For almost 80 years Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) has served as a beacon of light in communities across the country, partnering with local churches to share with young people the hope and healing found in Jesus. Often this work takes place in underserved, overlooked communities. Northern New Mexico is one such area where many teens are often struggling just to exist.
Danielle Trujillo, Ministry Site Director for YFC Northern New Mexico, said, “Many of the students in this area are dealing with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.”
The statistics paint a sobering picture as New Mexico has the fifth highest youth suicide rate in the country — double the national average.
Trujillo shared, “We also see young people who are coming from broken families. We have a number of students who have lost their parents to drugs or alcohol and are being raised by a grandparent or relative.”
Meeting Student Needs
YFC Northern New Mexico strives to meet these students’ need for a mentor, walking into schools and forging relationships with hurting young people.
Trujillo said, “Our team regularly visits schools and spends time with fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders. We just want to come alongside them and mentor them through whatever difficult circumstances they’re experiencing.”
Craig Langwell, Executive Director of YFC Northern New Mexico, noted, “I’ve talked with many school officials, and the overwhelming feedback is that, 20 years after administrations began pushing faith-based organizations out of schools, we’re now seeing the negative impact of that decision. Teachers are actually asking us for help. And now they’re allowing us to come in and pray before school starts.”
Oftentimes leaders have the opportunity to spread their influence from a student to entire families.
Trujillo recalled, “I have a sixth-grade student who began to ask questions about God, and it sparked something in her. We got to lead her to Christ. She then started a Bible study at the school, which was really exciting. But on a personal level, this student has heart issues and recently had surgery. And during her recovery we were able to minister to her family as well. And out of that time we’ve built relationships with her mother, siblings and grandparents, which enabled us to minister to multiple generations.”
It’s just one such success story, but, ultimately, story is what it’s all about.
Langwell said, “Jesus shared the Gospel through story, so we share and listen to stories—to every story. Our calling is to partner with God and people by stepping into a young person’s life at pivotal moments, and to build lasting relationships in which God can work. We believe every young person should have the opportunity to uncover God’s story of hope in their lives, realized through meaningful discipling relationships grounded in biblical community.”