Houston Teens Keep Woman Going Back

Native El Salvadoran helps inner-city students represent Jesus to peers

By Chris Lawrence   |  19 . January . 2009
houston-el-salvador-student-venture-465x280.jpg "A lot of the kids aren't thinking about college, they are thinking about surviving," Yaneth (in denim jacket) says. Photo Courtesy of Yaneth Diaz

When Yaneth Diaz enters Sam Houston High School, she braces for trouble.

At this notorious inner-city school in Houston, fights are common, as well as drug use and drop outs. Yaneth recently walked a ninth-grade girl having pregnancy contractions to the school nurse.

Yet, this is the environment where Yaneth does ministry with Student Venture, the high-school outreach of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Past Experiences Relate to Teens' Situations

"I've never been scared to go on campus," Yaneth says. "It's not because I'm tough or anything; it's because I really want to serve and to see lives change."

Yaneth says she can relate to many of the students. Growing up in a family that immigrated to Houston from El Salvador, she was the first one in her family to graduate from college.

Yet in high school, Yaneth attended a school similar to Sam Houston.

"A lot of the kids aren't thinking about college, they are thinking about surviving," she says. "I know Christ can change them and take them out of a sinful lifestyle."

Positive Effects of Faithful Mentoring

At 5 feet tall, sometimes Yaneth, 29, is mistaken for a student, yet she has mentored countless young women since 2001, including Lori Guerra. Through Yaneth's coaching, Lori communicated her testimony to her dance team last spring and 12 women indicated decisions to follow Christ.

She also helped a girl named Perla Hernandez to follow Christ; Perla is now attending college. Besides mentoring, Yaneth also coaches several teachers on how to start a ministry.

"Yaneth is really good at what she does," says Barry Bowling, the director of Student Venture in Houston. "She is very winsome and likable, and kids just seem to connect with her."

Yaneth continues to serve in multiple roles, including at Sam Houston, a school where God is using her courage to influence many students for Christ.