“Highest paying jobs.”
A young student in the University of Sonora Googles these words and presses enter on his keyboard. He didn’t even have to complete his thought – the phrase popped up immediately as he typed the words. A plethora of results appear on his screen. Anesthesiologist, general physician, OBGYN. All with salaries over $200,000. He imagines big houses and fancy cars. He imagines happiness. Happiness that will fill the emptiness inside.
Elohim Salazar was like this student. He wanted to be a civil engineer and pursue a cushy financial life. But at eighteen, a persistent feeling gnawed at him. Something was missing. He thought back to his Christian upbringing and asked himself, “What does Christianity have to do with me?”
The Journey to Campus Ambassador
Elohim grew up in a Christian home in Mexico and was the grandchild of a pastor. At seven, his mom gave him the gospel and he invited Jesus into his heart. At nine, his family moved to Tijuana to serve in a Baptist church. But the transition from high school graduation to college is really when he began reading the Bible intentionally and tried to understand it. Psalm 138:8 had a significant impact on him – “The Lord will vindicate me; Your love, Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of Your hands.” God opened his mind and helped him understand that his life served a bigger purpose than accomplishing temporary goals. He dedicated his whole life to Christ and asked God to show him how He wanted to use him.
As a young man, Elohim lacked guidance in the church. He felt a burden on his heart to disciple young people. He worked as a youth pastor while in seminary and upon graduation, got connected with Missions Door. He never would’ve guessed that the college students who came down from Oregon to help with his childhood church in Tijuana were Campus Ambassadors. It was Aaron Palmatier, VP of Missions Door, who taught his Sunday School class. When Aaron came to preach at his seminary graduation, Elohim immediately spoke with him about college ministry.
A Generation Raised by Social Media
Like other Campus Ambassadors, Elohim has noticed social media’s disturbing influence on the younger generation. Social media is giving young people a deceptive image of life. They have warped worldviews and distorted senses of identity. Most of all, it’s stunted their ability to form deep relationships in real life. Social media itself can’t be completely blamed. Elohim is watching the consequences of a generation being raised by parents who are too busy for them. These teenagers and young adults are running to false relationships they can create online because their parents aren’t there. Their parents aren’t establishing the foundation their kids need, so children are left to build it themselves. Because they don’t know how to connect with humans outside of a screen, they don’t know how to connect with God either.
Elohim is committed to creating safe communities and authentic relationships with his students at the University of Sonora. The public university is located in Hermosillo, Mexico and doesn’t allow official religious meetings, so Bible studies are often held casually in coffee shops or gardens. Unlike U.S. universities, universities in Mexico don’t have dorms. Most students are coming from religious or non-practicing Catholic backgrounds. Many are trying to get away from their parents’ faith and reject all thing spiritual. They’re purely focused on getting a degree, attaining a good-paying job, and living happily ever after. Elohim can relate and encourages them to evaluate the authenticity of their joy. Are they actually happy?
Building Community and Friendship
Elohim is intentional about using the first hour of Bible study to just catch up. Only after his small group eats dinner together and talks about life will they start their study. This fellowship design creates a solid community of believers and teaches them how to make connections with people outside of their phones. It’s especially needed post-pandemic, as isolation has increased screen time. The University of Sonora only recently resumed in-person teaching, so their small groups were previously meeting outside of campus in someone’s home. He was excited to see new believers being discipled and some nonbelievers joining them.
One of those nonbelievers was an agnostic student. While Elohim loves apologetics, he believes love is more powerful in winning the lost to Christ than arguments and debates. The right answer isn’t always enough. In the case of the agnostic student, he attended their Bible studies because he finally found a group people who cared about him. A lot of students don’t understand the difference between Christianity and Catholicism, but say, “I like this better because I don’t get this in the Catholic church.” Elohim has encounters many college students who reject religion all together. He would love prayer for these young people to discover that Christ is more concerned about their relationship with Him and others than religion.
Elohim understands the Mexican culture because he’s Mexican himself. He relates to the choices many Mexican college students face because he was in their shoes, too. One of the ways we support his ministry is by creating the Bible study material he uses. If you’d like to support Missions Door Campus Ambassador Elohim, you can do so at his page here. And if you’d like to support other indigenous missionaries who are serving in their own country, you can do so through our Strategic Advance Fund.
How Can You Help
The Great Commission is what spurs us to do indigenous ministry. Around the world, Christians are bringing the Gospel to their people and making disciples in their hometowns. How will you be a part of this?