my high school years as many of you know, were not focused on serving god in any way. my parents went to a large church.... ok a huge church. the high school group in itself is probably bigger than 95% of the churches in the country. here is a snap shot of what my sunday morning would consist of as i appeased my parents to roll with them to church. i would take a seat in the luxury foyer of the building that the youth ministry was housed in and would than be approached by different leaders who would introduce themselves to me and act like it was the first time they met me and my first time there. you see a kid with ben davis pants and a white t-shirt was not the normal attire. lol. i would usually give them different names than my real name just for fun. we met mostly as a large group in some big room. but once in awhile we would break off into small groups and not meet as a large group. this is when i met james banez... he was a college student that drove a vw van that was painted like a cow with bull horns in the front. he was the small group leader for about 5 of us. i got connected with that group because i guy that i had played basketball with before was in that group. james was filipino which was nice since everyone else was white. yeah i am white... but i thought i was mexican. haha. (side note i use to pray to god that i could be mexican... i'm not kidding, yes i had issues).
james really tried to connect with me... he always remembered my name, he was more interested in talking with us and having a meaningful conversation that making sure we got through some talk sheet or some agenda. he was interested in us and desired us to follow christ. he called and i usually brushed him off for those church beach trips and swim things or any other youth event. but in those dark days of my life... james was the one person that kept a refreshing view of christ and the church in front of me. he really meant a lot.
i am sad to say that james died last week. he was hit by a hit n run driver as he was traveling to the bay area. i have not seen his since high school but maybe once. but he did know that i actually turned out alright and i did get to tell him thanks. he leaves a wife who is pregnant and three children already. pray for his family i have no idea the pain they are feeling. i just wanted to say one more time ... thank you to james banez who gave me my first lesson in what it looks like to do relational youth ministry.