Project Reaches Out to Troubled Youth in Colombia

Post a Comment » Written on February 23rd, 2006     
Filed under: News
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA (February 23, 2006) – The project is called “Seamos Parces” – can we be close friends? That is the question teenage and young adult Covenanters are asking as they reach out to children in gang- and drug-infested neighborhoods in this city.

Receiving Bibles at Retreat The Covenanters’ are using sports and cultural activities to reach and train the children in Christian values, says Katie O’Connor, a short-term missionary to the city.

Parces is a popular slang term for “close friend,” but the group also has used it for an acronym to describe the values the project promotes:

  • P – Paz (Peace)
  • A – Amor (Love)
  • R – Recreación (Recreation)
  • C – Calidad de vida (Quality of life)
  • E – Estilo de vida (Lifestyle)
  • S – Sueños (Dreams)

The project, which is directed by 18 to 25-year-olds, was initiated in March 2004 with the creation of a soccer school in the El Pinal neighborhood in Medellin.

Today, 72 boys ages 7-16 participate in the project, as well as 12 adolescent girls, says O’Connor. The children and youth spend two to three days a week at practice and participate in a Christian tournament each Saturday.

Receiving Bibles at Retreat The coaches instruct the students in developing their soccer skills, while also introducing them to Jesus Christ and Christian values, says O’Connor. “One can already see the difference that this has made in these children’s lives.” (Lower photo shows one of the teams.)

“The youth who participate in Seamos Parces – who at one time were at risk for being recruited into gangs – are now the core members of the emerging youth group at El Pinal Covenant Church,” O’Connor says. “After a year of working with these youth, their coach has won their respect and love and has invited them to start attending church and youth group.

“Without the program Seamos Parces, these youth would never have considered entering a church, but now they are attending weekly youth group activities,” O’Connor continues. “This church two months ago had no youth group; today there are 30 youth attending, the majority of which are a part of Seamos Parces.”

Recently, 25 of the youth participated in their first Christian retreat, at which the director of Seamos Parces was the speaker. “Many stayed up late talking with the leaders, asking questions about the Bible and about what it means to be a Christian,” O’Connor says. Each of the youth received a New Testament and instruction on how to read it (top photo).

O’Connor says the ministry looks to extend the ministry to other neighborhoods as well as develop a school of music.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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