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Success StoryThe slumping financial markets probably hit close to home for many Americans struggling in today's economy, but imagine living in extreme poverty and trying to raise three younger siblings on your own. You would probably feel hopeless, desperate and forsaken. The idea of a "future" would not hold a lot of promise for you.
Nine years ago, this was the reality for 13-year-old Nelson from Panama. Nelson felt overwhelmed and wasn't sure what direction his life was taking. That is when the principal at his school invited him to be part of a Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) program called Project JOEL, which was developed in Panama and is now being used by LHM ministry centers around the world to help teenagers make good decisions in their lives and stay out of trouble. Teens in this program participate in Bible study, activities and educational programs about drugs, sex and other addictions. Nelson says the program moved him away from all the bad things that were tempting him and the risks on the streets. But most importantly, he says it led him to approach the Bible, faith and prayer.
With the help of his principal and Project JOEL friends, Nelson and his brothers stayed in school and continued to regularly participate in Project JOEL events. Today, he attends the university and works in the emergency room of Santo Tomas Hospital. He says his goal is to become a missionary for Jesus, because God never abandoned him during tough times. He couldn't explain how or why, but even when his family's needs were most urgent they always had food on the table and a roof over their head. God has truly used LHM and its Project JOEL program to do great things in Nelson's life.