Guest Post :: How God Used Cultural Immersion Training as Ministry

Written by Jared Anderson

ReachGlobal Mexico City

On September 26th, 2014, I met the family that I would live with for the next year of my life. I had moved to Mexico City three days earlier in order to go through and help evaluate a yearlong missions immersion program called Avance, for the ReachGlobal Mexico City team. ReachGlobal wanted to know if Avance would be a good partner for a one-year missions training program. Avance focuses on incarnational ministry by working with local churches and ministries and cultural immersion by living with Mexican family. I remember the car ride to be dropped off with my family being one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.

Paul, the Avance director, who was dropping me off was telling me about the family that I was going to live with. Then, I had to ask, “Do they speak English?”

“Well…”, he said. I didn’t hear anything after that. I knew immediately that lack of response meant “no”. This made me even more nervous– although I had studied Spanish in high school, I knew that my Spanish level was not near what I would need to have a real conversation. I felt utterly unprepared.

Immediately, the family helped me to feel comfortable. They included me in all their family activities, some of which I understood, and others that made no sense to me. They became my cultural guides. They helped me learn Spanish, made me the most delicious Mexican food, and patiently answered my questions like a parent answering the questions of a four-year-old just discovering the world. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were also opportunities for ministry right there within the family.

Enrique is the oldest child in the family. He was a 19-year-old university student when I met him and didn’t really have an interest in the things of God. He went to church with his family, but only out of obligation. We ended up spending a lot of time together. We would have conversations about inconsequential things that created inside jokes (mostly having to do with my lack of ability to communicate in Spanish).

However, as I grew in the ability to communicate, the conversation got more substantial. I would recount my day to him, telling him about the things I had been doing in ministry that day or what I learned in our Avance training. Those turned into opportunities to share who God is. He started to come with me to a Bible study at the church plant that I was attending.

In March, about 6 months into my time with the family, my Mexican mamá stopped me as I came home. She told me that she had seen a change in Enrique’s life since I had been there. I was not expecting to hear anything of that sort. I did not know how to respond. I wasn’t exactly sure what I had done. At that moment, I realized that God was working through me without me even realizing it.

In January 2016, Enrique was baptized, and he has been actively involved in the Church that we attend together. He has been co-leading a community group with me in the church since last year.

In Avance, the leaders kept telling us that there would be discipleship opportunities in the families with which we lived. They called it a “ministry of presence”. Even though I arrived and felt completely unprepared, God used me just by being a part of their lives.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Avance program in Mexico City, as one of ReachGlobal’s ministry partners, please contact If you are a high school graduate looking for a way to invest your gap year in kingdom work, this is a great opportunity! The program begins in the fall, so be sure to apply soon.