In chapter two of the Gospel of Luke, the physician describes Jesus’s development from an infant to a man as growth in “wisdom and stature” and with the favor of God on him. Have you ever noticed that he says it twice in the chapter? Look at vs. 40 and then again at vs. 52. But right in between those two verses you find the story of Jesus staying behind at the Feast of the Passover, and not joining his family in their return trip home. What was he doing? He was in the temple, sitting and listening to the teachers, and asking them questions.
Here in Mexico City, as Covid cases soar, much of ministry is going back to an online presence. Meeting in person returns to the camera and social media. Once again to figuring out lighting, sound, and screen backgrounds for “from home” Bible studies. And in all of that, there is one subset of the population that has been ignored, abandoned, and we might just lose contact with them.
You see, when the pandemic shut down job sites and schools, everyone had to figure out how to do life at home. Ministers had to figure out how to connect Zoom to Facebook live and where was the best camera angle. We all spent time, money, energy on figuring out how to look and sound good online. Our school aged kids needed help with math, science, reading and writing. We became their teachers. But what about those in the family that had just graduated from high school and were about to embark on a new mission- that of starting college and acquiring the skills to develop and work in something that could pay the bills and put food on the table? Paul and I started asking them questions and listened to their answers. Up until recently, the campuses have been empty. So we started meeting with pastors kids who are enrolled in universities across this vast city. We can’t be in class (part of our original plan). We can’t meet on campus (part of our original plan). We can’t get together for coffee and a meal (it requires masks off- that too was part of our original plan). Do you know what we have learned?
All of them who started college during the pandemic have not yet stepped foot on campus to take a class.
Many have never even seen their campus.
Most do not know who their classmates are. They have never met them, had a conversation with them, or know where they live.
Those that finished their career studies during the pandemic did not have an in person graduation. They never got to say good-bye to their fellow classmates, or have a party and celebrate that they finished. There was no closure. In Mexican culture, saying goodbye is almost more important than saying hello. The Kazim kids still keep the uniform shirt, signed by all of their classmates from the end of their senior year.
Hardly any are working in the field in which they studied. Jobs are not available.
So now they either get up every day and stare at a screen wondering if any of this is worth it, or they get up every day trying to figure out how they are going to pay the bills, and all the while living in households where everyone else is spending their energy teaching the younger siblings and working out the kinks of how to do church online.
University students are the forgotten group of the pandemic. They need, now more than ever, a Holy Spirit conviction of direction and purpose.
Would you pray with us as we figure out with them how to encourage and disciple them into becoming the leaders of tomorrow? They need attention and care. There are signs of life in this pandemic drought. Pockets of students are starting to show up on campus. No large group gatherings are allowed, but there is life starting to appear on campus. We need to “grow in wisdom” and find favor with God. We are grateful that our supporters allow us to find moments where we can continue to ask questions. We are also very appreciative of the fact that we can help others in practical ways during this pandemic- whether it be making sure they have the right medicines as part of their treatment plan, or seeing to it that they can have oxygen available to them in their home. Thank you to all those who give generously and sacrificially.