Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.
At just 13 years old, Jesús (a very common name in Latin America) is living in a very difficult environment. Growing up in Ecuador, in an area of extreme poverty, he has to deal with drug dealers and gang members who are actively recruiting young people every day. He has an absent father and a mentally ill mother in a toxic relationship with her alcoholic boyfriend.
Jesús has been attending a Taekwondo program run by Youth for Christ at a local church. The instructor and staff there serve and love him and are modeling the character of Jesus Christ. He is learning about the God who loves him and will never abandon him.
One day, after realizing that living with his unstable mother was no longer a safe option, and not wanting to end up living on the streets, Jesús packed his bag, left behind this home that only represented hurt and abandonment to him and showed up at the church where the Youth for Christ Taekwondo classes are held. He asked for help.
Here, Jesús had experienced a different kind of environment and he decided that this place and these people were his best chance for help and a future. “Taekwondo is all I have to prosper and move forward in life,” he said.
Gathering together other professionals to help with the legal and psychological issues, Youth for Christ is helping Jesús reimagine what his future can be.
“We are compelled by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:34-45,” said Mayra Cano, Youth for Christ Americas Area Director. “Verse 40 says: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.’”
“Many of the kids we work with are just like Jesús, some in even worse circumstances,” said Mayra. “Our programs give us the opportunity to feed them, clothe them, and look after them to the best of our ability. Most importantly we get to introduce them to our Lord Jesus through our actions and our example. We are grateful for the work God allows us to do. We work hard to continually be more effective in communicating the needs that we work with every day, trying to find a way to invite more brothers and sisters into the trenches and show them the power that our collective faith has when we act just as Jesus did. It’s Jesus’ attentive presence in and through us that will make the difference!”
Youth for Christ is actively reaching young people in over 100 nations. Ecuador is one of 25 nations in the Americas Area with Youth for Christ outreach.