Academia Cristo Update

Michael Hartman (Miami, Florida, USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Missionary Michael Hartman has served in world missions for more than 20 years, and currently leads the WELS Latin America mission team and serves as president of Academia Cristo. He has traveled throughout Latin America, lived in Mexico and Puerto Rico, and now resides in the Miami metro area with his wife Rachel and their four kids. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Church Planting, and focuses on enabling Christians to carry out ministry with consumer-focused technology.

During the last few years the WELS Latin America mission team wondered, “Will we see on-the-ground results?” In 2020, we got an answer. But before we share that answer with you, let’s back up a bit.

During the last couple of years, the WELS Latin America mission team has used the Academia Cristo website to distribute ministry resources. These resources are in Spanish, available online, and offered free to anyone interested in learning about the Bible. Furthermore, individuals can receive training to teach the Bible message to others, lead congregations, and access worship resources for in-person gatherings.

Academia Cristo quickly gathered a strong online presence. Today it has more than 1 million followers on social media. Every few months hundreds of thousands of Internet users download its biblical resources.

Thus, as a mission team, we could look at our computer screens and see a clear message: hungry souls in grace-starved Latin America were being touched with the Gospel.

And yet, under God, we wanted more than just an online ministry. We yearned to see real people sharing what they learned through Academia Cristo in their own neighborhoods. We hoped to find local leaders open brick-and-mortar churches. We longed to see the Gospel clearly proclaimed in an on-the-ground way in Latin America.

This year, to that lingering question of whether on-the-ground results would occur God has granted a “yes.” What’s more, that “yes” has resounded again and again, as locations continue to light up on our radar that indicate real-life Gospel proclamations. Consider these examples of what Academia Cristo followers have carried out in the last months:

Santos, who lives in a village in rural Honduras, holds weekly gatherings.
At these, he shares the message of sin and grace with more than 100 people in attendance.

Camilo lives in Bogotá, Colombia. He was encouraged to study in Academia Cristo by his brother,
a member of a WELS church in the United States. Now Camilo is a new Christian.
He is opening his home to start a Lutheran church in his city.

Fabiola in Quito, Ecuador, gathers around the Word of God with her sisters in their home.
Together, they make plans to invite friends to their gatherings.

Pablo of Asuncion, Paraguay, shares lessons he has learned through Academia Cristo
with those who attend the small house-church he has established.

Lester of Managua, Nicaragua is a brand new Christian. He takes what he is learning and
shares it with family and friends in what he calls his communist country.


The list goes on…in every single country in Latin America, stories such as these are unfolding. Sharing them all here would require pages and pages. Simply put, God has provided on-the-ground results in Latin America. Through Academia Cristo, students are becoming leaders and training new disciples in their own real-world circles.

As travel resumes in Latin America, our missionaries are following up in person with individuals who have learned about the Gospel through Academia Cristo and shared it in their streets and cities. The missionaries are meeting with people like Santos, David, Artemio, Fabiola, and Pablo. During these visits, the missionaries are providing one-on-one instruction, mentoring, and encouragement.

Join us in breaking out in song to God, just as Paul did in the midst of his letter to the Ephesians. Like Paul, we praise our God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!”

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Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2020-10-24 7:32:56pm
Mike, it's so good to read about these good brothers and sisters in Christ who are extending the Kingdom under the Holy Spirits' power. Clearly AC has been a team effort, and the team has probably grown over the years. Could you summarize its current composition? I'm not asking for names (unless you want to supply them) but positions: what kind of organizational structure is required to maintain this ministry?
Mike 2020-10-26 1:02:50pm
Tom, Great question. Academia Cristo is really a collaborative effort between three teams. In no particular order, I'm blessed to serve on a team of 6 WELS world missionaries called to share the good news in Latin America. The second team is Multi-Language Productions (MLP), a branch of WELS world missions. They make the resources we need and help us manage our social media pages. All of the people who serve the MLP Latin America effort are either part time, contract for specific projects or volunteers. Our third, and perhaps most essential team, are the national church leaders throughout Latin America who volunteer by helping to teach or work face-to-face with Academia Cristo students.

All told, there are now over 50 people participating in some way. (Mostly as volunteers) From a mom in Miami who helps with social media posts to a pastor in Bolivia who writes devotions, to a teacher in Chile who helps chats live with people who visit our website to a pastor in northern Mexico who volunteers to teach students online to a leader in Venezuela who creates the title images for our videos, to a Colombian pastor who visits Academia Cristo students working to start small group Bible studies in their homes, it's very much a team effort. It's also an idea that began with 5 people sitting around a table.

Mike 2020-10-26 1:03:54pm
I thought you might be interested to see this recently completed map of all those who have completed at least 1 Academia Cristo course between March 1 and September 30 of this year.