Hope is Near

Posted on by Bonnie Rodriguez

We live in a city that glamorizes moments that are as empty as an overdrafted bank account. In the city of Miami, you can find an $18.2 million dollar condo merely blocks from a community in which the median household income is $10,000.  It’s a city in which the youth lack basic needs while living in the shadows of glamorous high rises, and gunfire is more frequent than thunderstorms.

In these challenging neighborhoods are teens who are incarcerated after surviving a life of poverty and constant trauma.  Once entering juvenile corrections programs, our youth are often penalized rather rehabilitated, and more often forgotten rather than being invested in.

We want that to be a different story.  Every month the Juvenile Justice Ministry builds relationships with hundreds of youth who are incarcerated. Many of the youth are caught in the purgatory of the Juvenile Detention Center and an environment that keeps them from succeeding, and we’ve been faithfully working inside the walls of the center with these young men and women for over 35 years. But when you develop a relationship with a youth who is murdered 3 weeks after his release or see a youth re-offend for the 8th time, you realize that something has to be done differently.

So we’re doing something different.  This summer, we are launching Project Dade, a community re-entry program that provides mentoring services to youth living in the Liberty City, Brownsville, Allapatah, Opa-Locka, Little Haiti, Hialeah and Little Havana neighborhoods. It is our belief that if youth have consistent affirming, positive engagement in their life from caring adults, the trajectory of their life will change. Our program aims to give these youth exposure to new ideas, disciplines and relationships that are life-giving as well as life-changing. And we pray they will meet the God who longs to change their lives.

As we undertake our new initiative this summer, I ask that you pray for our youth, staff and community. Pray for safety, for relationships between youth and mentors to flourish, and that youth are able to embark on a new path that is marked by change and hope. Hope is truly on the horizon in the inner city of Miami.

-Ronnie Lillard, JJM Co-Director

Share |