Changing lives one youth at a time

Image: Eric and Cristie Enriquez — Eric and Cristie enjoy working with the 6th through 12th grade youth that attend First Baptist Church in Avalon.

Eric and Cristie Enriquez — Eric and Cristie enjoy working with the 6th through 12th grade youth that attend First Baptist Church in Avalon. (Karen Mathiowetz)

Eric Enriquez is the Youth Director at First Baptist Church in Avalon. Over the last year, the youth department has grown by leaps and bounds. They meet every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the church on S. Giles in Avalon.

“My wife, Cristie and I, give God all the credit for everything that happens in our lives and at church,” Enriquez said. “We love working with the youth, watching them grow in their faith. They are such a blessing for us.”

When Enriquez was fifteen years old, he began soul searching and realized God was calling him into the ministry. He answered the call but, as he grew older, he found himself going down a different path.

“Not being in the center of God’s will leads nowhere,” Enriquez explained. “Even though I knew I was not doing what was right, I continued anyway.”

One day God rescued Eric from a very serious and dangerous situation and he immediately knew he needed to change his life. That was his first wake up call. The second one came in the form of his tiny daughter.

“The day Tinzley was born was very profound for me. I knew I loved my wife, family and friends but this was different. When I looked into her tiny face, I realized the kind of love that God has for his children. For the first time I began to understand God’s unconditional love. I knew then I would never be the same. All I could think of was the country song I Saw God Today.”

After graduating from Italy High School in 2002, Eric attended Hardin Simmons University majoring in Pastoral Ministries. For financial reasons, he could not continue his education so he went to work. Several years later, when Cleve Clark, the pastor at the church in Avalon, approached him about the Youth Director position, Eric sought God’s will and accepted the position three weeks later.

Eric and Cristie enjoy working with the 6th through 12th grade youth that attend First Baptist Church in Avalon. Last year there were eleven youth that went with them to East Baptist Encampment in Newton, Texas.

“I work at RDT in Waxahachie. I am very fortunate to work for a Christian company with bosses that understand the importance of me being able to attend camp with my kids. I could not do this without them,” Enriquez said.

This year twenty-six students and five adults will leave on June 28th to head to Heart of Texas Baptist Encampment in Brownwood.

“I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at camp when I was fourteen years old,” Enriquez explained. “My family could not afford to send me to camp that year so my aunt sponsored me. I am so glad she could afford to do that and listened to her heart.“

“It is my hearts desire to see all my kids go to camp at no charge,” he added. “I know that several of them do not have the means to go if we do not raise the money. I also know that God‘s people are very generous and help when they can. I hope they will help sponsor our kids.”

It cost $215 per child for camp. The youth group has done several fundraisers including a bake sale at the Uptown Café that raised $1100 and a dinner at church that raised $500. There are also several people that have donated $100 scholarships to help.

“I know that our youth are the future of the body of Christ. They are very important and attending church camp could be life changing for any and all of them,” Enriquez said.

The youth plan a car wash in Ennis at Auto Zone on May 22 and a garage sale in the Cornerstone parking lot on Main Street in Italy on May 29th. They are also raising money with Cow Patty Bingo.

Please contact Cristie Enriquez at 972-921-6004 and leave a message if you have garage sale donations or would like to help with scholarships or expenses for camp. With everyone’s help, Eric’s desire will become a reality this year.