Home to over 116,000 students, the University of Guadalajara lies in Guadalajara, the state capital of Jalisco, Mexico, which has a mere 1% Christian population.
For over 15 years, the university was without a Baptist ministry presence. In recent years, Texas Baptists, in partnership with the Baptist Convention in Guadalajara has helped develop a Baptist Student Ministry on the campus, in hopes of engaging college students with the Gospel.
College students are open to question and wonder, said Director of Texas Baptists River Ministry Daniel Rangel, making it a prime location for ministry.
The ministry started in 2014, when the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) in Edinburg, Texas chose to adopt the UG campus and take its first mission trip to the university.
For the last three years, students and leaders from the BSM at UTRGV have taken weeklong trips to the University of Guadalajara to encourage the campus missionary, train leaders and practice evangelism strategies they use on their own campus—such as soccer games, Soularium cards, fingernail painting, henna storytelling and more.
“There is a natural connection with our students being bilingual and being so close to the border, so it seemed like a natural fit,” said Robert Rueda, BSM director at UTRGV. “I see the university campus as the most strategic place to reach the nations. They have the best mission field in the world.
UTRGV BSM student Neiby Rodriguez has served on the Guadalajara mission trip for the last two years, bringing her gifting of henna Bible story art to the campus and ministering to over 200 students in a single day through it.
The mission strikes deep for Rodriguez, who is an international student from Mexico.
“It was really cool to be able to be used within my own people,” Rodriguez said. “I love my country, and I would pray to God that one day they will come to the understanding that they need God. So when I was there, I was able to reach them and lead them to want to know more about God.”
Rodriguez also enjoyed being able to encourage the campus missionary just as she has been encouraged in her own BSM.
“The BSM really cares about getting us trained and empowered,” Rodriguez said. “The encouragement we are able to get here at the BSM, we were in turn able to give back (to the campus missionary) for a week.”
On her most recent trip, Rodriguez noted she was encouraged to see more college students in church than the previous year and that they were truly engaging in worship.
Most states in Mexico have less than 10 percent evangelical Christians, making one of the greatest mission fields just across the border.
“People go halfway around the world to find people groups (needing to hear the Gospel) when the same demographics are just a few hundred miles away,” Rangel said.
The partnership between Texas Baptists, the Guadalajara Baptist Convention, the Mexico Baptist National Convention and others are opening doors for more and more opportunities to bring the Gospel to Mexico. Texas Baptists River Ministry connects Texas Baptist churches with Mexico and border mission opportunities. To learn more, visit texasbaptists.org/riverministry.