The need was great; the workers were few.
That's what Steve and Terry Morgan discovered when they and their four kids moved to Mexico to help with a Campus Crusade for Christ ministry to college students in 1995. There were eight Mexican staff members working on a campus in Monterrey. But compared to the task, much lay ahead.
"The need is huge," says Steve, 45, who began directing Campus Crusade's ministry in Mexico in 1999. The country has more than 3 million students and 850 universities, he says. And more than 50 percent of the population is under 20 years of age, according to Operation World, an international mission almanac.
Yet growth takes time.
When they arrived, Steve and Terry began working at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, a mountainous college town of 500,000 in central Mexico.
They focused heavily on evangelism, often giving leadership talks to classes, which included an explanation of how to begin a relationship with God. Steve was asked to give the talks to all incoming freshmen. The ministry soon attracted students, and some made decisions to follow Christ.
By the next year, the campus ministry expanded and then had a presence in four cities. The workers gradually increased too: More Americans moved to Mexico, and by 2000, 12 Mexicans had become staff members.
Alejandra Peredo, 28, who became a Christian as a student, joined Campus Crusade in 2003. As the ministry has grown, so has the optimism. "We are dreaming about having spiritual movements at each university," says Alejandra. "God can do that, and we are seeing part of it happen now."
Today there are more than 75 workers on campus, including 40 Mexicans. The ministry has a presence in 12 cities on 25 campuses, with more than 400 total students involved. They also send mission trips to three different countries.
"The combination of Mexican and American staff working together has been really powerful," says Steve.
Steve relishes the success, but keeps perspective. "There is danger in patting ourselves on the back," he says. "Our vision is for every student. We have a long way to go in Mexico."