Thankfully, Juanita’s home life with her great-grandparents was steady, but she remembers the other relationships in her life as difficult and unhappy: “I never wanted to get married. I was very fearful of marriage. That fear took root in my heart as a very young girl because I saw very dysfunctional relationships.”
Juanita remembers the day that things began to change for her. Looking out the window of her grandparents’ home, she noticed what looked like a block party. People were having fun, hanging out, and playing games. She discovered it was a “Backyard Bible Club” run by ICI and she started attending the club regularly, getting to know some of the staff and eventually praying to invite Jesus into her heart. Juanita admits that through her teenage years she lost her way a little, but she never stopped attending ICI programs. Before high school was over, she had renewed her commitment to Christ and was excited about doing ministry herself.
An ICI leader encouraged Juanita to attend Moody Bible Institute for college and it was there that she met her future husband, Eric. “I had built a very strong relationship with one of the leaders in particular, and it was around that time that I went to her wedding. It was the first Christian wedding I’d ever been to and it was a very positive experience. That leader helped me to make wise and healthy decisions and that’s what allowed me to walk into my own healthy marriage.”
As of 2017, Juanita and Eric have been married eight years and they have three little boys, the oldest of whom is now attending ICI day camp. “Our marriage is a huge victory for us. We followed God’s divine order: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage! That wasn’t something we both saw growing up. But by His grace, we kept God at the center of our relationship. Together we believe we are breaking generational cycles…and setting new cycles of blessing in motion for the next generation.”
Today, both Juanita and Eric are very active in ministry. They both serve as elders at New Life Community Church where they lead the young adult ministry and serve in the marriage ministry. Juanita’s favorite job is raising her three little boys and she stresses the importance of teaching them God’s word early in life:
“I believe that because I was so young when I came to ICI, my heart was good soil. And the seeds that were planted then are producing fruit to this very day.”
December 1, 2017
Sophomore year is when the teaching at ICI really got to me and I gave my life to Christ and changed the path I was on.
December 30, 2019
Throughout my whole high school experience, I felt like I needed to change. After we got back from my last high school camping trip I was thinking about what the leaders had said. I decided to pray and give my life to Christ.
July 22, 2019
Before Christ, I had a lot of grudges and felt like everything had to be perfect. I tried to control a lot of things. Now I can leave things in God’s hands. When I am worried, I know I can trust God. I’m not angry anymore.