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.”
September 18, 2018
"This summer at Inner City Impact was not what I expected at all, and I praise God for it!"
September 18, 2018
ICI was a refuge for Oscar as he grew up. ICI staff modeled healthy relationships and plugged him into a local church. Now he is investing back into the lives of those who grew up in similar challenging circumstances.
September 1, 2017
When you work or volunteer with ICI, you have to be ready to discuss just about any topic—you never know what the kids are going to ask! But what’s always true is that kids are really curious about spiritual things and will impress you with some deep and insightful questions and observations.