We’ve strategically developed ministries and partnered with ministries to meet the wide spectrum of challenges facing the Tarahumara nation. This ecosystem of solutions includes addiction recovery, Christian foster-care, indigenous leadership development, and higher education. Shortly after beginning LightShine in 2009 it became apparent that the challenges facing the Tarahumara go well beyond what could be met in the core LightShine children’s program. Many children experience 3 hours of Christ’s love in LightShine, but then go home to incredible spiritual darkness.
When LightShine began, there were no good options for children in Chihuahua who were suffering extreme abuse. At that time, if a child was removed from their home by the government because of physical or sexual abuse the only option was for them to go to institutions. Unfortunately, abuse between children and teens in many of those institutions is common, such that the kids can end up in a worse situation than in their home. After years of prayer and research, God strongly led us to develop Christian foster-care for the state of Chihuahua. After more years of working to change state laws and then formally partnering with the state government, we are now seeing children in crisis from all backgrounds (not just Tarahumara) experiencing the love of Christ through mature Christian foster care parents. By 2016, God answered our prayers for how to best help abused Tarahumara kids in a way that was bigger than any of us could have ever imagined.
Many of the children in LightShine are abused when the people living in their house are drunk or high. The alcoholism and drug addiction rates within the Tarahumara nation are very high, it is an epidemic that has ensnared most adults and many teens. After much prayer and research, we became convinced that UTurn for Christ, one the leading Christian addiction recovery programs across the world, was the right answer for Chihuahua. After years of pursuing U-Turn and developing a coalition of local churches that could provide the necessary foundation, U-Turn for Christ Chihuahua officially began in January 2019! LightShine provides a complete scholarship to U-Turn for phase 1 (approximately 2 months) for any person living in the house of a child that attends LightShine.
We have also directly developed an intervention program for Tarahumara teenage drug addicts, many of whom were formerly enrolled in LightShine. This program is Bajoní ’a Nawá, the Tarahumara phrase for Bridge of Life. The addicts are treated with love and respect, they’re fed, and they’re taught the Word of God. We’ve seen fruit directly in the program, and it also serves an important role as a sensitization and draw for U-Turn. Currently, this program exists in only one of the four Tarahumara colonias that we work in, but we’re praying that God will provide the finances and human resources necessary to expand the program.
We’ve also seen many children in LightShine show leadership capabilities, and either give their lives to Christ or demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s leading in that direction. At age 14 they are eligible to be invited to enroll in the Joshua Program. In the Joshua Program they are intensively mentored, inductively study the Bible, have many shared experiences and service opportunities, form peer prayer groups, and go on multiple mission trips each year. to be mentored and held accountable. After completion of their higher education they are required to come back and serve the Tarahumara in LightShine at a fair market rate of pay. At the time of writing, we’re so blessed to have one young lady working towards her teaching degree, and three graduates all of whom chose to go to Bible college. They are currently leading in LightShine as a teacher, a director, and a house church pastor!