The word leader sounds big, like something for older people; however, younger people can also do a great job and carry the title of leader. It only takes someone to guide and advise them every step of the way.
To develop leadership principles takes time. One teenager, Axel, is taking time to have a life of strong and Christ-centered leadership.
For almost three years Axel’s mother, Carmen, could not get pregnant. She was not a Christian at that time, but in her heart she prayed that God would let her have a child. She said to God,
“The baby will be yours, just loan it to me.”
Carmen got pregnant and Axel was born.
Axel comes from a simple family in Nicaragua. His father died nine years ago and his mother had to work selling goods at the market when Axel, his brother and sister were very little.
Carmen’s mother helped her a lot, but left the country to look for a better life. Carmen and her children live in and take care of the grandmother’s house. Carmen shares,
“It was very difficult to go to work to the market with the three children. I was desperate. I didn’t have Christ in my heart; my children were growing and becoming disobedient.
“I said to God … if you exist, give me an answer!”
After her desperate prayer, Carmen talked to the pastor of the church and Axel was registered at Mahanaim Student Center.
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Not long after Axel´s registration at the child development center, he began to share with his mother some Bible verses and some stories he learned at the center.
“I would get excited for all his improvement. He was not expressive but now he was telling me he loved me, and gave me hugs and kisses. I was overwhelmed.”
Carmen noticed that Axel spent more time at the center than at home. She would get a little upset but did not stop him.
By the grace and mercy of God in her child, Carmen finally gave her life to God three years ago.
With the lessons learned at the center, Axel and two of his friends began to play church at each other’s house. They would take turns to “preach” and the “congregation” was their siblings. Axel tells us,
“My mom worked at the child development center for a while and I used to see how she prepared herself for every class. Then I also took time to pray for the ‘sermon’ of our church game.”
More children were added to “play church,” and what started as a game became a reality in the church, which later established children’s service every Saturday. Thirty children now meet at church. The first leader was Axel but in earlier this year, he became the youth group leader.
Things are not always easy, especially for a young leader. Axel sometimes misbehaves like any other child, but his mother is there to advise him.
“My mom has been by my side in hard and good times, in my ups and downs, supporting everything I do like studies, ministry, etc.”
Johanna, Axel’s tutor, shares,
“As young leader, Axel has gone through some times where he also wants to give up; however the Nazarene, Axel’s mother, the pastor and his tutor have been there for him.”
When Axel gave his life to God and was baptized, he changed a lot. Axel had a strong character and had no patience with his brother and sister, but now he takes more time for them and helps them with their homework. With his mother, Axel was disobedient, but now he obeys and helps with home duties.
A close relationship with his tutor has also helped Axel to be a better child and good leader.
“I listen to the advice of older people and listening to them helps me to listen to those under my leadership. If the Lord has helped me to be here today, it is because I was under someone else’s leadership.
“My leaders took time to listen to me, so why am I not listening to those I am leading?”
Johanna shares more about Axel,
“Although he’s young, Axel is very mature and respectful in the way he talks and treats his friends. He is a good and intelligent child. Other teenagers follow him and respect him.”
Axel and his friends from church are an example to other children and teenagers in the community as well.
“I wouldn´t be here if it wasn´t for the change God did in me. We talk about God with other young people and our lives are a testimony for them because we are not in drugs or gangs, which give stability to our community.
“I like to tell people what Jesus has done in my life and if the way to do it is preaching, I’ll do it.”
Rosibel, Axel´s neighbor, also notices the difference in Axel,
“When we go out evangelizing, he preaches to the youth. He loves the things of God. I don’t see him doing bad things or saying bad words.”
A mother’s support is very important in the development of a great leader, too. The other two children who played church with Axel are simply attending the child development center because their parents, who are from a different religious background, don’t want them to grow spiritually.
“I support his leadership in prayer and fasting. I check if he´s praying or reading the Bible. I also tell him that who he is at church, in the street, in school, he must be at home, too. He can talk very nice in the pulpit, but his behavior at home is what I’m interested in. The Lord is watching over us at home, too,” expresses Carmen.
Letters from Axel’s sponsor have also encouraged his leadership.
“We have good communication and he has blessed me a lot.”
As a young leader, Axel needs a lot of support and guidance.
Johanna tells us,
“The pastor gives him Bible study and as a teacher I help him with other studies to strengthen his faith because the Word is the best guide.
“Axel would also like to study marketing and his mothers wish is ‘that the Lord´s will be done in him because Axel was just borrowed to me.’ Axel’s mother is very proud of her child. Axel is where he is because of God and the hard work of this woman who has known how to raise her kids.”
“Our family considers communication very important and that we get along very well. I don’t know if it’s because it is only the four of us, but every night before going to bed we hug each other, talk, pray, argue, cry, etc.”
Axel’s family is also thankful for the blessing the child development center has been to their lives and it has been a second home.
This beautiful family has experienced God’s grace and in gratitude they serve Him.
Inspiring and helping others to find the best area to work is what Axel is after in his leadership.
“We are all leaders but in different areas and that´s what we want for each teenager who comes to church, to find the best place for them to serve. If you like what you’re doing, you do it the best you can.”