Reaching Out to Youth in Their Own Language

Portuguese ministry uses hip-hop culture to tell young people about Jesus

Bill Sundstrom

Pedro Barbosa and Aventura, Cru in Portugal, are simply bursting with new ideas of how to reach youth.

Take music, for example. Pedro likes hip-hop, as do many young people in Portugal. So naturally he sought ways to use hip-hop to spread the gospel. As a result, Pedro and the Aventura team put together a hip-hop festival near Porto, which drew some 300 people.

"We were afraid at first," he says, "because normally hip-hop people are a bit violent. And we had no police."

But they stepped out in faith and invited several Christian groups. A non-Christian singer/writer known as "Rato" gave advice on how to organize the festival and suggested such events as a graffiti-writing contest.

When the doors opened, festival-goers pushed in as usual, but quickly noticed something different. "We acted out of love," explains Pedro, "and they could see that. They calmed down and weren't violent."

Since the city hall had co-sponsored the festival, nobody gave an evangelistic invitation. But the Christian groups, as well as Aventura staff members, talked to many youth about faith in Christ. The event has led to other hip-hop outreaches, such as one at the "Pintar a Vida" café near Porto.

"It is so difficult to reach youth," says Elena Costa, owner of the café. "When you talk of God, they are out the door. But through music, you can reach them."

Pedro would agree. In fact, he's already planning to hold another big hip-hop festival next year.

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