DAVID CITY (SNR/AHS) – Students at Aquinas Middle and High school in David City had a presentation Sept. 11 by Craig Johring, founder of and missionary with Hope of the Poor in Mexico City, and Danny Leger, musician and missionary.
Hope of the Poor is a non-profit organization with missionaries in Alaska, Mexico City and Nebraska, with the mission of bringing Christ to the poorest of the poor. It is rooted in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”
Father Benjamin Holdren, a teacher at Aquinas and pastor at St. Joseph and St. Peter parishes in Bellwood, invited Johring and Leger to speak to the school and staff.
“It’s always a faith-strengthening thing to see someone who is giving their life so completely to serve our Lord,” he said, “and to see the joy and the peace that brings.”
Years ago, Leger used his musical talents to record music and perform at bars.
“I wanted to be a rock star,” he admitted. On Sunday mornings though, he would play at Mass.
Leger said he realized playing at bars with his rock star dream was “fun in the moment, but using my music to bring people closer to God brought everlasting joy.”
Through his music ministry work, he was introduced to Craig Johring and the poorest of the poor.
“Jesus is present in the poor,” said Johring, who became Catholic four years ago.
A Nebraska native, Johring said he witnessed Christ in the poor when he was working in Mexico City, and drove by lines of young girls waiting to be sold as prostitutes.
“It was like driving away from Jesus,” he said.
There are more than 20,000 victims of human trafficking in Mexico City, he explained. Through Hope of the Poor, Johring helped expose the travesty and created ways to assist the victims, such as two safe houses for those who can find refuge. He also helped produce the “Volviendo” documentary that is used by churches and organizations to expose the truth and end human trafficking in Latin America.
“These girls are runaways, on drugs, and most die young, before they are 21,” Johring said.
Hope of the Poor also provides food and clothes to the homeless, but, Johring pointed out, that doesn’t save them. He shared a memory of a place where many homeless, drug-addicted kids lived. A priest came and blessed the area and taped up a poster of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One year later, Johring said, all the kids who slept there, were drug free.
“Surrender your will to God,” Johring encouraged the Aquinas audience. “Make Jesus a ward of your life.”
Leger agreed. “We have an opportunity every day to give your life to Christ,” he said.
Aquinas Middle and High School in David City educates more than 275 students in a Christ-centered atmosphere, preparing them to actively participate in church, family and civic relationships.