John and Sheryl have always wanted to make an impact on the lives of inner city kids.
They started working with “at-risk kids” while they were dating. For one year, they “adopted” a teen in Seattle’s juvenile detention facility.
“Working with Brenda was quite an eye opening experience.”
In 1980, after college, and after working in the business world for a few years, they responded to God’s call to become missionaries.
“We loved our time in Honduras. We thought we would spend the rest of our life working with this wonderful, gracious and friendly people.” They spent three years in Central America learning the language and culture before God moved in their hearts and they transferred to East Los Angeles.
The mission had been given an old church building in the inner city. Their task was to develop a ministry, apart from Church, that would reach people in the Community of Boyle Heights.
“We designed and developed Life Is Full Of Choices as an after school program centered on empowering “at risk kids” in East Los Angeles. Keeping kids in school, off the street and out of the gangs was our goal. We did this by using tutoring, recreation, Bible Club, mentoring and outings as tools to train the kids to identify the choices they were making and the consequences that would result from those choices.”
“For many years we had more than 1,000 different kids in the Center, but our energy was always focused on mentoring a smaller core group of kids.”
“God has given us a heart for the people of East Los Angeles. This Hispanic neighborhood is now where we choose to live. The language and customs remind us of our years in Central America.”
Working with inner city kids for 30 plus years has given them a unique understanding of what these kids are facing at home, in school and on the streets.
For many years John and Sheryl have chosen to use their experience and knowledge to minister to inner city kids and their families. Now, they are choosing to share the wisdom they have accumulated over the years with adults, who, like them, have a heart for working with kids.
“While working in East Los Angeles we saw great changes in some of the kids with whom we were working. But no matter what we could accomplish we were still only working with one group of kids on one corner. We saw the necessity of training adults who then could work with kids on many corners in many cities.”
John and Sheryl are currently empowering twenty-one inner city churches in the Los Angeles area as well as Churches in Northern California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Bismarck, North Dakota. In 2011 they traveled to Guyana, South America to teach these principles to Missionary Staff and Church leadership and this year (2013) we will be traveling to China. They are working with these Churches to design and develop specific after school programs to reach the “at risk kids” in their communities.
“As we have trained adults to work with kids we have heard from those people that Life Is Full Of Choices would be helpful in their own lives and as they interact with other adults.”
Life Is Full Of Choices had evolved into a tool for all ages to use in order to utilize power, responsibility and freedom