What do you do when you have no hope? How do you respond when you look to the future and there is nothing but poverty and isolation? For many children, they turn to people who offer a false hope.
Moyses was in third grade and his summers were filled with babysitting his two younger siblings. He lived in a rundown mobile home with nothing fun to occupy his time. The mobile home park was surround by busy highways that made it impossible for him to get out of the immediate neighborhood.
His false hope became a gang, a “new family,” that would pick him up and take him and his siblings to the movie. The cost of the movie was joining the gang, which he did when he became old enough, 9 years old. His initiation was to beat up another 3rd grader in the school bathroom.
It’s hard for most of us to imagine such a situation. It seems unbelievable that in suburban Minnesota gangs are an issue, but they are. It was this story and others like it that served as the impetus for Esperanza, which means “Hope” in Spanish. Since its beginning, Esperanza has fed over 35,000 meals, offered ESL, soccer, parenting classes, adult and youth education, and many other services to those in need in Scott County.
The program makes lasting impacts in the youth and the community. This picture is of Blanca, one of our initial students, who received a full-ride scholarship to the University of St Thomas. She graduated in April and is planning on investing back into her community to help others.
In the coming years, Esperanza is preparing to raise up a Spanish-speaking pastor and the ministry will become a church in the LCMS. Esperanza is helping to break the cycle of poverty and to offer hope for a better future on this earth and eternally.