David, SP staff in Lincoln Heights, California, shares how the family of God supported two young sisters on a difficult journey to deeper faith and academic excellence.
Naomi and Mary have struggled through much uncertainty as undocumented youth growing up in underserved communities. Yet God has never forgotten them, for His heart is with the fatherless and the foreigners. These twin sisters are the only two members from their generation of the youth group who were able to enter straight to a four-year university. Their single mother works tirelessly and has always been on them about their education. Their two older sisters have also modeled perseverance, and one of these older sisters brought them to NewLife, our church in Lincoln Heights, when they were just seventh graders.
It’s also true that it takes a village to raise a child, and God has worked through our church community to raise these twins. Our youth leadership team invested in Naomi and Mary and drew them deeper into Jesus’ dreams for them. God has brought awesome college-graduate Latinas to our church who have offered the twins academic counseling and mentorship. One of these mentors helped organize church members to send them off with a significant “care package” of college supplies—something their own family couldn’t afford—as well as a going-away party where everyone affirmed them and prayed for them.
The other day, I rejoiced at receiving this text message from Naomi:
I've only been on my college campus for about three weeks and I'm already feeling overwhelmed and continuously happy at the same time. I've met so many incredible people and I'm made so many friends who love God as much as I do, which I thought was going to be hard to do. I have had many conversations about my faith and have further realized how much I want to follow God and how it's a real life decision I'm making as an adult. I've had some trouble adjusting to the late nights and constant people around me, but I'm doing great! I hope to continue to feel happy and get to know more about me and God and how I fit into this campus and community!
We know the next challenge still lies ahead of them, as so many urban students struggle to complete college where they are required to acculturate and compete with mostly middle- and upper-class resourced students. Even deeper than that, Naomi and Mary are far away from their blood and spiritual families that have raised them. We have been praying for them and know that to love them means to love them for the long haul! At the same time, we have been reminded what a generous and good Father we have that hears our cries.