The Cost of Integrity

by | Jul 23, 2013 | Partner Blog

I serve kids in Lincoln Heights – one of the oldest and most distinct Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Some of the struggles common to the urban communities I serve include: poverty, single parent homes, gang violence, high crime rate, broken families and poor quality education due to budget cuts and overcrowding in schools. Most of the families that I serve live under an income of $11,000 a year. Most of these kids lack positive role models and mentors and as such tend to be each other’s role models which results to the destructive cycle of at-risk behaviors like violence, gangs and drugs.

I have gained a wealth of experience from all the sessions that I have attended in the 90 Degrees Certification Program. Every speaker and trainer that UYWI brought in was an expert in their field, faithful in their calling and brought with them years of wisdom that have hugely transformed how I do ministry today. Every training session was progressive and I always walked away inspired and challenged to live it out in my life and ministry.

Serving kids in the city can become extremely difficult and draining because one sees so much darkness and pain. One can easily get to a place of burn out and eventually giving up because there is no one to encourage you, refresh you or pour into you. The 90 Degrees Certification program has given me the tools to live a more effective prayer life, develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus and have a long and fruitful ministry.

As a bi-vocational youth leader, my goal in the next 3 years is to get into full-time youth ministry. I plan to start a Bible Club in my local high school, develop strong relationships with the kids and disciple them to be followers of Christ. This will require that I am well equipped with effective fundraising skills so that I can fully support myself and at the same time be a full time minister to the kids in my community. The 90 Degrees Certification Program has been extremely helpful in equipping me with practical skills in fundraising.

Mentoring Youth in Difficult Times
Craig is a teenager in our football team at my local high school. I invited Craig to our weekly Bible Study and as he kept attending, we shared Christ with him. Craig shared how he struggled in his relationship with his mother and how that was affecting his entire life. Craig’s mother is an immigrant who does not have the legal documents to work in the U.S and as such she turned to selling drugs as her only way of making a living.

We began to disciple Craig and with time he became an excellent student in both football and education and ended up getting a football scholarship to a local university. In his desire to live a life of integrity, when filling out the scholarship application, when asked what his mother did for a living, he told the truth, that she sold drugs. As a result of his decision to stand for the truth, Craig lost his football scholarship. This was a heartbreaking moment for him, but we stood by him and supported him through his difficult times. Serving at-risk kids can be extremely challenging, but we are committed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ in every situation.

Christian Hernandez,  Youth Ministry Leader
Epicentre Community Church- Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles, CA


  1. David Munoz

    Dear Christian,

    My name is David Munoz. I grew up in El Sereno, CA but I went to Our Lady Help of Christians Grammar School in Lincoln Heights. and I went to Cathedral High School when I graduated.

    Kids growing up in Lincoln Heights and cities like El Sereno are definitely at risk. I’m 62 years old now and there were gang problems then and there will, in all probability, always be gang problems.
    The problems are many, and the solutions are complex to say the least. I’m gratified to see that you are a Christian Organization because God has all the answers because he is the answer. Keep fighting the good fight Christian, May God bless you with wisdom and surround you with his love, mercy and grace. David

    • Cynthia Chege

      Thank you for your response David. We have a vision to equip and train urban youth leaders for maximum impact in Gospel-centered, life transforming ministry to youth in urban “at-risk” zip codes like Lincoln Heights.


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