Antonio* has caught the vision of building young leaders in his community. He grew up in the “International District” in Albuquerque. That’s the official name of the neighborhood, but the people who live there call it the “war zone.” It is an area with a mix of immigrants, Native Americans, and Latinos who face chronic problems of broken families, gangs, drugs, immigration issues, and more.
But it is a neighborhood with hope, because of the work of Juntos—a Navigator-led after school and summer program that invests in neighborhood kids and points them toward Jesus.
Throughout middle school, Antonio was involved faithfully in Juntos (which means “together”) and was mentored by one of the leaders. Even though Antonio wasn’t as involved in high school, now, as a young adult, he is investing in the next generation of boys in the neighborhood. He organizes activities for middle school boys and also pursues relationships with the high school boys who have dropped out of Juntos. Antonio is also being discipled by a local Christian businessman.
This generational impact is Laura Jenkins’ vision for Juntos. Laura serves on I-58 Navs staff and lives in the neighborhood with her family. Laura shares, “It is a joy seeing young people who have a heart for the next generation. Our small group leaders were personally impacted by the program when they were young and now they want to do the same thing for other kids. Since the leaders live in the neighborhood, they know the issues the kids face, and serve from a position of trust. This year marks the full circle, where our first group of Kindergarteners from years ago are now leading the program.”
Laura and her team would like to reach more kids in the neighborhood, but they are in need of a local meeting space. Currently it takes multiple trips in a van to transport more than 60 kids to the weekly meetings at borrowed church space. Laura says, “It breaks my heart to tell kids that there is a waiting list. We shouldn’t have a waiting list to tell kids about Jesus!”
* Name changed
Pray. Ask God for continued impact on generations of kids, and for meeting space in the neighborhood.