Written by Julie Nelson, Long-time Mission Adelante Volunteer
“Sit down--nobody wants you here.” I heard these words whispered from a group of watching teens, as I was standing up, explaining an upcoming event at Teens Adelante. The words were accompanied by the unmistakable smacking of lips that only a girl highly skilled in the art of teenage angst can produce. I was a new volunteer with the teens program and could tell that breaking into this group would be difficult with some of the teens. I wasn’t hurt or surprised by the words; I had worked with teens before and it was precisely comments like this that made me want to be a part of what God was doing here. I knew that this teen, like most teens I knew, had at some point experienced loss and heartache. She’d felt insecure and insignificant. It’s our natural human tendency to protect ourselves at all costs; to reject others before we can be rejected. I continued showing up every week, getting to know the teens and earning the right to be heard, and she quickly opened up. We talked about past hurts and future goals. She would ask me to pray for her and the fear she was experiencing. God was working in both of us. Those teens were hilarious, kind, wildly talented, and so incredibly smart. God used this community to sanctify, encourage and teach me.
Fast-forward four and half years and I’m still volunteering with Mission Adelante, now with the Leaders In Training (LIT) program. I love getting to be a part of their lives and I love the impact they have on mine. I’m excited about the future, knowing they will be our leaders. But I’ve been thinking lately about that comment from a teen over 4 years ago: “Nobody wants you here.” I can’t help but think that the kids I love and their families are now hearing that same message, except it’s not coming from one angst filled teen; but from lawmakers, people in power, and millions of voices in our nation--from people that could have a real impact on their lives or the lives of their family members. The context is so different, but I think the root is still the same as it was in that teen’s comment: fear. Fear drives us to hate and blinds us to the beauty God has created in others. I can’t imagine KCK or the US without these kids, and my hope is that they know how loved they are. Even more, I hope people can discard their own fear, so that they don’t miss out on the beauty and adventure of loving people from all places. I know my life would not be the same without getting to know these amazing people.
- Are you looking for a practical way to help refugees and immigrants? Consider purchasing from Mission Adelante's Top Ten list on Amazon. Mission Adelante serves a large number of men, women and children each week and is in need of various items. A link to the wish list can be found on Mission Adelante's website under Give Stuff.
- Adelante Thrift is in need of High Impact Volunteers. If you are interested in serving at Adelante Thrift in an on-going basis, please visit our website at www.adelantethrift.com/volunteer