Throughout my life I have consistently been surrounded by bad influences, mostly due to gangs in my neighborhood. Every day on my way to school I would witness gang members bully kids that were not part of their gang, vandalize other people’s property and gang members selling drugs. I knew the day was coming where I would have to decide what gang I would join. I did not want to join a gang but I didn’t want to continue being a victim of their bullying. I also knew I would have to start doing drugs, doing drugs was ‘cool’ and part of the gang culture. If you were not a gang member or doing drugs you were beat up after school. It was normal and the way of life around here.
One day at school our teacher started passing out Mission Generation text books to my class, I didn’t really think much of it then but later realized this was the moment my life would change for the better. As the weeks went by I started to understand that I did not have to participate in a gang like my community led me to believe. I made up my mind right than I would not allow myself to be bullied or pressured into anything I didn’t want to do. The next time I ran into my bullies I decided instead of fighting them back or lying to them, telling them I would join their gang, I would find a way to show them love.
It was very difficult at first, every attempt I made to show them they were cared for ended up costing me several busted lips and black eyes but I was determined. One day one of the gang leaders pulled me aside and asked why I hadn’t joined their gang, specially after all the beating. I told him I could not live with myself if I choose to do drugs or hurt others because I had promised myself I wouldn’t. He was impressed with my loyalty to my own word and told his friends to back off beating me. They started to leave me alone and we are now friends even though I am not in their gang which is unheard of.
I have set a lot of goals and dreams for myself since receiving the Mission Generation textbook. It feels great to have a purpose and a destiny that makes me work hard every day towards achieving the things I want from life. If it wasn’t for MG I would be living a dangers life style that I would hate myself for. I am eternally grateful to have the opportunity to change my life around.
– Javier Mendez