Statistics about the youth in Spain are not encouraging: 40% unemployment, an inability to get into a professional career until after 30 years of age, if ever, and high levels of recreational drug use, prostitution, and more. It is not uncommon to hear, “Aquí n hay mucha esperanza,” meaning “Here there is not much hope”.
The Church in Spain – smalland confronting a generation plagued by hardship and apathy – is looking for innovative ways to enliven their youth.
That’s where AvanceEspaña fits in. It’s a cross-cultural mission program for young adults who are exploring their missional call while serving the Church in Spain. It’s all about “youth encouraging youth,” with young people from the U.S. serving under local leadership for one or two years, living their lives in a way that inspires their Spanish peers to follow Christ. And it’s reciprocal, as Spanish believers are empowered to encourage our apprentices. In the four years since AvanceEspaña’s inception, the legacy of youth inspiring youth has had great impact.
One pastor recently said, “AvanceEspaña is kind of like a lightbulb. It is an ‘aha moment’ reminding us to live missionally in our city.”
There is fruit in these relationships! After serving with our apprentices, one young Spanish teenager is leading his youth group, another young adult is exploring how he can serve as a mentor for at-risk youth, and a young woman is now part of the preaching rotation at her church.
Guided by local leaders and mentored by staff, our Avance apprentices are reaching Spain’s young people and inspiring them in their faith in spite of major adversity. And these young Spanish leaders are the future of the Church in Spain. Youth encouraging youth, inspiring esperanza– hope – to their peers!
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