Three years ago, I met cousins Robert (8)* and Phillip (5)* while participating in the Juntos tutoring program. Robert and Phillip had a special relationship, relying on each other for support and encouragement. Over the course of time, I would learn why.
During the “get-acquainted” portion of the program, Robert told me that he lived with his mom and some men whose names he didn't know. At this time, Robert was very much on edge and obviously nervous about almost everything. My heart broke for him.
Over the next several months, during weekly study-halls, I found that simply keeping Robert's focus on anything nondestructive was a success. He was constantly acting up, misbehaving, and being destructive. Eventually, I learned that both boys were routinely pulled out of their home in the middle of the night by child protective services. Yet, I would see them the next day and they would act as if nothing had happened. One foster family told me how the boys would sleep with the lights on, their dog at their sides, their lives filled with fear and uncertainty.
But my time with them was special. I would play ball with them, read to them, and help out with Phillip’s art interests. Tutoring of school subjects became secondary to building a trusting, healthy relationship. In reality, I may have been the only adult male they knew who treated them with respect, love, and encouragement.
Eventually, we began to discuss things of significance: like what they might do with their lives and how to deal with hard times, like when an older school friend was killed on the street. The weight of the issues these children deal with is staggering! Robert, though, still had challenges. He was kicked out of one school for fighting. Still, I always tried to let them know they were loved.
It was often with the simplest gestures that real relationship was formed. When I brought his favorite pineapple-and-bacon pizza to our meeting, Phillip was amazed that I had listened to what he told me.
Fast forward three years. Robert and Phillip are still involved with Juntos. There have been some improvements in their family life, but times are still tough. After a recent meeting, though, I reflected on the remarkable transformation in their lives. Robert is more controlled, shows less anger, and seems like a genuinely happy soul. Phillip, always a smiler, now has a focus to his activities and is excited to be learning and growing. I believe the love and care these boys received at Juntos changed the paths of their lives. They still have hard times ahead (as do we all), but they can take heart in the promise of Jesus: that through Him we can overcome this world.
How can you be part of this miracle-making program? You can volunteer your time and show a child he or she really is loved. And, after 12 years of stories like this, Juntos is finally able to work toward purchasing a permanent facility in the target neighborhood! With suitable buildings becoming available, the funding needs are significant, but certainly achievable. A new facility negates costly van transportation and increases access. Click here to donate to the building fund.
(Individual photo taken by Jasmine Mostrom)
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The One to One Soul Care Conference will be held at MCC November 9-10. Are you interested in biblical counseling? Do you feel you want some training on how to walk with a brother or sister in their dark seasons? Please join us! Click here to register at or contact Elizabeth for more information.
Please note - the Sponsorship Training for the Wood Ministry will be rescheduled for a later date. Please contact Don & Ann Moore with questions.
Pull out your mixers and aprons! SHINE is looking for people who can donate cakes, or other desserts, for A. Montoya’s Fall Festival! Cakes can be dropped off at the church foyer Friday, October 26 between 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. Questions? Click here to sign up to bring a cake!MCC is gearing up for the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoebox drive! The mission of OCC is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Last year MCC collected 230 shoe boxes to be gifted to children around the world! Boxes will be available this Sunday, October 21st, in the foyer and the final drop-off date is November 11th! It is a great time to start gathering items to bless children around the world!
Shine also has a unique food pantry at A. Montoya! Kids often go to bed without dinner, come to school too late for breakfast, and aren't sure if there will be dinner that night. We have been asked to create a small food pantry at the school that would contain items like tuna packets, apples, macaroni and cheese, Ensure or Boost, peanut butter crackers, nuts, and the like. The children could keep these items in their backpacks so that they would always have something to keep them going. We are working on putting together a list of items, including gluten-free ones, that we would like to stock the pantry with. Please pray about whether you would like to donate items or money to help keep the pantry stocked year-round!