October 29, 2015
Today 18-year-old Ricky works collecting bus fares on local buses, earning money to support his mother and two younger sisters. However, six months ago, he was in a juvenile detention center doing time for selling cocaine. He is one of many youths in Tegucigalpa that attribute the changes in his life to the Association for a More Just Society’s (AJS) Impact Clubs run by the AJS-supported Gideon Project, saying “whenever I came to club they told me what I was doing was bad and that I needed to seek God. I asked God to get me out of drugs and he responded.”
Using a methodology developed in Romania, the club mentors meet with at-risk youth like Ricky every week. They tell a story that highlights a value, like respect or honesty, play teambuilding games, do a craft or other skill-building activity, and do service projects in the community. The club mentors show at-risk youth that they have other options besides life in the streets. More than 250 youths have responded to this message and are involved in the clubs.
On June 4 and 5 the Impact team hosted a camp for 136 of the Impact youth, which included a workshop on conflict resolution, team-building games, and of course, lots of time to play soccer.
One of the highlights of the camp was the visit of pastor Erwin Luna from Guatemala. Luna is a former gang member who shared his testimony of transformation with the youth, many, like Ricky, who are at high risk for becoming involved in gangs and drugs. After watching a documentary in which the work of Luna, who runs group homes for former gang members was featured, he told the young men and women “Life is not a joke. You need to take it seriously and live for Christ.”
Due to his recent experiences, Ricky took a special interest in what Luna had to say, and Luna noted that he and Ricky were able to share a conversation at the evening campfire about Ricky’s past and how he hopes to change in the future. Luna said, “I think he really took what I had to say to heart.”
Through weekly club meetings, and special events such as the recent camp, the AJS-supported Impact Clubs are having real success in empowering Honduran youth to transform their lives.