My name is Brian Verdugo and I serve as a missionary with Youth for Christ International. I was born and raised in Woodland, California which is near Sacramento. My nuclear family consisted of both parents and one sister who is five years younger than I am. My wife and I were married in 1998 and spent several years living in the Los Angeles area before accepting a ministry Assignment in South Africa with Youth for Christ.
My salvation story is one that saw me go from a person repulsed by anything to do with church until my early 20’s to one who was willing to try it out to one who was excited to go to church to one who leaves home to serve God. The change, of course, came through the power of the gospel. I thought that I knew the stories growing up and thought of them just as that, stories. It wasn’t until I opened the Bible under the guidance of strong teachers that I finally saw that there was something there to be studied; there was truth; there was power. My heart must be about two years behind my mind because after two years of being on fire for the study of God’s word, it finally hit me. If everything in the Bible is true, then there is an infinite chasm between me and God.
I realized my desperate sinful condition and need for a savior. I already knew who that Savior was and that He had died for my sins and risen from the dead. Putting those two truths together, I needed only one more thing, the hardest thing. I chose to lay my life down at the feet of Jesus and recognize Him in my heart for what I already knew Him to be in my mind. It was then that I truly became a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. It has been a wild ride ever since. One that has led me from the United States to South Africa and now to the small island nation of Seychelles where my wife and I are pioneering Youth for Christ. We train leaders and help grow churches, but the heart of what we do is the evangelism and discipleship of unchurched and unreached youth. I cannot think of anything else that I would rather be doing.
I love to learn, but there are many places in the world where there is a shortage of solid Biblical teaching. Seychelles is one of those places. My wife and I were married young and entered the mission field fairly early in life. Though both of us have learned a lot between our church experience and training in YFC, neither of us have any kind of degree or ordination to show for it. The fact that we can change this through CLI is a tremendous blessing and the fact that the cost is amazingly low really helps a couple like us who work on a missionary budget. CLI not only presents the opportunity to learn, but also provides me with some credibility as a servant of the Lord. CLI is also becoming an asset to our ministry here in Seychelles as solid Biblical training is another goal of Youth for Christ Seychelles. We are recommending CLI to many leaders in Seychelles. Our own pastor has recently applied and is anxious to start the CLI courses.
Though I don’t work in any one church, I identify myself most with the term Pastor. As I stated, my ministry is heavily focused on evangelism and discipleship and I am deeply involved in this ministry day to day. I have had the privilege of seeing many young people come to the Lord, but I don’t feel that I am a gifted evangelist, I am just doing what every Christian is expected to do. I feel that my strongest gifts come in the form of teaching and shepherding, therefore I feel that I am gifted in the mold of a pastor. You could say that I am a pastor of unchurched youth.
Seychelles faces many spiritual challenges. The foremost problem that I see is a lack of trained pastors and Biblical teachers. Many churches stray out of bounds doctrinally and people are very confused as to what the Bible teaches about salvation, spiritual gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, we have the support of many churches in the United States and our local church here in Seychelles is becoming a shining city on a hill when it comes to solid Biblical teaching. We have many people from this church serving as volunteers and board members in Youth for Christ Seychelles. Youth for Christ Seychelles has been given access to secondary school campuses through our Campus Life program. The simplest way I can describe Campus Life is that it is a crazy youth group type atmosphere with loud music and the Bible being presented in a way that unchurched youth can appreciated and understand it.