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The InnerCHANGE Voice is a bi-monthly publication specifically for friends of InnerCHANGE. In this issue, we celebrate local leaders. 
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Dear Friends,


Witnessing God raise up local leaders is one of our deepest joys in InnerCHANGE. In this issue we listen to the stories of local leaders from San Francisco and Venezuela. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Also, don't miss  the info about summerXchange internships for Summer 2015!

with joy, 
The InnerCHANGE Voice Team

Salt & Light: Oakland, CA        

(click above to watch)

Celida shares how she is starting to see a vision she had 16 years ago come to life through InnerCHANGE, a vision of young people being raised up to proclaim God's love.

"He greeted us with an 'I love Jesus' kind of smile..."

Story by John Shorack
 
My first recollection of Arturo Gutierrez was on my second visit to Caracas, Venezuela in April, 2000. Lila Blanchard, a young missionary considering making these urban slums her place of service, and I were walking the community. That’s what we do in InnerCHANGE. We take the pulse of a new neighborhood, strike up conversations with strangers and prayerfully listen to God’s Spirit. Yes, we had been warned not to just wander into an urban slum, to always enter with someone who belongs. Technically, we weren’t violating the loving instructions of our host. We were simply walking around the edge of a large slum --unaccompanied and terribly out of place! 
 
Barrios of Caracas, Venezuela

As the sun was starting to set, we reached the entrance to the one slum community that was at least familiar in name: Barrio San Pablito. As we passed the entrance, without going in, a young man with a guitar on his back and long, curly hair bouncing with his vigorous, fast-approaching gate, greeted us with a “I love Jesus” kind of smile. This, we would soon learn, was Arturo, boasting the glory of a new believer’s unbridled zeal. 

 
Arturo had been tipped off, or was it just the Spirit that linked our hearts in the middle of the street? Do you know our host, Pastor Simon? (I inquired of the friendly stranger, not yet knowing who he was.) Of course! (How could it be otherwise?) Arturo introduced himself, assuring us that he and our host worked together in Barrio San Pablito. He knew of some “gringos” that were visiting (which he supposed we were) and became our escort up the hill, into the barrio.

Pastor Simon never made it that day. But Arturo showed us the streets and footpaths that were his home, and what a home it was. Like a one-two knock-out punch, crack cocaine and Air Jordan shoes hit Barrio San Pablito in close succession just ten years earlier. One, of course, raised the stakes for financial control through drug sales; the other, riding on Michael Jordan´s superstar status, sparked a feud between three families, effectively eliminating an entire generation of young men who killed each other over the shoes. This is the world that greeted us that day at the entrance to Barrio San Pablito. This was the world Arturo joyfully navigated with Jesus. 

Arturo and I could not have been raised in circumstances any more radically different, at least externally. My white, middle-class American town, ever so quiet and subdued --proud, if not arrogant, in its postmodern bubble of supposed tolerance and self-enlightenment-- exudes a controlled, serene existence, with open space in abundance, personally and publicly. Arturo’s life incubator, Barrio San Pablito of Caracas, Venezuela, crowds its 2000 residents into an area possibly the size of two soccer fields, where “privacy” is not in their vocabulary, quiet weekend nights is a foreign concept, and the footpath in front of your home feels more like the hallway in the university dormitory, yet always under the tropical sun.

From that first encounter, I believe Arturo knew intuitively who we were, what we were doing and that he would come to walk with us in a special way. In fact, few Venezuelans intuit, like Arturo has, the heartbeat of InnerCHANGE and what gets us up in the morning. After volunteering with the team for many years, often as mentor and culture broker, helping us minister contextually to the ways of the barrio, Arturo and his wife, Layyen, joined us in 2011, with the goal of leading a new team in the Amazon region of Venezuela. Oh, and if you get the chance to meet Arturo someday, you’ll notice he still exudes that same “I love Jesus” smile, albeit, tried and tested in the line of fire.
Arturo and John                                              Arturo with his wife, Lay Yen, daughter,
                                                                       Grecia, and teammate, Noretys.


~John Shorack has lived in barrios of Carracas, Venezuela since 2002. He currently serves as Regional Director for InnerCHANGE Latin America.  


Are you looking for a summer internship or do you know somebody else who is? We are looking ahead to some great summerXchange internships on various IC teams around the world. Applications will be available soon! To find out more, visit www.summerxchange.com
Thank you for reading this edition of the InnerChange Voice. We're so glad to have you walking with us. We welcome your comments and questions. 

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