I have been working with JMI for 5 years. I could share lots of good things about JMI, like our goals, activities, and the help we provide those in need. I could also share about how well we do everything, because we allow God to help us deal with our challenges. However, these things don’t fully describe JMI, because the essence of this organization is all about relationships. JMI is about people. Honestly, this sounds strange to the world in which we live today – because this world focuses on the material – what you have and how much. But a pure and sincere relationship is something you can’t buy or give away.
The JMI staff spend a lot of time together, talking and caring for one another. While we are friends and family with the staff, we are also family with the teenagers we work with. Our goal is to build relationships with them – because only by our own example can we positively influence their values, morals, and spiritual state.
A win for me is when I see our teens learning, like when they are communicating with each other without aggression, learning to value friendship, or growing in their desire to spend time together. When I see them developing their ability to control their emotions or beginning to understand the emotional state of the other person, I know they’re learning. While these may seem like small things, big things happen when we do lots of small things. Oftentimes, when I reflect on their growth and how their talents and abilities are being revealed, tears come to my eyes.
This is never more true than in the story of a young man in our Transitional Living program. When he came to us he didn’t talk much at all – literally, the longest sentence I ever heard him speak had only 10 words. But we were patient with him and worked with him. Now, 2-years later, he is a leader and an example to other teens in our program. He is not afraid to speak in public and he now leads Bible lessons.
What impacts me the most is when I see gratitude from these teens as they understand all we invest in them, I realize our work is not in vain. This young man once asked me, “How do you have so much patience, care, kindness, and forgiveness towards me?” My answer was very simple, “Of all things, the most important thing is not things at all.”