In many countries around the world there is a "population bulge" of younger people. In fact, today more than 50 percent of the world's population is now under the age of 25. Because of realities such as broken families and secularism, many of these young people receive little moral or spiritual education in their homes, and their values are often shaped instead by potentially negative influences such as the media, music, or their peers.

As part of a global strategy for reaching youth, Lutheran Hour Ministries offers Project JOEL in a growing number of countries. The name JOEL stands for "youth with a free spirit," and the program is designed to provide youth with biblically-based guidance in making healthy lifestyle choices. Project JOEL has been integrated into school curriculum in some countries-particularly in Latin America-but it also supplements its educational content by incorporating opportunities for holding sporting and cultural events.

LHM recently celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the program's launch by hosting the first meeting of the Promoters of Project JOEL at its Christ for All Nations office in Panama City with LHM ministry representatives and church leaders. During the two-day meeting, attendees talked about the history and development of Project JOEL, presented the work done in each of their countries, discussed the program's vision, and shared the issues and challenges that each country faces in working with schools and communities. They also heard a powerful testimonial from Griselda Aguilar, a volunteer and contact of Dios es Grande Lutheran Church, and learned about Project Timoteo, a new program being used by LHM-Panama to reach out to children and integrate them into the church.

Since its introduction by LHM-Panama in 1996, Project JOEL has been recognized by the Ministry of Justice in Panama and Guatemala for its positive impact on youth. In addition to its use in Latin America, the program has been adapted for implementation in other ministry centers around the world.

Individuals throughout Latin America who seek answers to common issues of today now have a new online resource available. Lutheran Hour Ministries launched vivenciar.net April 4 during a ceremony at the LHM-Brazil ministry center in Sao Paulo.

Much like LHM's new THRED project in the United States, the purpose of vivenciar.net is to reach out and digitally connect to the non-believer and non-Christian populations by sharing information about issues that are of concern to them. Once visitors arrive at the website, they are invited to look deeper into their selected topic, which may include marriage and family, anxiety, loneliness, relationships, online pornography, and much more.

"We are hoping that this project opens up opportunities to start an online relationship in Spanish and Portuguese between visitors and the trained volunteers from our ministry centers in Latin America," says Rev. Nilo Figur, LHM's regional director for Latin America. "By sharing messages of hope with the millions of people immersed in an increasingly virtual world, we can provide answers and the peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Vivenciar.net has a potential reach of 650 million people throughout 10 Latin American countries. Individuals will be brought to the website using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, and other online tools, as well as newspaper and radio advertisements.

We have created one all-encompassing blog that will share stories of our work and show the Gospel's impact in regions around the world where LHM has a ministry center.

Each month we will travel to one of these regions and share with you the work and impact that is being done there. With the blog being regionally based, we will be able to share with you how our centers around the world are working to share the light of the Gospel in their countries. All of the centers will share stories of Gospel impact to one central blog.

We pray that you will join us in this exciting new approach! Starting June 1st, there will be a new blog post available each week for you to read and share with family or friends. We hope that you enjoy traveling with us each month to a new region to watch LHM Bring Christ to the nations - and the nations to the Church.

Read more stories from our ministry centers around the world:

2017 Stories

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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