Rocio, one of our ACJU participants, explained how being a part of ACJU led to her becoming involved in our youth ministries: “In addition to developing my character, participating in ACJU made me question, ‘What am I missing?’ And I realized that missing piece was spiritual. When I became involved in ACJU 7 years ago, I was going through a very rough time in my life, to the point where I was thinking about suicide. When I became part of ACJU, I realized that things weren’t as bad as I thought they were; that they could be different. That motivated me to change my attitude towards life and how I could be a part of it.”
“As a youth, I found that path by getting involved in Comunidades de Shalom, where I was able to develop a relationship with God even though I am young. I met friends who are true friends, because they are brothers and sisters in Christ. And I feel like my youth can serve as an example for past and future generations, like it says in I Timothy 4:12, ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.’ And that has led me to develop the fullness of my character: I have become kinder, stronger, and more decisive, but always humble, not just looking out for myself but rather trying to see how I can benefit those around me.” Rocio, a successful graduate of our vocational training school, is now one of the principal leaders in our Comunidades de Shalom youth Bible study, “Jóvenes en Acción.”
Maricela originally became involved in ConeXión Mosaico through ACJU, our youth initiative, and then began to participate in our youth ministry. However, as she moved into adolescence, she drifted away from both ACJU and the youth group. For a number of years Maricela led what might be called a “rebellious lifestyle,” which was only made worse by the dysfunction within her family. Her parents were constantly arguing and her relationship with her brother, who had sexually abused her when she was 8 years old, was very strained.
After a number of psycho-emotional, spiritual counseling sessions, Maricela made the decision to come back to the Lord. Healing came with the decision to forgive her brother. With a lot encouragement, she started participating in “Jóvenes en Acción,” our new youth ministry initiative. As her confidence grew, she became part of the “Jóvenes en Acción” leadership. She is now actively involved in reaching out to other young people within the community and participating in the church. As she grows in leadership, she is also beginning to reach out to her family. At this point, she has been able to encourage her mother to accompany her to church as well.
Comunidades de Shalom, our church planting initiative, seeks to promote the growth of a holistic church planting movement which will evangelize and disciple new people into becoming agents of transformation in their families, communities and workplaces. In Chimalhuacán, the Comunidades de Shalom faith communities currently include 5 house churches and 2 Bible studies with a total of 95 participants.
The goal of Comunidades de Shalom is to nurture communities of believers which practically impact other individuals and their communities as they seek to bring God’s Shalom in their own neighborhoods. To that end, the project encourages house church members to participate in evangelism and social action through a variety of ministries. As a result of these efforts, Comunidades de Shalom has positively impacted the lives of its neighbors with a number of different ministries. In 2013, 40 children regularly participated in our “Ninos de Shalom” kids’ club. Our Food Bank regularly served 80 low-income families and our “Jóvenes en Acción” youth group had 10 regular participants.