Reported by Franco Gennaro
In the spring of 1991, Franco Gennaro was allowed to hold an evangelistic meeting on the still-communistic campus of the University of Nicaragua. While banners and paintings of Sandino and the Sandinista cause still lined the hallways just outside the university auditorium, Gennaro preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. The director of activities for the university said he would allow the meeting to go unhindered because he felt it would be helpful for the students to hear different viewpoints.
“Our rally was the first religious meeting ever allowed to take place on that campus,” says Gennaro enthusiastically. “Not only did many students and professors attend the rally out of curiosity, but many expressed an interest in knowing more about Jesus, and we were given an open invitation to return.”
Gennaro’s organization, Campeones Para Cristo (Champions for Christ), is a ministry that is making an impact on the young people of Central America. With a primary emphasis on the youth of Central America, Gennaro and his Champions focus on the high school and university campuses.
As a ministry of service in both Latin America and the United States, Champions for Christ is dedicated to providing biblical solutions to the problems that face the youth and families of the world today. The ministry conducts major outreaches using mime, drama, testimonies, music and multi-media seminars in public places such as schools, universities, barrios and rural areas. But the work doesn’t end with evangelism – Champions for Christ also trains young believers to do the work of ministry and have an impact on their own generation.
The strategic importance of reaching the campuses of Central America is crucial, stresses Champions for Christ’s young director: “These are the same areas where the communists and drug lords are actively attempting to recruit and influence youth. These same students will be the future Noriegas, Fidel Castros and Daniel Ortegas.”
Because of the nature of political systems in Central America, most of this type of subversive activity is allowed to go on unhindered due to the autonomy of most campuses. Nevertheless, the hunger for the gospel among the students is evident. Yet according to Gennaro, few missionaries will even set foot on the campuses of Central America.
“One of the weaknesses of the American missionary movement over the past 100 years is that we have failed to reach the future leaders of the Latin American countries – the youth!” Gennaro states. “Most missionary organizations either reach out to the very poor or the Indians in the jungles of Central America. Without minimizing the importance of this, the fact remains that 95% of those who will be the leaders of society – the movers and the shakers and the policy makers – are presently studying on the high school and university campuses of Central America.”
Statistics show that 60% of Central America is under 25 years of age. Gennaro’s Champions for Christ organization is dedicated to seeing a turnaround of among this strategic harvest field – one that has been virtually untouched in missionary work. Although their financial resources have been limited, Champions for Christ is seeing tremendous results:
- At the University of Panama, school officials welcomed the evangelists and allowed them full access to facilities in the central area of the campus. A multi-media seminar exposing the satanic influences behind much of today’s Rock-n-Roll music was shown to a packed auditorium of Latin American students.
- In Honduras, many students were saved as a response to open-air preaching in the center of the campus. Champions for Christ evangelists challenged the students to “become a part of the real revolution – the revolution of love through the power of Jesus Christ.”
- In one of the largest high schools in Costa Rica, school administrators called a mandatory assembly of more than 1800 students. About 350 students gave their name, address and phone number to the evangelists indicating that that they wanted to become a part of campus Bible studies.
In addition, Venezuela, Jamaica and Mexico have been the sights of outreaches by Champions for Christ. Other windows of opportunity continue to open on many high school campuses. Says Gennaro, “Usually, the principal of the high school will close down the entire school and have a mandatory assembly for the entire student body. The response has been overwhelming as hundreds of students will respond to the message of salvation.”
With so many doors opening to go into the schools, universities and rural areas with multi-media programs, films and creative ministry, Champions for Christ is finding it impossible to keep up with all the requests. This vast unreached mission field is strategic in this hour. Gennaro’s plan to compensate for the lack of American missionaries among the youth of Central America is to train nationals to do the work and to instruct local churches to cooperate in ongoing evangelism and discipleship programs.
Capeones para Cristo is in need of financial support to bring more nationals on staff, to purchase equipment and supplies (slide and movie projectors, P.A. equipment, evangelistic tracts) and to conduct training seminars.
Would you prayerfully consider investing in this strategic harvest field? Your support will go a long way in helping reach the youth of Latin America for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Send your financial support to: Missionary Companion Ministries, P.O. Box 2283, Brandon, FL 33509.