In Latin America today, many young people have spiritual curiosity but do not have any desire to attend a church. Maybe they see church as boring or irrelevant. Maybe church people have rejected them. In some cases, they have been victims of church abuse. Two things are sure: there are a lot of these young “rebels,” and God loves them with the same great love He has for all His children.
Encountering this reality in Guatemala, Mark and Brenda Hall came to believe that if people cannot be convinced to GO to church, perhaps they can be convinced to BE the church, wherever they are. The concept of their “Koinonia” ministry is to equip young misfits to form their own small faith communities outside the walls of churches so they can become disciples of Jesus and reach other rejected people with the message of New Life in Christ.
For over a decade, the Halls worked closely with young people like this in the remote Mayan town of Totonicapán in Guatemala. They learned that these young rebels grow much better as Christians by wrestling with Scripture in group studies, rather than by just listening to one man preach. And they learned that they can become very good at reaching and discipling their own rebellious friends for Christ. Eventually, the youth of the Totonicapán group grew and assumed leadership of their ministry, without the need for an outside missionary or pastor.
From a distance, Mark & Brenda still provide moral support, Bible study guides, and advice to the Koinonia ministry in Guatemala. But the young people they previously discipled are now growing the ministry on their own. After 18 years working in Guatemala, the Halls took what they learned in Totonicapán to a new country and to a much bigger city—Guadalajara, Mexico. This new challenge will provide more opportunities to learn and to reach young people with the gospel of grace.
Mark accepted Jesus at age 13 at a Christian school. At 16, he joined a church with a strong missions program, which had a big influence on him. A few years after beginning a career as a police officer in his hometown of Santa Cruz, California, he felt a call to missions. While studying toward that goal, he continued as a patrol officer for ten more years and gained valuable experience working among poor immigrants from Latin America.
Brenda was born and raised in Guatemala City. She accepted Christ at one of Missions Door’s churches in Guatemala. The two met when Mark led a construction project there in 2000. Since their marriage, they have worked as a team in ministry.
Their daughter, Gabriela, was born in 2003 and son, Kelsey, in 2009, both in Guatemala City.
- B.A. Linguistics, University of California Santa Cruz
- M.A. Ministry, Western Seminary
- English Degree, Universidad Mesoamericana, Quetzaltenango