Check out these Frequently Asked Questions
It’s hard to nail down a typical day, since our participants serve in different churches and local ministries with varied needs and schedules…but here’s an idea of a “typical” week:
Sunday: Worship at assigned church and time with Mexican family
Monday: Generally a day of rest
Tuesday: Avance meetings for training, worship and fellowship
Wednesday – Saturday: Work in ministries, take Spanish classes, spend time with host family and Mexican friends, meet with Avance facilitator, Avance Bible Study and accountability group.
Each placement will be different depending on the needs of the church you’re placed in. As an interdenominational organization we partner with a wide variety of evangelical churches with different styles and forms of worship.
We interview families who are a part of the churches that Avance works with and go through a process to make sure they are suitable hosts for our participants. We seek families who are involved with the church, and in some cases, the pastor’s family may host our participants. Furthermore, when possible, we aim to place female participants with families who have daughters and males with families who have sons.
During the summer program our participants are assigned to a specific local church and on Friday’s are given the opportunity to serve in different ministries in the city, which can be long-term options for the year and two year assignments.
For those serving for a year or longer, we look at your expressed interests and passions, your educational background, your goals and make an assignment based on these interests.
We have a few strategic partners which we work with regularly: The Comunidad Universitaria Reformada– or Reformed University Fellowship which works with University students at the large National Autonomous University of Mexico (the UNAM). El Pozo de Vida – or the Well of Life, which works with Victims of Human Trafficking and two international schools – the Instituto Metropolitano Estrella and Bridgeway North American School.
We make placements with other organizations as well, according to the current needs of these ministries and the interests and background of our participants.
Although it is important to speak the language to be able to communicate with the locals, it’s ok if you do not know Spanish before coming to Avance. All participants will be placed in Spanish classes according to their level. Since Spanish is the heart language of Mexicans, we expect our participants to dedicate themselves to learning the language and ministering in Spanish.
Throughout the summer and year, you will be placed in a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level Spanish class with the other participants. Throughout the year, you will be provided Spanish classes depending on your level of proficiency.
The program cost covers all your living expenses during your time in Mexico. This includes food, rent, and public transportation within the city. If you like to travel in Uber or related service you’ll need to raise a bit more to cover these expenses. Airfare is not included, but you can raise extra funds for this.
Mexico City is the largest city in Latin America and one of the largest cities in the world so naturally it has the problems of crime and corruption that abound in any large city. These problems can be worse at night and some areas are well known to be more dangerous than others. The important thing is to be careful and exercise common-sense precautions. As Christians we look at the crime problem as both a danger to avoid and as evidence of the city’s deep need for the gospel.
If you have further questions about safety, we encourage you to continu reading our FAQs on Safety in Mexico City, and/or to talk with one of our program leaders. We are happy to respond to any questions you have. The health and safety of participants in our program has always been and will continue to be a high priority for us, especially in these uncertain times. Although there are risks involved in any overseas assignment, and specifically here in Mexico, we can confidently say, that our participants safety is of high importance for us.
With the escalation of drug violence along the border over the last few years, we’ve had concerned applicants and parents ask us about safety in Mexico City. We hope this answers your questions and helps you to understand both the challenges and opportunities in Mexico City.
Many have noted an increase in violent crime in northern Mexico in the last ten years. Almost all of the increase in crime is due to the drug cartels that are smuggling drugs into the US. Most of the violence is targeted at competing cartels or the police, although some innocent citizens have also been caught in the crossfire. It has been reported that 40% of the bodies have tested positive for cocaine or marijuana.
Drug-related crime in Mexico City has been very low compared to other regions in Mexico. It’s easy for Americans to clump all of Mexico together, but remember that Mexico City is 500 miles from the closest border and more than 1000 miles from Ciudad Juárez. An analogy might be helpful: if there were sudden riots and crime problems in Atlanta would you alter your travel plans to Washington, D.C. that is more than 500 miles away? The drug problems are real and Americans should exercise care in certain regions, but this is not affecting Mexico City.
Mexico City is the third-largest city in the world and so naturally it has the problems of crime and corruption that abound in any large city. These problems are worse at night and some areas are well known to be more dangerous than others. The important thing is to be careful and exercise common-sense precautions. As Christians, we look at the crime problem as both a danger to avoid and as evidence of the city’s deep need for the gospel.
The Avance program has served the Mexican church for almost 50 years hosting short term missionaries in Mexico City. During these years we have watched the city grow and have learned from experience what safety precautions are necessary to keep summer participants safe. These are all reviewed during the Orientation that takes place during the first three days of the program.
Avance participants are encouraged to travel in pairs when possible. They have a nightly curfew at 9:30 pm unless they are accompanied by their Mexican family or church members. Furthermore, they are encouraged to arrive at home before dark. We also give tips on how Avance participants can avoid looking like tourists in how they dress, what they carry and how they act in public places. We teach them how to use public transportation and to always be aware of their surroundings. All valuables (including passports and credit/debit cards) are placed in a safe upon arrival and participants only carry the money and items they will need for the day. We discourage using taxis, but if a taxi is needed we recommend a phone taxi service which is much safer than flagging a taxi on the street. Furthermore, we encourage participants to register their travel with their respective embassies or consulates: American citizens may register their travel plans to Mexico through the U.S. State Department’s travel registration website: https://step.state.gov/ Canadians can register their travel at: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration
“The health and safety of participants in our program has always been and will continue to be a high priority for us, especially in these uncertain times. Although there are risks involved in any overseas assignment, and specifically here in Mexico, we can confidently say that our participants’ safety is of high importance for us.
Having said this, we cannot guarantee the safety of our participants any more then we can guarantee that nothing will happen to them if they stay home, but be assured we will continue to do all that is possible to avoid risks for our participants and to ensure their safety. Throughout our family’s two terms of service here in this city (over 18 years), we have experienced God’s faithful care and protection both personally and in the lives of program volunteers. Ultimately, wherever we are, we all live under our good Lord’s faithful care and grace.”
Paul Johnson – Avance Director