And there was one more problem.
Everywhere Rocky went, his heart broke for the children that lived in functioning communities of wild street kids—children with no parents, no money other than what they could steal, no food and no shelter. They lived poverty-stricken in the streets, sleeping where they could, eating out of trash cans. They seemed to exist to exist, fighting and scrapping to live another day and then another. Rocky met one 12-year-old boy named Fidel who, by will and smarts, had become supreme leader of a large group of kids. Just for the asking, Fidel could get drugs, prostitutes—every vice imaginable.
It shook Rocky to his core to see kids so exposed to a harsh, adult world of despair. And contrary to the popular belief that once a street kid grew up they would enter back into mainstream society Rocky knew that wasn’t true. Street kids turn into street adults and end up in prison or dead. Their lives wreak havoc on themselves, their families and on society.
Bolivia had no answer for the problem. But did he? Rocky begged God for direction.
Suddenly it occurred to him. While there were plenty of local churches, they were not the thread that held the society together. The one thing that everybody experienced—even if for just a few years—was school. If kids could just stay in school, they would have a chance.
“Jesus needs to be in the public schools,” Rocky thought. “Without him, there is no other way to save Bolivia. If kids can hear about the love of God through Jesus, they will sense, even if they don’t fully understand, that their school is offering them something they can’t get anywhere else. They will feel that school is a place of love.”
Joske and Rocky went before their church to gain support for what they were about to do. The church enthusiastically came alongside to help build the program and curriculum, even going so far as to begin writing textbooks. They focused on life skills, principles, values and purpose for living—all centered on Jesus’ life and teachings.
Now for the hard part—getting the government to allow it. Initially put off by the idea, officials finally reasoned that they were without answers for the generational problems besetting the country. They, with support from the Roman Catholic Church, approved the curriculum to be tested in three schools.
The result was so dramatic; no one could misinterpret the effect. The kids were filled with excitement and enjoyed school, and the teachers and parents were calling for more. Better yet, the dropout rates nearly vanished. There was no denying that Rocky and Joske had opened the floodgates to a sea of change. Suddenly, Bolivia’s children, and perhaps the entire country, had a new hope. Even the Bolivian government was overjoyed.
Since then, Mission Generation curriculum has reached every corner of Bolivia, and more than 15 countries across Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe have either instituted it or are considering it. Even school districts in the United States have seen the value and have adopted it.
In Bolivia, the change is so dramatic and the number of conversions to Christianity is so high that the schools themselves have become the local church in many communities.
“Schools are now a beacon of hope,” says Rocky. “People used to want to get away from them—now they can’t get enough. That’s the power of Jesus.”
Rocky looks at the streets of Bolivia and sees an enormous difference from what they used to be. It’s been a long road from a car salesman to a vessel for life-change in the lives of millions in Latin America.
“It’s good to know God can give you a new direction at any time,” Rocky adds. “It’s happened for millions of kids, and it has certainly happened for me.”