity and other religions?
- How can I manage/control my emotions in a relationship to have good/healthy friendships? How do I overcome my emotions?
- How do I share the Word/love of God with my friends?
- How do I know I am a Christian?
These are only a few questions from only seven young women who did not grow up in Christian homes! Students have questions and want answers. I would encourage you to get involved in your local church, school, youth group, Sunday school class, or other Christian ministry to get to know the youth of this generation. They are bombarded more than ever by confusing influences that does not point to Christ.
If you would like to support Grupo R.E.A.L. with the purchase of devotional books, journals, food for our meetings, or funding for local outings, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or via WhatsApp at +52 443 867 4612.
Acts 2:42, 46 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer….Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”
Over the past few months, God has really put on my heart to focus on discipleship with our students. Last year in our Wednesday night youth Bible Study, we walked through the book of John together to see who Jesus was, who he is, who he says he is, how he is still relevant today, and how he can be a part of our daily lives. This year, we are going to go through the book of Acts. We want to show the students what happened after Jesus walked this earth and the influence he had to impact this world. What is the church? How did it start? Why do we need to be the church? We are calling it The Table: a walk to Emmaus, based on Acts 2:42, 46.
Our first week of Bible study, we were unable to attend due to Harmony’s hospitalization, but our good friends and fellow Loma Libre staff couple Abby and Erick Garcia hosted Chili Night with 15-20 students to introduce the book of Acts, going through 1:1-11 and talking about who Luke was. The following week, the co-founders of NOE and former Executive Director of NOE Brian and Mireya Overcast shared sweet bread and hot chocolate and lead them through 1:12-26, where they shared about why Judas was an important and necessary role in the life of Jesus and why they needed to replace him among the group of disciples. Mireya also shared about how to read the Bible and why it is an important aspect of growing in your faith. Next week we look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit
descended upon the believers and start conversation about how the Holy Spirit works and opens the door to conversation about the Holy Spirit.
Another area of discipleship we are beginning this year is a group called Grupo R.E.A.L. (In Spanish: Relationships. Excellence. Encouragement. Freedom). I will be leading about 10 girls through a discipleship process this year, using the book Lies Young Women Believe as a guide. Most come from a Catholic background, and in Mexico, that means there is a strict contrast between Protestantism, which is often viewed negatively from the Catholic perspective.They are hungry to find out, but don’t know where to start or who to talk to. We will be meeting 2-3 times a month on Mondays and Saturdays. They are excited and rearing to get started! Please pray for me as we talk deeply about what it means to be a woman, God’s value He has in women, our role as believers, confronting the lies we often believe and finding truth in God’s word, and so much more!
Our goal for this year during youth Bible Study, The Table, is to break bread together each week as the disciples did. My goal for The R.E.A.L. Group is to go deeper into the girls’ individual faith by spending one-on-one time with each of them, as well as in a small group and do outings together so they have a sense of support and confidence in other Christian girls as friends that they won’t find in their schools. Our budget at our center does not allow for this expense, and it is very rare that we are able to do special things without having to use our own funds. If you would like to donate to our ministry funds for the The Table and/or Grupo R.E.A.L., please contact me at email@example.com or through WhatsApp at +52 443 867 4612. We would love to let them know how others are praying for them and that they want to be a part of their spiritual journey!
Each year, Centro NOE, through NOE International based in Portland, Oregon, sends 10-13 students for a 1-month experience of cultural learning and English practice to the United States during the month of July. The students chosen to be a part of this program are the “best of the best”, the “cream of the crop” from NOE. They are ambassadors for what NOE is at its core.
In order to be selected, students must pass their final exam after a four-year English program with a 70% or higher. Then, they must pass an oral exam with an 80% or higher. Next, a selection team comprised of directors and other staff members finalizes the selection process based on character and participation at NOE. Finally, they enter into a year of language and culture training. They work alongside with the short-term mission teams that visit and take lead roles in some of the ministries and services at NOE. It is a tremendous honor to be chosen for this program.
One of my responsibilities at NOE is to help the students get their VISA appointments through online form completion, which takes a lot of coordination to attain all necessary information, and submit it for acceptance. I also assist with their Culture and Conversation class.
Beyond obtaining a Mexican passport, attaining a U.S. VISA is necessary for the students to travel to the U.S. All expenses to complete the VISA process are covered by NOE International, and I assist them in learning about the process and helping them practice sample questions that may be asked of them during the VISA interviews.
During our trainings times, there are a lot of butterflies. For a person to have a successful interview, they must prove that there is no risk of them staying in the United States once they arrive. They do that by strategically answering the questions as well as the way they carry themselves as individuals. The students must be personable. The interviews are conducted in either English or Spanish by American citizens living in Guadalajara so the students must be ready to answer the questions in both languages. During our 1- or 2-night stay in Guadalajara as we prepare, we discuss their lives, their futures, and their roles as unofficial ambassadors of NOE. They are encouraged spiritually, morally, and academically to continue to be their very best. Of the 10 that were selected, only one was denied their VISA, but we are working on a 2nd option, potentially in Canada with some connections we have to the “north”. God is so good!
Please pray for them as they travel. Pray for their safety and their spiritual growth. We’d be interested in hearing from you if you would be interested in hosting a NOE student in your home one year!
(Left) Dream Team 2023: Monica, Didier, Regina, Paulina, Daryanka, Yashi, Denisse, Ana Gabriela, Alan, and Jacqueline.
(Right) Waiting in line to enter the U.S.A. General Consulate for Visa appointments and interviews. Aka: the most non-predictable step in the Dream Team process.