Alvin Moreno wants to help young people get off drugs and out of gangs the way he was helped - through religion.
Now a pastor of Victory Outreach, Moreno will stage anti-drug and -gang rallies today through Sunday in four locations. He’s going to where the kids are.
As a teenager in Fresno, Calif., Moreno thought nothing could help him escape drugs and gangs. He tried lots of programs, he said, but he always returned to his old ways.
He began using drugs when he was 13, and it wasn’t until he was 23 that he was able to break the habit.
That was 13 years ago, when he was introduced to Christianity.
He’s taken his ministry a step further to include adults at Victory Outreach, a home for recovering drug addicts at 3011 E. Wellesley. Eight men live there, finding ways to become productive citizens again.
“I take great responsibility (with the home),” Moreno said, “but it’s also a privilege. It’s exciting to see someone change.”
Most of the change comes through prayer and Bible study, he said.
But before Moreno can introduce gang member teenagers to prayer and the Bible, he has to get their attention.
Those rallying against gangs and drugs over the next four days know what obstacles the young people are up against, Moreno said. They have all used drugs. They have been gang members. They have been in jail, in prison. They know the frustration first-hand of trying to change.
Moreno will preach a message of change, trying to reach young people at a level they understand in a language they understand.
And everyone is invited.
“We want to encourage the community to come see what we are trying to do,” Moreno said.
“Some people might not agree with our type of method,” he said, but when you’re working with kids, sometimes it’s necessary to take radical measures, to find someone they can identify with.
“They don’t want to go to a church that’s boring,” he said. “We have a way of working with our kids that makes the Gospel attractive.”
Increasing numbers of Spokane youths are using drugs, Moreno said, and the city’s churches need to get more involved in addressing the problem.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: RALLIES Moreno and his messengers will rap in an outside rally at 4 p.m. today in Hillyard, at the corner of Columbia and Haven. At 4 p.m. Friday, they will be at the corner of Broadway and Nettleton; at 6:30 p.m. Saturday they’ll be in the YMCA gym, 507 N. Howard. At 1 p.m., Sunday, the gathering will be at Victory Outreach, 3011 E. Wellesley.