Ministry is partnering with entire school districts

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January 22, 2020 By Jessa McClure

A lonely 19-year-old walks into a crowded room, hoping to be unnoticed. She has come to a Campus Life meeting to find the hope she is so desperately seeking. As she chooses a spot towards the back like she has for several weeks, one of the Youth for Christ leaders seeks her out and asks if she would be interested in being mentored. 

Claire Richey was looking for a place to belong when she attended a Youth For Christ (YFC) Campus Life meeting at her former high school. 

“When they found me at YFC I was kind of like a lost little puppy,” Claire says. “I realized that it was something I wanted to be a part of. It was something I needed in my life.” 

Gilbert Hernandez is CEO for the San Antonio YFC.
Gilbert Hernandez is CEO
for the San Antonio YFC.

The San Antonio chapter of the national YFC organization is one of the biggest in the country. It is currently serving more than 8,000 students who are looking for hope and a place to belong. 

The local chapter began as a prayer meeting made up of a handful of concerned moms and has grown to become an organization breaking down barriers and helping to bring the truth of Jesus to middle high school students across our city.

“We have built official partnerships over time with Northside ISD, Alamo Heights ISD, San Antonio ISD, as well as the juvenile detention centers here in town,” says YFC San Antonio CEO, Gilbert Hernandez. “In conjunction with them, we receive referrals for children who might need mentorship, and then we work with the local schools to create mentoring relationships.” 

A Campus Life small group enjoys time together at the Pat Neff Middle School.
A Campus Life small group enjoys time together
at the Pat Neff Middle School. 

Each mentor must complete a six-hour training, as well as a background check in order to begin a mentoring relationship. The mentor and the student must commit to a year of mentoring, giving complete closure. While it might seem strange to put a time limit on a mentorship, Gilbert said there’s a reason behind this protocol. 

“We want to give a proper ending,” he says. “There are so many kids who get left in the air. My dad left me, my mom left me, my grandma left me. We want to make sure that we put clear parameters. We want to give kids closure in this relationship because in so many areas of their lives they don’t have it.” 

While many students move on to college or the workforce after Youth for Christ, the lessons learned and the relationships formed last a lifetime. In fact, many come back and become mentors themselves. College-aged students who have been through the mentorship program are given the opportunity to go through the Leader in Training (LIT) program where they become equipped with the knowledge and confidence to evangelize to the next generation. 

Three years ago, the LIT program only had four students, and today there are 37 college-aged leaders who commit 10 to 15 hours of their time each week to serve the community.

“During the program we focus on three things: grow, belong and serve,” he says. “We educate them on the basics of evangelism, the Bible and relationships. We have them meet in  small groups, so they feel a sense of community, and they also go out and mentor like they were mentored.” 

We are just passionate for young people at Mr. W Fireworks. I cannot think of a better ministry than SAYFC when it comes to leading our youth to Christ and mentoring them to become the leaders of tomorrow. I have personally been involved in this ministry for many years and seen the fruit of their efforts firsthand. Please join us in supporting this important ministry in our city.” 
Dianna Wildman
, Treasurer Mr. W Fireworks


YFC Leaders in Training gather at the YFC main office in the spring of 2018.
YFC Leaders in Training gather at the YFC main office in the spring of 2018.

Gilbert says this process is not only meant to create staff members, but also to empower the next generation to be missionaries in their own backyards. 

Alyssa Mares, who is currently in the LIT program said that the organization is giving her more than a deeper relationship with Christ. 

“Being a part of Youth for Christ was the first time in my life that I felt heard by someone and felt loved and cared for,” she says. All important to teens growing up.

The college student now spends her time mentoring middle school girls and giving them the same sense of community that she was seeking at their age. 

“I was not a Christ-follower before coming to YFC,” she says. “They were constantly there for me, encouraging me and telling me I could do better.” 

The San Antonio chapter has engaged with the community unwaveringly to reach at-risk youth in the surrounding areas, but Gilbert wants the organization to do even more. 

Audrey Dominguez, Leader In Training Co-director and Campus Life alumni, stands with two campus life students. They were at the Mr. W Fireworks Superstore, providing volunteer work in the winter of 2018.
Audrey Dominguez, Leader In Training Co-director
and Campus Life alumni, stands with two campus
life students. They were at the Mr. W Fireworks
Superstore, providing volunteer work in the
winter of 2018.

“Every school in these districts is open to us and we’re only in 18 of them,” he says. “We’d love to come to a church and say, 'if you want to reach your schools and mentor kids in the public school system, we’ll give it away to you. We’ll set up the whole system, train you, develop you and pay for all of the background checks.'" 

The CEO wants to get as many loving, Christian adults serving in public schools as possible. How do you possibly pass up an offer like that?

“We’re looking for people to come alongside staff and advocate for them, build some financial support, and care for the staff,” Gilbert says. “It doesn’t take big actions to make big change. It takes small, consistent actions. You can move mountains with that.” Take a small step today by partnering with San Antonio YFC and change a teenager forever. Just ask Claire and the thousands of others who have been impacted by this amazing ministry.

Mr. W Fireworks belongs to God. That being said, we feel we have a responsibility to support nonprofit ministries like SAYFC. They are true difference-makers in our community. It is our honor to partner with them in changing the lives of our youth. Their efforts in our school systems is truly amazing. Learn more about them, then partner with them.
Kelley Martinez, Vice-President Mr. W Fireworks  Kelley Martinez, Vice-President Mr. W Fireworks

Please visit the Mr. W Fireworks indoor store at 26710 IH 10 West in Boerne. San Antonio YFC staff are working at this location and your purchase supports their efforts.

San Antonio Youth for Christ

San Antonio Youth For Christ
5730 Kenwick Street, San Antonio, TX 78238
(210) 697-7052


Be A Light.

Give. San Antonio Youth for Christ invites you to consider giving a year-end gift. Your gift will be matched up to $20,000. You can donate on the website or call the organization’s main office number. Volunteer. Help facilitate weekly club meetings, provide childcare for the teen parent program or assist in the administrative offices. Pray. Battle in prayer; there is more spiritual warfare in schools than ever before. 

Sponsored by Mr W Fireworks

Mr. W Fireworks
(210) 622-3112

Mr. W Fireworks is celebrating over 50 years with a bang in delivering family memories. Their corporate offices are located just outside San Antonio in Somerset, Texas and they have over 400 locations in San Antonio and across two states. Mr. W Fireworks remains a family operated business with the third generation being active in their operations and customer satisfaction. Because of their heart for our community, we encourage you to visit Mr. W for your needs and join them in making a bang in our community. 

Written by

Jessa McClure


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