Wendy Andrea Calderón, a Colombian-American, is an exceptional and well respected leader in the metropolitan New York Christian community. She accepted the Lord during her freshman year at Brown University and entered full-time youth ministry upon graduation. Wendy is an ordained minister and serves as the Executive Director of Urban Youth Alliance. Urban Youth Alliance oversees Seekers Christian Fellowships, the oldest and largest indigenous urban campus ministry in the USA. Started in 1970 by Dr. Benjamín Alicéa, then a New York University student, Seekers has always served as a tool for the urban church to motivate and train their youth. Currently Seekers is active on forty-four high school and college campuses in New York and New Jersey. The 1,600 students of Seekers represent over thirty ethnicities and four hundred local churches. In 1990, Seekers began Jesus Day as a vehicle to mobilize students to evangelize their classmates. Jesus Day is a month-long event, ending with a day of simultaneous, on-campus, student-led evangelism. On Jesus Day students wear matching Jesus Day T-shirts, distribute Jesus Day tracts and Books of Hope (a compilation of the four gospels geared to youth). They also invite their classmates to on-campus Jesus Day events where they share the message of salvation through Christ. This year students in New York are raising funds to put Jesus Day posters on New York City trains! Jesus Day is an exceptional tool to help the urban church mobilize their youth. It has been developed by urban youth, and all the Jesus Day tools are geared to reach a city. (This year’s tract was written by a Hispanic student from a Spanish South Bronx church!) Over 1,000 students participated in Jesus Day last year. They distributed 10,000 tracts and 3,000 Books of Hope. If this can fly in New York City, it can fly anywhere! This year’s Jesus Day will be held on May 7th, the National Day of Prayer. If you are interested in starting Jesus Day in your area, call toll free 1-888-Jesus Day.
SONNY ARGUINZONI, JR.
Sonny Arguinzoni, Jr. is the International Youth Leader of G.A.N.G. (God’s. Anointed. Now. Generation.) the youth ministry of Victory Outreach International. His life verse is Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” and his passion is to lead today’s young people into a genuine experience with a living Savior. Sonny says, “I count it a privilege to have been raised by a father who has patterned his life after Christ and has never deviated from his calling to reach the hurting people of the inner cities of the world.” The youth G.A.N.G. which began in the La Puente, CA local church has grown to an international youth G.A.N.G. with thousands of members. G.A.N.G. has regional crusades, regional retreats and an annual Victory Outreach International Youth Conference. This year the International Youth Conference will be held at V.O.’s world headquarters in La Puente, CA July 22-25 and they are expecting over 4000 young people from various inner-cities. Recently the Victory Outreach Youth Training Center has been opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This will serve as a base to raise an army of young people to evangelize the inner cities of the world. All this and “G.A.N.G. Life,” a weekly television program which airs in different parts of the country and you have a youth ministry which produces city takers and world changers. If you would like more information on the Victory Outreach Youth G.A.N.G., please write to Sonny at: G.A.N.G. Life P.O. Box 1000 San Dimas, CA 91773.
“Richard, if you will lay down your own agendas and SERVE the public school districts in your area, I will tear down the walls that have been built between the schools and churches in this city and build a bridge. Then I will bring the kids over the bridge and into my Kingdom.” These were the instructions I received from the Lord in 1990 as I began to ask the Lord how to “PENETRATE” the public schools with the Gospel. I had just moved to the Houston area from Los Angeles, California where I had worked as an advisor for the Harbor Area Gang Alternative Program. There was an emerging gang problem in the Houston area, especially among our Hispanic communities and my desire was to penetrate the gang culture with the message of Faith, Hope and Love. As we began to make ourselves available to serve the public schools, the Lord gave us His favor with them and eight years later, He has been faithful to fulfill His Word to us. We do “gang intervention” work in the school districts and facilitate small group meetings with “at-risk” gang members on campus. I also do Gang Awareness Staff Training presentations for various school districts in our area. While all this is important, my main focus of ministry in the school deals with prevention. Through grade level meetings and assemblies we speak to hundreds of kids about the realities of the “gang lifestyle.” My latest endeavor is to teach “The Making of a Hero” curriculum to elementary and middle school kids in the public schools. I am currently teaching this material to two groups in two different schools. This curriculum challenges kids in high gang areas to reject the gang mentality and become a H.E.R.O. (Helpful, Educated, Responsible, Original). Together with other church-led ministries in the area, we are making an impact on our community. Minds are being renewed and lives are being transformed through Faith, Hope, and Love.
Richard Hinojosa is the youth pastor at The Encourager Church in Houston, Texas. He has had eleven years of experience working with young people. He currently serves on the Spring Branch Hispanic Advisory Board, the Advisory on Committee for “Somebody Cares Houston,” and is on the Board of Directors for the “New Breed Youth Network.” Additionally, he acts as a consultant in the area of Youth/Gang Violence to the Spring Branch Independent School District and the CyFair Independent School District. He and his wife currently reside in Houston with their three children.