Church Planting #2 – Mentoring Latino Young Men

In the few months that I’ve started planting (the time I’m setting aside from this is focused on building relationships), I’ve tried to stay focused on listening to what some of the needs are in the community. One main theme I continue to hear is mentoring young male latinos (middle school, high school).

I met with an executive director, principal, program director (boys and girls club), and a few people of peace from the city. Each one shared a need to reach young male latinos.

One executive director asked me point blank: “where are the male latino leaders in Oceanside? Who is pushing back and speaking out for latinos to succeed?” I felt chills go down my spine.

I’m not sure where they are. If they’re not outspoken or visible, my hope is that we’re busy taking care of our families, going to school, and working hard.

I have been praying and asking God to help me figure out how this startup church plant can get involved, how I can serve and help be a mentor to young latinos.

I’ve been invited to participate in a leadership forum to discuss best practices and opportunities to mentor. I was not expecting this when I said yes to planting. But this part of listening to the pain and needs of a city.

Latino Redimido

“[A white theologian] claimed that we needed to reject the words [Christian and Evangelical] and the baggage that comes with those words. A Native American theologian responded that doing away with those words would prove to be convenient for the majority culture. Not only would the words be wiped away, but the responsibility for the negative history of those communities could also be wiped away. Sin would be be accounted for.” p.125

Soon-Chan Rah, Prophetic Lament

As a Latino who experienced poverty and fatherlessness but who is now educated and has some privilege, I’m struck by the feeling that I’m still a stranger at some tables. I fear that I’m still seen as the “token” minority in the circle. I fear that because I look different and might not sound as eloquent that I may not have a place at the table. I fear that my voice isn’t as important.

I refuse to be a victim of these fears and possible realities. But I also refuse to deny these possible realities.

I have been ashamed to Mexican-American for many years. I wonder why there aren’t more educated Latino pastors in my circles/settings. I wonder why I don’t have more latino pastor mentors. I wonder why I’m constantly make up the 1 or 2 latinos at the table, and still feeling like I’m just the token vato.

But I refuse to be a victim of these fears and realities. And I refuse to be bitter/resentful/angry towards those who might perpetuate the stereotypes. The Lord’s table and the Gospel of Grace makes room for us to sit at the table, share our personal and corporate stories, and ask God to continue redeeming our stories in His grand salvation work.