|   Posted: June 01, 2024

Five sponsored young adults share how music and sports are helping them develop their identities. Compassion centers were a key factor in these journeys.

Finding Their Voices in Music and Sports

Five sponsored young adults share how music and sports are helping them develop their identities. Compassion centers were a key factor in these journeys.

Story and photos by Lina Marcela Alarcón Molina, Juana Ordonez Martinez, Kevin Ouma, Hutama Limarta, and Alejandra Zuniga
Joseph from Kenya enjoys playing the trumpet.

In so many communities around the world, teenagers are exposed to violence, gangs and other dangerous situations. And this happens just as they're trying to find their identities and voices. If teens are not given the support they need, these situations can lead them down dangerous paths.

That's why Compassion centers offer young adults physical care and recreational opportunities. While they need food to eat, teens also need safe and fulfilling ways to express themselves. Extracurricular activities are one way for young adults to gain confidence and learn new skills.

We asked four young adults in Compassion programs for their perspectives. Their stories reflect the profound impact of these opportunities. Trust is built and futures are shaped through new skills being mastered. It's about so much more than just playing an instrument or enjoying a sport!

Juan of Columbia takes clarinet lessons.

Juan Diego, Colombia

Juan began taking clarinet lessons several years ago at his local Compassion center. His teachers quickly recognized his musical talent.

"I found my voice in music; it is something where I can express myself," says Juan.

Now Juan is part of a symphony orchestra, which includes Colombian and Venezuelan children and teens from different Compassion centers. He is one of the leaders in his instrument and helps his friends practice.

Juan adds, "It is very important to teach children life skills because it allows them to get away from the bad things that society offers them, such as drugs and gangs."

His mother is grateful and excited to see where her son's talent will take him. "My son has developed his ability in music. He loves the clarinet, and he has the desire for music to be part of his life plan. I feel happy that my son developed his talents in music by serving God and teaching children."

Gabriel of Domincan Republic plays baseball.

Gabriel, Dominican Republic

When Gabriel was just 10 years old, his father passed away. Grieving and missing his father, Gabriel felt depressed and lonely. It was not easy for him as a teenager: Drug dealing, theft and dropping out of school are the norm for teens in Gabriel's community.

But instead of going down this path, Gabriel started playing baseball during recess at his local Compassion center. He was hooked. Eventually, Gabriel joined a neighborhood junior baseball league. Attending practices, working with his teammates and playing regularly helped him cope with his father's death — and kept him from losing sight of the future God had for him.

As he looks ahead to his future, Gabriel pictures himself as a professional baseball player.

I'm passionate about the baseball strategies we put into action in every game, teamwork, and leaving a legacy of good sportsmanship and good behavior to the younger generations of my community," says Gabriel. "They can look to me and witness that it’s possible to defeat poverty.

Agung from Indonesia enjoys playing the guitar.

Agung, Indonesia

Agung attends the Compassion center in Moga Village, Indonesia. He recently found a new interest in music by taking guitar lessons. A friend in his neighborhood introduced him to the guitar, and after a year of playing, Agung has a found new hobby — and a new way to express himself.

"I can find my voice by playing guitar, especially playing the pop music that I like," says Agung.

His Compassion center has a weekly guitar class. They hired a professional tutor for this class, and Agung has been part of the class for a year. "I am very happy with the guitar class because then I can advance my guitar skills," says Agung.

Agung's mother, Kristiani, supports his new hobby and has even managed to get her son a guitar to play at home. Kristiani says that the center has filled the gap of what she can’t provide for her children. "The center builds my child's faith on a daily basis. I am thankful for that. I hope with his new hobby of the guitar, Agung can serve the Lord at church," she says.

Joseph from Kenya enjoys playing the trumpet.

Joseph, Kenya

Joseph discovered his voice and confidence through the Compassion program. When his center began offering lessons, he found a passion for an unexpected instrument — the trumpet.

"I am glad I found the trumpet; it has given me confidence before people," Joseph says.

This newfound skill allowed him to represent the Compassion center and his high school at events and competitions. In turn, this has opened doors to travel and personal growth.

The church and center staff have watched Joseph transform from quiet and shy to skilled musician. His confidence inspires other children at his center.

His mother remarks, "I like that Joseph has found and nurtured a skill that would have otherwise been out of reach for him. I want the best for my son, that he can go places and make something for himself through his music."

Karla from El Salvador plays soccer.

Karla, El Salvador

Karla lives in an impoverished and dangerous community in El Salvador. As babies, Karla and her younger brother were abandoned by their parents. So their grandmother, Nora, stepped in to take care of them. Nora relied on a pension to feed the children, so Karla was registered at a local Compassion center when she was 6.

A few years later, Karla began playing soccer at the center's sports club. Her coach noticed that she had the raw talent to go far in the soccer world, but her family could not afford the equipment or lessons. The center stepped in to pay for what was needed, and, eventually, Karla began training with their state's teen soccer league, which can lead to future income-generating opportunities.

Not only that, but with the support of her coach and community, Karla has a new confidence about her future. "Playing with this team allows me to be recruited as a prospect for international leagues. My biggest dream is to become an international soccer player. I want to fix our house and to provide for my grandmother and my brother," says Karla.

Give the Gift of Music

Young girl shows off the cake she baked.

Provide teens with opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

Young girl shows off the cake she baked.