The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chiapas, Mexico, is serious about providing opportunities for hundreds of young people across the region to become digital evangelists. During a recent communication training, more than 800 young people from hundreds of local churches gathered to create or optimize their digital ministries on social media platforms to spread the message of the gospel.
The seven-day training saw hundreds gather at five different locations throughout Chiapas, August 21-27, 2022, to learn how to be creative disciples when producing short films, taking photographs and videos with their smartphones, writing news stories, and more. Church leaders called it the Communication and Hope Media Training tour.
New Generations Sharing Jesus
Daniel Torreblanca, communication director and youth ministries director for the church in Chiapas, said: “This training tour was very important because we want the new generations to be involved in sharing Jesus with what comes very natural to them. Young people know more about technology than what we can imagine and even though many didn’t have the latest tools to share the gospel effectively, there was an impressive willingness to learn among them.”
The young people took notes at every presentation and showed a willingness to use their gifts and talents to serve God, Torreblanca said.
Carlos Florentino, who has a rubber business near the Mexican border with Guatemala, traveled hundreds of kilometers to meet in Palenque for the training on August 23. He shares messages of hope with his 700 followers on Facebook. During evangelism efforts at his church, he shares sermons and spiritual messages from his mobile phone.
Sharing Messages of Hope
Many young people committed to starting a new digital evangelism ministry with a group from their local church. “A young man told me that after the training he had spoken to two friends from church and they decided to begin a short film project,” Torreblanca said. “They knew they didn’t have the experience to do that, but if they didn’t start right away, they would never do so, so I encouraged them to start right away.”
Ambassadors of Hope
Letting young delegates see their potential and input in leading others to Christ was the core message during the seven-day training tour, Torreblanca said. “We want them to know and believe that ‘Todos Somos Hope’ [We are all Hope], a team of ambassadors for Hope Channel Inter-America, part of the church’s Hope Channel television network, and can bring about change in other people’s life for God,” he said.
Carlos Lunez, a trail runner from San Cristobal de las Casas, decided to delete all the meme content on his Facebook page and replace it with healthy lifestyle content for his thousands of followers. “I decided to share a message of hope and well-being to many who are suffering in a world full of anxiety and depression,” Lunez said. “I believe that through this new ministry I can help and lead people to Christ.”
Alan Mendoza, a third-year communication student in Tuxtla Gutierrez, was fascinated by the cinematography and television productions created throughout the different parts of the world church and was inspired to create hope-filled audiovisual projects with a group of his peers. The whole point was to encourage young members to support evangelism efforts across Chiapas with a digital ministry of their own, Torreblanca said.
The training sessions were part of a comprehensive strategy set out by church leaders since 2019. Teams of young people across eight local fields were offered communication and media training and were provided with a camera to begin creating content.
Torreblanca noted that when the pandemic hit soon after that congress training and churches closed their doors, members used social media to strengthen the church during the months and years that followed.
Opportunities in Support of the Mission
Chiapas Union Conference president Pastor Ignacio Navarro congratulated young people for their dedication to and gifts in support of the church’s mission. “The youth in Chiapas are very dynamic,” Navarro said. “When they are focused and trained to use the media, they will create a gospel preaching movement. I am sure that the Lord has allowed the gospel to be known by many in our state through social media networks and the media.” He challenged the youth to snatch the use of these platforms from the hands of the enemy and deliver them into the hands of the Holy Spirit for the culmination of the mission.
Abel Márquez, communication director for the church in Inter-America and executive director of Hope Channel Inter-America, praised church leaders in Chiapas for their long-term vision to set up a media center in each of the eight local fields and institutions to continue generating innovative content to share hope. Márquez, who spoke during the seven-day training sessions in Chiapas, said the event was significant because it facilitated opportunities for churches and members to be involved in producing local programming and collaborative projects in other parts of the world. “I want to motivate you to produce something every day. Use your creativity, talents, and tools at your reach to preach that Jesus is coming soon.”
The training event is the first one of such magnitude to be held across Inter-America, Márquez said. “Hope Media Chiapas, as a production center which produces and promotes Hope Channel Inter-America, is positioning itself as a network throughout the State of Chiapas, that now includes representation in each local church. That is an unprecedented initiative,” he said.
Church leaders will continue to encourage young church members to share hope throughout their social media communities. The Chiapas Mexican Union is planning to hold a territory-wide Global Adventist Internet Evangelism (GAiN) event to continue encouraging its digital evangelists to produce content that leads others to Christ. The union also wants to expand its media center in the coming months and year, Torreblanca said.