Written by Daniel Garcia, Ministry Apprentice
Leading the Latino youth program has been one of the toughest experiences of my life while also being the most rewarding thus far. When I was first called by the Lord, I was terrified at the idea of running a whole program by myself. I struggled with knowing what to talk to the teens about. So many ideas ran through my head, and I couldn’t settle on one. I decided that since it was my first trimester, I would let the teens decide what they wanted to talk about. They had a lot of suggestions, but I found a common trend: mental health. So many of our teens don’t know how to confront mental illness and are found searching for solutions by themselves.
I prayed about how I would be able to help the teens find a clear vision for what they and their friends were struggling with. I prayed some more and realized that neither I nor the volunteers were qualified enough to talk about this subject. I found a wonderful couple in our church congregation, Sean and Alejandra, who were willing to spend time educating the teens on mental health. Alejandra is a psychologist and Sean is a med student. Alejandra kicked off the night by doing an exercise with the teens about themselves. She asked them questions about things they wanted to learn, how they cope with their feelings, what they do for fun, and what is important to them. It was beautiful! Some teens opened up about their personal struggles. Some teens shared about family and friends that struggled with their mental health. Through the night I could see God working and reaching the teens. The teens asked a lot of questions and Sean responded with so many insightful answers. We ended the night in prayer and before we left Sean and Ale expressed to the teens the importance of developing a relationship with God and maintaining a healthy diet. (Personally still working on the last part.)
It touched my heart to know that teens in our community are facing silent challenges. My goal is to give them a platform within our program to be able to speak about their struggles. I’m thankful that I get to serve an amazing group of teens and God in ways that are so fulfilling to me. I am eager to see how God will use me to bring the teens closer to Him.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Have you ever wondered what goes on at a typical night of programming at Mission Adelante? Adelante Arts Community, Refugee Kids Club, Refugee Youth, Teens Adelante, Citizenship Class, Latino ESL, and Kids Adelante have Observation Nights coming up! Visit www.missionadelante.org/observe to sign up!