I hear all of the time that "going to Summit changed my life." But Brian Skaret's story made my jaw drop.
Almost everywhere I go I hear about them—students inspired to lead pro-life groups on campus, rebellious teenagers reconciled with mom and dad, budding academics who join the battle of ideas—all inspired by attending a Summit Ministry student conference.
I've spent years working with Summit. I still teach at many of their conferences, and I never tire of hearing their stories.
Recently, I met a guy named Brian Skaret, who attended a Summit conference all the way back in 1994. The journey he began back then resulted in catalyzing restoration for an entire community.
It's the story of Juarez, Mexico, a city of 1.5 million on the Rio Grande, just south of El Paso, Texas. As recently as 2010, the Toronto Star called Juarez the most dangerous city in the world—even more dangerous than Kabul or Damascus! The main cause of the chaos was the Barrio Azteca gang that terrorized Juarez with a brutality that led to the murder of thousands of people, including two Americans and a Mexican citizen connected to the U.S. Consulate.
Fast forward to June 2016. The headline of an article in National Geographic read, "Once the World's Most Dangerous City, Juarez Returns to Life." Now what happened? The lead sentence tells us: "Amid drug wars, Mexico began fixing the local justice system. Now crime is down and residents are losing their fear."
And that's where Brian Skaret comes in. Today Skaret is doing the sort of thing that Chuck Colson would have loved—fighting for justice, in this country and overseas. As an attorney with the Department of Justice for the last 15 years, Skaret lives out his faith by confronting evils.
He was a leader on the team of federal prosecutors that put away dozens of Barrio Azteca gang members who had terrorized Juarez—including the "lieutenant" Arturo Castrellon, aka "Benny," who personally—and indiscriminately—ordered the execution of three individuals connected to the consulate. Once "Benny" was brought to justice, his reign of terror in Juarez ended, and the once deplorable city started mending.
And what does Brian Skaret point to as the catalyst for the calling he's embraced in his life? Here's the answer in his own words:
"Those two weeks (at Summit) back in the summer of 1994 changed the course of my life . . . I was a bit of a rabble rouser back in the day. Aside from the Lord's grace and mercy, Summit was the single most reason that I survived college, held on to my faith, and started my professional life with a solid grounding in a biblical worldview."
Brian told me the whole story of his work to stop the Barrio Azteca evil on the BreakPoint podcast. You'll want to listen to it, trust me. He now continues his work for the DOJ in the nation of Colombia, where he and his son have also started an education fund for children of fallen Colombian police officers. Check out today's episode of the BreakPoint podcast for the whole story.
And if you'd like to make a lasting investment in the future of the young people in your life, an investment to help them acquire the tools they need for their academic and professional lives, send them to a Summit conference this summer. They might not become federal prosecutors fighting drug lords, but like Brian, they'll receive a foundation in worldview, apologetics, and leadership that will last a lifetime.
I've committed the last 19 summers to work and now teach at Summit Ministries. As Chuck Colson once said, they're the "gold standard" when it comes to training young people in Christian worldview and preparing them to live out their faith in this very challenging culture.
It's for students ages 16 and up. Summit conferences this summer are being held in Colorado, California, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Learn more at Summit.org. Or come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We'll link you to Summit.
A Summit Story: Fighting Evil, Restoring Juarez, Creating Culture
Take advantage of these conference opportunities offered by Summit Ministries this summer. Click here for more information on how to get your teens engaged in thinking biblically about the culture around them. They might just be the next Brian Skaret! And hear more of Brian's story at the BreakPoint podcast with John Stonestreet.