Edgar Soriano had just started attending Mission Adelante’s new program for teens, and a volunteer was leading him through a list of questions for an aptitude test designed to help the students determine their various gifts and abilities.
“Why do we have to answer these questions?” he asked. “These are dumb.”
“Well, do you believe we’re here for a reason?” the volunteer asked him.
“Not really,” Edgar admitted.
The volunteer proceeded to ask him if he believed in Jesus and if he wanted to accept Jesus into his life. Edgar went along with it, praying the prayer, even though he didn’t really believe. Not yet anyway. But today, he looks back at that moment as a turning point because it was the first time he had thought about the important questions of “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”
Edgar first began attending Mission Adelante’s after-school program as a thirteen-year-old who was struggling to behave and follow the rules. For a young teen who had never known his biological father, the family-oriented Mission Adelante was a godsend.
“Coming here and having that feeling of family just switched gears on me,” he explained.
Edgar gradually became more involved with the ministry, accepting Jesus and then learning from one of the program mentors how to play the bass guitar. One Sunday, he was scheduled to play with an Adelante worship band, and he invited his family to come watch.
“I didn’t expect anything [to come out] of it,” he said. “But sure enough, we had just started the service when they came in through the back. Ever since that day, my mom especially has been passionately coming, and they’re involved in the church too.”
After that, Edgar steadily continued to grow and take on more leadership until he accepted a summer internship with Mission Adelante, then a year-long internship, and finally, a 3-year apprenticeship. Today, as part of his apprenticeship, he acts as director of the Adelante teens program, though he also works frequently with the younger students involved in the Leaders in Training program.
The transition to leadership was sometimes a struggle. Often, during his time in the teens program, people would compliment Edgar on his leadership abilities and tell him they could picture him leading a program like this someday. He didn’t think much about their words…yet today, he is in the exact place they predicted. Every step of the way, he has seen God guiding him in this direction.
He remembers one mentor in particular who had a positive effect on him during his teen years. “David helped me see where I was wanting to go…. [After high school] I didn’t continue on to college, and so I was a little lost as to how my life would continue,” he explained. “I put myself down a lot, but once I started this path of ministry, I’ve seen how I’ve grown…. [David and his wife] were sort of my guides.”
Since then, Edgar has had the opportunity to act as a mentor to a number of young boys in the kids and teens programs. “I can connect to them, being Hispanic/Latino, being a male teenager. Our boys here don’t really have godly, male figures. Me being here – that’s an opportunity.”
In fact, working with kids and teens has been the biggest highlight of Edgar’s time at Mission Adelante. “I have definitely enjoyed watching some of my boys growing up. In some of them, I see things [and think], ‘Hey, I used to be like that.’ And so, seeing them change into something good…it has definitely been a highlight for me.”
Edgar’s faith and relationship with Jesus has grown and strengthened throughout his time at Mission Adelante, especially through daily discipleship and time spent studying Scripture with other Adelante leaders during his internships and apprenticeship.
“Throughout the process [of my internships], I became strongly attached to Jesus,” he said. “The whole path that I have taken here, God has definitely been pulling me in. Even times when I felt like ‘I don’t belong here,’ or think, ‘I want to do something else,’ God’s like, ‘Nope. You’re mine. This is where I want you.’”