Juan is a Miami-born Cuban with a burden for Latin American youth.
As atheism gains a foothold on college campuses, he said, young Latinos—who come from a population that’s historically religious—are easily swayed, unable to defend their faith.
“Young people are walking away from the church. Pastors’ kids are starting to say they really don’t believe,” Juan said. “You’re sending your child to war, but their hands and feet are tied.”
Juan earned his Doctor of Ministry in Apologetics from SES in 2015. He’s a professor, speaker and writer for an apologetics ministry in Miami.
“There are hardly any Spanish-speaking apologists. I’m aware of less than a dozen,” he said. “The hunger is there. The need is there.”
Though Juan’s main outreach is to the Spanish-speaking population, he said his SES education helped teach him how to intellectually engage with current issues across the board. He may be reaching out in another language, but the core ideas remain the same.
The circumstances young Latin Americans find themselves in vary from country to country, he said, but there’s one common need: “They need to understand that their faith is rational. Their faith can be defended.”
So often, he explained, they aren’t taught that way in church. Then they go off to college unprepared.
For many years, Juan said, pastors saw apologetics as something necessary only for dealing with atheists—and since the majority of Latin America isn’t atheist, apologetics just wasn’t deemed essential.
Now, many pastors and congregants Juan speaks to are trying to catch up. Apologetics isn’t just for pointing atheists to Christ but for doing battle for your own faith, guarding against false beliefs and ideas.
“What we’re seeing now is a reaction,” Juan said. “The demand [for apologetics] is overwhelming.”
Prior to COVID-19, Juan traveled 180 days out of the year, speaking around the world at conferences, retreats and churches while addressing logic, philosophy, evolution and other religions.
He commends the exposure he got to such diverse topics at SES, all which have enhanced his ministry. He called his professors “focused and on point.”
Juan recently helped organize an online conference for about 30 families—some who speak Spanish—on witnessing to Muslim neighbors, classmates and coworkers in their different states.
It’s just one way he’s sharing his SES training across borders and languages.