Success Stories: Kids Like Us

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Kids Like Us?
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Success Stories: Brianna Polk

Happy on the outside, angry on the inside, that was me. Even though I was known as the happy and strong kid, behind my smiling face was pain and sorrow.

I started out in life pretty good. I had two parents and one older brother, but at a very early age I discovered my mom had a drinking problem. She would try to cover it up by saying, “It’s just juice” or “I’m only drinking a little.” But I knew there was more to it. She would sometimes share her 40oz. beer with me. I was only about 5-years-old at the time.

My mom’s drinking problem worsened. She regularly had seizures and one night she slumped over my shoulder with her eyes rolling back in her head. My dad called the doctor and took her to the emergency room.

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Success Stories: Alex Montero

When I was 13-years-old my friend, Michael, told me about Youth Venture. He went to the YV on Broadway in El Cajon and the After School Bible Club at Cajon Valley Middle School. I started going to Youth Venture with Michael whenever my mom would let me.

Eventually I started going through Youth Venture’s mentoring program. I learned about God and who Jesus was and that God had a plan for me! I had never heard anything like this before.

I never knew my dad. My mom – who is a cool lady – raised me. The only father I knew was my step-dad who was a drug addict. Eventually my mom left him so there was no father in my life. Suddeenly I was hearing that God knew me and cared about me and even had a plan especially for me – available through Jesus Christ. By the end of the third lesson when my Youth Venture mentor asked, “Do you want to invite Christ into your life?” I said, “Yes!”

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Success Stories: Thomas Fitzgerald

At the beginning of 7th grade my dad, a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died one month later. My mom wasn’t able to take care of us because she had serious health problems. My brother and I ended up moving in with a friend who I stayed with for the next 3 years. Fourteen people lived in the house and I would sleep on the floor in the living room or on a couch if I got lucky.

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Success Stories: Sharron Hunter

My parents got divorced when I was about one year old and I always lived with my mother. I grew up with a lot of bitterness towards my dad because of the way he treated my mom and our relationship was never very good. I was full of pain and resentment. When we moved to Lakeside several years ago, a neighborhood friend told me about Youth Venture and I began going regularly. I had a lot of fun there and met some good friends but my heart was still hard and I would not let any of the adults get close to me. I did not have much motivation in life and was failing in school. I was constantly fighting with my family at home and began to get involved in drinking, smoking, and stealing. Friends from school would pressure me into doing bad things and afterwards I would feel so guilty that I would drink alcohol to numb the pain. But that only made me feel emptier than before. Then everything began to change. I was invited to go to a Youth Venture retreat and it sounded like a lot of fun. But at that retreat I met with God in a powerful way. He showed me how real He was and how much He loved me and I gave my life to Him. When I came back from the retreat my heart was different. I started opening up more to my mentor, Kim Nabors, and all the other adult leaders, who have been so patient with me. I began to see life from a different perspective. Then I went to another retreat and God changed my life even more. He healed me of the hurt and pain that I had in my heart and freed me from sin [...]

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Message from Mark

What a wondrous year! Youth Venture has concluded its most effective year ever. At our centers we have done record numbers of mentoring lessons, we have distributed over 10,000 copies of our Kids like Us testimony books to area youth- over 4,500 through our on-campus Higher Ground Clubs. We have translated our mentoring lessons into Spanish, trained over a hundred Pastors and youth workers from across Cuba and have provided the lessons for them to use all over the island. We have also assisted in opening a youth center in Ensenada, Mexico, helped to outfit it with games, and supplied the mentoring materials. In Kenya, 10,000 youth are being reached through Youth Venture clubs in dozens of schools and four teen centers.

Message from the Director

 photo 3bcb41de-1026-4b54-abea-19429568949d_zps5d3dc2cb.jpgEveryday, I am reminded of the impact of Youth Venture in kids’ lives and how important the work we are doing truly is. As I hear kids’ stories, the hurt and pain they’ve experienced, and the healing and hope they found through the love of God at Youth Venture, I am reminded of how many people it takes to make all of this possible. I wonder how many hours served by volunteers, how many dollars donated, how many meals served, how many acts of love and selflessness, are reflected in each one of their testimonies. For many of these kids, it takes years to see the fruit of all the love that has been invested in their lives. And it is worth every bit. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing men and women who, in so many different ways, make this all possible. The testimonies of transformed lives go on and on, and continue to grow every day. And you are a part of it. It is impossible to measure the eternal impact that every little bit has but I am so grateful for each one of you that makes this all possible. We couldn’t do it without you.