Acts 26:18–I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
As God continues to grow this ministry, He continues to grow our love for the teens in Cristo Rey. Over the past two years, we’ve seen the need for a teen program. In Cristo Rey, if you don’t attend church, you are looked down upon and are considered “bad kids”. And so, that is exactly what the unchurched considered themselves “bad”. Christ didn’t just fellowship with his chosen 12 or those who followed Him, no He went out and fellowshipped with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the people that everyone had given up on, the people that nobody wanted to “hang” around. Aren’t we to be His example? Aren’t we to be His hands, feet and mouth? Aren’t we to open the eyes of those who have been in darkness for so long?
So through #TeenLife, that is exactly what we do. We love the unloved. We love the “bad”. We love those who are hurting or have been hurt. We love those that church doesn’t except. We love those who have been abused. We simply love. Our group of teens come from all different avenues of life. We have teens who attend church every time the “door” is open. We have teens who are drug users and sellers. We have teen mom and dads. We have gay teens. We have a teen who was born a girl, but since her mom didn’t want a girl, she raised her as a boy. We have teens who have been physical and sexually abused. We have prostitutes. We have teens who work in the dump in order to eat and provide for themselves. We have teens who are lost, looking for something……
It saddens our hearts to have Cristo Rey pastors come to our Friday night event and ask us “Why we are letting certain kids into our program?” “Why would we waste our time on the “bad” kids, they are already too far gone.” “If we continue to let “bad” kids come, than they won’t allow their church teens to participate.” Or better yet, they are going to start their own Friday youth night because they don’t approve of what we are doing.
Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:
I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
they’re calling you “God’s living children.”
Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
and the sum labeled “chosen of God,”
They’d be numbers still, not names;
salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name.
Arithmetic is not his focus.
– Romans 9:22-28 (MSG)
Our Friday nights are a time of laughter, fun, games, testimonies, Biblical truths and movies. We teach the kids about respect, marriage, struggles, that everyone has a story and how are you going to use your story- for good or bad. As the teens learn to trust us, we show them more and more of the beautiful story that God has given to us. We show them that no matter what they have done in their lives that there is a God who loves them unconditionally, there is a God who is whispering their name, there is a God standing and waiting for them, there is a God who has a future for them and has great plans for them!