On weekday afternoons, Luis*, age 10, attends Spark at a local Denver S.A.Y Yes! center. S.A.Y. (save our youth) Yes! is a biblically based after-school program run by churches in partnership with Cru-inner city. Curriculum for this program is designed to address challenges specific to life in the inner city.
Luis attends regularly, but was known for class clown antics, acting out and lacking desire to listen to adults. “Luis has always been the ‘tough egg to crack,’” says Dena Boyce, the director of children’s ministries at Restoration Outreach programs in Aurora, Colorado.
One particular evening was no different. Luis sat by himself, closed off from everyone else and visibly choosing not to participate in an exercise demonstrating God’s trust and love. The meeting ended with a group prayer after which Luis immediately got up off the couch and made a beeline for Dena.
Dena remembers Luis getting right to the point asking if he would quit being mean to his mom if he asked Jesus into his heart. “As we sat in my office Luis proceeded to ask question after question about how he could change his attitude and if accepting Jesus would change him,” says the outreach director. “I shared with him how a life with Christ was better than anything he could imagine, but it still had its fair share of struggles.” The look on Luis’s face told Dena the young man’s mind was working overtime.
As their conversation continued, Dena helped Luis understand the biblical results of sin and our need for forgiveness. His eyes widened as understanding grew. “Everything finally clicked,” remembers Dena. Luis stood, said, “Thanks,” and moved toward the door.
Before Dena had a chance to get up out of her chair, he turned around and asked what he had to do to receive forgiveness and have a relationship with Christ. Sitting back down, the pair continued their gospel lesson in beginning a relationship with Christ. Minutes later, Luis said a prayer asking Christ to be his Lord and Savior.
The next week Luis came running in with a huge smile on his face. He stayed engaged during the meeting and chose to participate. “You can already see the change that is happening in Luis’s life after just one week,” says Dena.