There are significant, even existential challenges for Tarahumaras living in the urban environment of Chihuahua City. As children grow up it is common to quit school to earn money or care for siblings, lose the Tarahumara language, lose oneself in alcohol or drugs, or to fall prey to the attitude of victimization through marginalization. The worldview that undergirds these responses is a collision of Tarahumara and mestizo cultures that oftentimes results in hopelessness.
As Tarahumara and mestizo children faithfully attend LightShine in Tarahumara colonias, some begin to understand that they have intrinsic value in the eyes of their Creator. Some even begin to have hope, to dream about a better future. These young adults need someone to come by their sides to love and care about their lives; to fan the flame that has already begun to shine. The Joshua Program is an invitation only leadership development program for these future leaders. We intensively disciple teens beginning at age 14; helping them to complete high school, receive a full college scholarship, and develop into servant leaders who are passionate for God and passionate to advance the Tarahumara nation.
The program is hard. More adolescents quit than graduate. They spend most Saturdays together in study, fellowship, preparing their own meal, and individual and small group discipleship. During the week they must complete individual study, meet in peer groups to pray, and maintain high ethical standards. They must stay in school, and it is not uncommon for us to provide tutors to help in this area. Multiple times each year they leave their homes to travel as a group and serve others. If they complete the program through high school then we help them to discover their giftings, and we provide a complete college scholarship to pursue their passion! After graduation they are required to serve the Tarahumara nation in LightShine with a fair salary for two years.
What began in 2016 with just a handful of teens has now become absolutely indispensable in the Tarahumara colonias that LightShine works in! A high-school drop-out has transformed into a Bible-college educated house-church leader and assistant LightShine Director of Colonia Soledad! A young man who was terrified to leave his family graduated from Bible college in Peru and is now the Director of LightShine in Colonia Tarahumara! A Tarahumara girl who was cutting herself to express her pain has transformed into a worship leader and LightShine teacher who’s now sharing the hope with Tarahumara children that she’s found personally! This academic year we look forward to sending young adults to college for Communications, Teaching, Law, and two young adults to Bible college! We currently have 17 students and 5 leaders participating in the Joshua Program!
These young adults are discovering their identity in Christ and rediscovering their proud identity as Tarahumaras. They’ve discovered hope, and are running with that hope to their own people!