The Red Box Project based in Argentina combines church based youth work, detached youth work, discipleship training and schools work. It also facilitates a gap year programme which provides placement opportunities for young adults from the UK and Ireland to participate within a church and community setting in South America.
Cecilia Valdiviezo from Argentina, the Red Box Co-ordinator believes passionately that God calls and sends us into our communities to participate in His mission, going beyond our comfort zones by embracing evangelism and social action.
Children’s work is a valued area of ministry within the Red Box Project. Several ‘Escuelas Biblicas’ sometimes know as ‘Happy Hours’ are operational where young children are part of a church breakfast programme. This meets an immediate need as well as sharing God’s love through bible stories and children’s activities.
The weekly meetings for young people provide a space for them to meet, have fun, play games and build friendships. They also provide a safe environment for young people to learn more about God, to explore their faith, to grow and to be challenged. As well as weekly meetings, special events and outings are held throughout the year and every summer there is a special week long Christian summer camp.
“As a youth leader, my main priority when working with the young people is my commitment to them. I have been working with youth for more than 13 years, as a teacher and as a church youth leader, and my main goal has always been this: to be a support for them, to be someone they can rely on, but most of all, someone they can trust.” Cecilia Valdiviezo
Many of the young people within the various churches which Cecilia visits come from challenging homes and backgrounds. They have to live with daily struggles and work out their faith in complex circumstances. A quiet and unseen part of Cecilia’s ministry is home visitation, intentionally spending quality time with young people within their home environment with the aim of supporting, helping, listening and praying with them. As you can imagine the impact of this support goes beyond the young people as parents and members of the extended family come into contact with the Red Box Project.
“Having the Bread of life in my hands and not sharing it with others is not something that I feel comfortable with. I believe that if we truly consider the power that this bread has, we would live beyond our comfort zones, sharing the bread.” Cecilia Valdiviezo
An evolving part of the Red Box Project has been the opportunities for Cecilia to visit and run various programmes for young people in detention centres. Twice a week Cecilia and her team visit the young people. The sessions take a variety of different forms, but they are always interactive. One of the goals in this area of work is to provide the young people with the tools to change. Cecilia and her team of volunteers believe that God’s love can transform the lives of the young people they encounter in prison even though they are damaged and broken. An important, but sometimes challenging part of this work is to build relationships with the young people.
The majority come from backgrounds where love and attention were absent; often they have never known someone to care and accept them. Through spending time with the young people, and showing genuine interest in their lives, they begin to open up, and trust forms. Several young people from the church youth work programme have become involved in the weekly visits. The young Christians from the church have been challenged by meeting and sharing time with young people whose situation is very different to their own. Cecilia encourages them to give devotionals and share their testimonies and by doing this they have grown and gained confidence. This has had a major impact on the young people in the prison.
“The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.”
Another Red Box development has been an exciting initiative called The Cornerstone. Schools work has been part of the Red Box Project from the beginning but recently the Romance Academy programme which was developed in London has been translated into Spanish by Cecilia and the resource is now being delivered in numerous schools. The Romance Academy is a 14 week course that teaches about sex and relationships from a Christian point of view. Cecilia believes that whilst this can be a challenging topic to cover with young people, it’s vital to talk about it and share what God says about relationships.
“Teenagers in Argentina today live in a society where they are surrounded by sex – it’s in the media, the TV they watch, the music they listen to, they hear about it in school, from their classmates, from their friends. As a result of so much exposure, teenagers think that they know it all, but much of the information they have is wrong, or misunderstood.” Cecilia Valdiviezo
Gap Year Volunteers
The Red Box Project has been operational since 2006 and during that time 14 volunteers from UK and Ireland have had the opportunity to share their lives within local churches and communities in South America. The volunteers have been exposed to the South American culture, weather and customs. During a placement, volunteers share their gifts and experiences as they help in the various areas of the Red Box ministry. Whenever volunteers return home, they return with something imprinted deep within them. The Red Box Project allows volunteers to step outside of their comfort zone, to be alone, to think about where they are presently and where they’re heading in life and to examine choices they’ve made and decisions they still need to make. Volunteers are encouraged and challenged to see God’s presence, to perceive God’s power and to focus on God’s plan in spite of the obstacles.
“The programme we have for gap year volunteers in the Red Box project has been a blessing in my life. I know whenever the volunteers return home, they take with them a part of my country, a part of my ministry and a part of my heart for my people.” Cecilia Valdiviezo
Pray for the local churches who participate within the Red Box Project and especially Cecilia as she interacts and resources numerous individuals and communities. Red Box programmes and strategies alone don’t work. There are no magic wands to be waved. The Red Box Project simply seeks to create opportunities for individuals and communities to encounter the living Christ, not just at one-off events, but in the mundane and ordinary parts of life. Lives speak more than our words or works and our lives should speak about being transformed by Jesus, of working out our salvation, of being in it together. Journey with us. If you would like to participate with SAMS through receiving prayer updates on Cecilia’s ministry, or financially supporting Cecilia’s work in Argentina, please contact SAMS.
“God does not ask about our ability or our inability, but about our availability.”