Dimensión Juvenil (Youth Dimension)

This week I had the privilege of meeting Abel Lopez who serves as youth pastor at Mundo de Fe and president of Liderazgo Juvenil Internacional (Youth Leadership International). LJI will host three conferences this year in Dallas, Mexico City, and Managua, Nicaragua for over 5,000 youth pastors and leaders.

I felt like I have known Pastor Abel all my life. I guess that is because we have so much in common. We both grew up speaking English and later learned to speak Spanish and learned about our Hispanic/Latino heritage and culture. Abel is an amazing visionary with a simple and straightforward plan to make a difference in the lives of youth. While denominations and institutions talk about curbing the Hispanic high school drop out rate, Abel is doing something about it. He speaks in high school assemblies through LJI and has been contracted by several ISD’s to speak.

On September 11th-13th he will host a Training Conference in Carrollton at his Church, Mundo De Fe drawing about 1,500 youth leaders and pastors from across the nation for several days of intensive training. He will do the same thing in Mexico City later in September and in Managua, Nicaragua in December. Abel also offers skills training for parents in apartment complexes throughout the DFW area and has co-authored a book on parenting skills.

Approximately 50% of Hispanic youth drop out of high school each year. While I was at Baptist University of the Americas I championed this concern and thought that Texas Baptists with 9 univeristies and 5,500 churches could and should do something about this. We have about 10,000 youth among our 1,200 Hispanic churches affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. About 3,000 of those youth gather annually at the Hispanic Youth and Singles Congreso. According to the trends for Hispanic High School completion in Texas, 5,000 of those 10,000 youth will graduate from high school; 3,200 will enroll in college, and 800 will graduate with a BA degree. Less than 300 of those 10,000 will earn a graduate degree.

This is not good news for the Texas economy. By 2010, every other Texan will be Hispanic and there will be more Hispanics in Dallas than there will be in San Antonio, a majority Hispanic city. The workforce of the future in Texas will be under-educated and under-skilled. What if Texas Baptists figured out a way to change that future for Hispanic youth in our congregations? What if we only tried to solve that issue for the 10,000 youth affiliated with the BGCT and its institutions? What would be a reasonable goal to set for High School completion among this part of our family? What if we too had a zero tolerance among our Hispanic youth regarding dropping out of high school? The news media would be all over this rather than reporting what we are against. Abel is not a Baptist but he is a brother in the Lord and he is doing something about Hispanic youth. More on this on Thursday.

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10 thoughts on “Dimensión Juvenil (Youth Dimension)

  1. This really should be an imperative for us. The youth of my area see education as optional. Some of them might be the first in their family to graduate from High School. Their parents want them to immediately get a job, or go into the military. Personally, I see the military as a good option, especially since there is money there for college once they get out. But, their families don’t really see college as an option. Mostly, they see it as something “above” their kids heads.
    That makes me so sad.
    So, getting thru High School seems an “almost” goal for most of these students, and college isn’t even on their radar screen. Something has to give, imo.

  2. Tim, this is a soap-box issue for me. You are right on target. I will write more about it Friday of this week. We have to do something and yes, something’s gotta give.

  3. High dropout is killing all cultures everywhere in the US. it is interesting to read your analysis on the issue:
    “This is not good news for the Texas economy. By 2010, every other Texan will be Hispanic and there will be more Hispanics in Dallas than there will be in San Antonio, a majority Hispanic city. The workforce of the future in Texas will be under-educated and under-skilled.”
    Ouch. Definitely a call to action.What do you think are adequate solutions to this issue?
    I like this line of thought.

  4. Dear Albert,
    I had the opportunity to visit “Mundo de Fe” in several occasion and have been very impressed with the quality of work/ministry they do.
    The issue concerning the future of Hispanic leaders is one that needs our immediately attention. I feel, like most of my colleagues do a sense of urgency concerning the statistics mention.
    Perhaps a cross-denominational network could be the platform to deal with these issues.
    Looking forward to reading more about this…

  5. Summer, you are exactly correct. African Americans are not on the list for the 2nd highest drop out rate and then Anglo-Americans. Asian Americans seem to fair the best when it comes to high school completion. I will propose some solutions on Friday.

  6. Sergio, you may be on to something there. One option is to find success among our own youth and scale that model. Another option is to band with other denominations. Frankly, since we lose about 9,200 kids a year to low wages and no hope anything we can do to curb this situation is critical. I will propose some solutions on Friday.

  7. Was invited to speak on this subject at Mundo de Fe on May 22nd. Please pray.
    We have been working on exploring new ways to generate joint efforts just as Sergio mentioned.
    There is an urgent need for input. How can we all work together? The need and amount of work is too large and too important to place any limits on our selves as servants, churches, ministries, etc. It takes God’s army together moving forward.
    One first strong attempt will be made Sept. 11-13. Would you please consider attending, promoting and praying? More info. at: http://www.dimensionjuvenil.com
    As Christian and Hispanic leaders we are highly aware of the crucial need for cultivating strong, Kingdom-minded Hispanic leaders… the question is: how will we get it done?
    We will be the majority in just a few short years… what type of majority will we be?
    I see strong efforts to bring progress in one place and another, in one Church and another, in one ministry and another… Time to bring our thinking caps together and work as the Army of world-changers that we are called to be! His name needs to be glorified and experienced!
    Just like Dr. Reyes mentioned, this is a soap-box issue for me! It’s what’s driving me from Architecture to Ministry with young people, so I could go on an on; but I want to invite everyone to please write and voice your input on this subject. We need to act with greater focus – NOW!

  8. Elizabeth, I will be writing about solutions on Friday. Each year we lose ground to educate and prepare productive citizens for our state and nation. As a friend reminded me recently, Jesus said he came to preach good news to the poor. What would good news look like to Latino youth unprepared to finish high school and abtain a college education? What would Texas Baptists do about it? When? Check out my blog on Friday for more…

  9. Together we can really make an impact. Surely we can put our heads together and change lives. That is what Buckner is about…making life better for children and families.