Tag: stephanie ybarra

What Are You Doing For Lunch?

For years I believed mentoring meant you basically had to adopt a kid, take him on vacation and pay for his college tuition one day.

But I found out this past year that being a mentor through STARS Book Clubs was almost too easy.

I could be a mentor and make a legitimate impact on the life of a kid (actually three kids) in a mere 30 minutes a week. All I had to do was go to their school during lunch, meet the kids in the library, ask them how their week was, read a book together and tell them they were awesome. That’s it. 30 minutes, once a week.

And the boys I was mentoring have actually shown some remarkable improvement in their reading ability. After only a few months of being a part of the Book Club, they had improved an average of over one grade level. Imagine the impact of hundreds of kids having book club leaders spend 30 minutes a week with them. The results would be incredible.

We already have 80 mentors meeting with more than 200 students -but we need more mentors! The qualifications for being a mentor come down to this: “Can you read?” and “Do you have 30 minutes a week?”

Be a part of an incredible thing happening in our church and at Provident Heights Elementary School during lunch times. Sign up to be a STARS mentor today!

By Josh Lawson, Director of Community Engagement

Giving Back to the Community

We are so excited to have been able to provide backpacks and school supplies for every student at Provident Heights Elementary School!

Antioch is located in one of the poorest zip codes in Texas. Many kids in our neighborhood are struggling in school, which can be a barrier to getting out of generational poverty. One way Antioch is addressing this challenge is by supporting Waco Independent School District in practical ways. We want the administration, parents and students to know we’re behind them. Providing the more than 450 students with backpacks and school supplies was one of the most practical things we could do to help. Our hope is that students will know someone cares for and believes in them and that it will help the school year get off to a great start.

We also support WISD through the STARS Mentoring Project, which provides mentoring for local, at-risk third through fifth graders at Provident Heights and Waco Charter School. Antioch is a part of a larger, community-wide initiative with other churches to mobilize 1,000 mentors for students in the Waco Independent School District. Apply today to be a mentor!

Thank you to all of our volunteers who spent the day packing and delivering backpacks!

Simple Words

As a child, I grew up Catholic and would go to mass every Sunday with my family. I would hear a Gospel reading and two readings from the epistles (Paul’s letters to the churches). The stories I heard about Jesus fascinated me. I was always so intrigued by Him and the way he interacted with people and the miracles he did.

I remember as a little girl asking my mom, “Does Jesus still heal people the way He did in the Bible story?” She looked at me and said, “Yes, He still does that.” I think part of her just wanted to answer my questions so I wouldn’t ask as many, but I believed her. As I heard more stories of His miraculous power, the questioning ensued. “Does Jesus still ____ (fill the blank)? “ And always the same reply, “Yes, Jesus still does those things.” So I believed.

Around that time I heard my uncle got in a car accident. I didn’t know how bad it was, but over the coming weeks I could see the stress it was putting on my family. One day I walked in to my parents speaking in hushed tones. I asked my mom what was wrong, and she told me to pray for my aunt because she had some really hard decisions to make. My mom told me my uncle was on life-support, which she explained was keeping him alive. She told me he was in a coma, and they don’t know when or if he would ever recover.

I remember going into my room and thinking, “My mom said Jesus still heals, so maybe if I ask Him, he’ll heal my uncle.” The least I could do was ask. So I went into my room and started praying the way I was taught. All of the sudden I began crying, overwhelmed with the magnitude of what my family and aunt was facing. My prayers began to sound something like, “Jesus, my mom told me that you can still heal people. Since you still heal people, I was wondering if you could heal my uncle. I know you can do it because I heard the story of you doing something like it at church.”

And that’s when it happened… my little heart heard God for the first time. This indescribable peace enveloped me and I sensed God saying, “He’s going to be okay.” That’s when I opened my eyes and thought, “Whoa, I knew we could talk to you, but I never knew you could talk back.” I began to understand that Jesus wanted a relationship with me. He wasn’t some far-off, distant God I had to appease, but He wanted to talk to me, help me and be involved in my life. I was blown away by this! No one had ever told me this. I spent a good portion of the day outside talking to Him under a tree, thinking about God and all the stories I had heard about Him.

The next day my uncle was out of the coma and off every machine. That sparked a journey in my heart to find someone who really  knew this Jesus who spoke to me. I wanted someone to help me in my journey, for someone not to just give me cliché answers, but to show me how to walk with Him.

I am now the director of STARS, Antioch’s after-school mentoring program for inner-city kids in Waco. As I play with the kids and interact with them every day, I wonder, “Which of these kids is waiting for someone to show him or her how to walk with Jesus?” I know in this journey we all need encouragement, someone to show us how to navigate the complexities of life; the joys and the sorrows, however small or big they may be.

We all need people to stand beside us, fellow sojourners who may not know all the answers, but who are able to share God’s love.

I spend time with the kids and wonder, “How many of these little hearts are longing for something more?” I know my heart is still longing to know Him more, and I encounter Him every day. My life is forever impacted by the simple words my mom said; “Jesus still does those things.”  I am excited to see how simple words spoken by the people in our church body will change the trajectory of many more kids’ lives.

By Stephanie Ybarra, Director of STARS