METAPAN, El Salvador — Plans for a new Anabaptist mission and discipleship training center to serve Central American youth continue to unfold right on track. Following a preliminary meeting in March, Anabaptist church leaders from Central America again met with representatives from VidaNet and Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) on Sept. 9, 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to learn about VidaNet’s youth discipleship training program and to hear their proposal for pursuing the vision for the new mission training center.
VidaNet is a discipleship network based in Costa Rica. Its training program Vida220 separates a group of youth for intense discipleship experiences over the course of 10 months.
“Dying to ourselves, and giving more of ourselves to Jesus, this process always takes time,” said VidaNet’s founding executive DeLynn Hoover. “And I’ve found there are two ways we grow in discipleship: relationship and pressure.”
Hoover and his wife Gloria, program directors Liz and Manuel Salas, and two students were present at the meeting, held at the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Metapan. EMM was represented by Regional Representative Galen Groff, Strategic Coach Steve Shank, and Tim Groff, missionary in Belize.
Representatives from the Mennonite denominational leadership from Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras were present. Attending from the Honduras Mennonite Church was president Adalid Romero, his wife Albania, and Pastor Manuel Izaguirre. Pastors Alejandro Colon and Marco Blanco represented the growing Garifuna church in Honduras.
Attending from Belize were Pastor Asuncion Alcoser of Belize Evangelical Mennonite Church and Pastor Herdie Castillo of the Garifuna fellowship from Southern Belize. Attending from Guatemala was Geraldo Cabnal, president of the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church. And hosting the event in Metapan was the president of the El Salvador Evangelical Mennonite Church, Samuel Martinez.
Hoover presented his mission vision and provided details on the cost and content of Vida220. The one-day meeting culminated in agreement to examine two specific locations in northern Honduras to use as a base for a Central American mission training center. Attendees also agreed to send at least one young person from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to undergo the Vida220 training program. These youth will serve as inaugural members of the proposed missions training center for youth, which is projected to open in October 2017.
The cost of this program is currently being carried by VidaNet’s network. Students from Central America will be asked to raise $50 a month to help cover their costs.
Pastor Alejandro Colon said he was impressed with the way VidaNet’s program immerses young disciples in an extended period of training.
“The decision to disciple for a larger period is a big decision, and I like this proposal,” said Colon. “The idea of this extended period for discipleship, and the order and the rules that are applied during that time.”
Galen Groff highlighted the unity he felt at this meeting.
“There’s a lot of power in a group of united leaders to get a new program going,” said Groff. “It’s exciting to see these leaders getting to know one another from their different churches. Different settings, different cultures, but the same purpose: training disciples.”