A Heart for Young Lives

Name: Gerry & Kristi Salmeron-Meneses

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: 2014//2013

During his internship at a local church, Gerry Salmeron-Meneses (BA '14) discovered Young Life (YL), a program dedicated to introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. While serving as youth pastor for the next couple of years, Gerry continued to be drawn to Young Life's mission and decided to apply to work for YL in his hometown of Los Angeles.

“As a kid, I always wanted to leave this city (Los Angeles); but during my time at Hope God put a burden on my heart for the city where I grew up,” Gerry says of his transition to YL. “I saw how many kids were leaving their faith right after high school and how hard it was for kids to share their faith during their adolescent years. After my time a youth pastor, I heard God calling me, loud and clear, back to my hometown.”

For five years, Gerry worked as a staff associate for Hollywood YL where he and his wife Kristi (BA ’13) mentored teens and held small groups. “We reached about 250 young people on a weekly basis,” he shares of the vast reach of YL. “I specifically mentored four to six boys, meeting with them regularly and accompanying them on their journey with Christ.”

“HIU truly shaped us as leaders and showed us how to see Scripture not just as head knowledge, but applicable to life in everyday ministry,” Kristi reflects. “Not only were kids’ daily lives being transformed, but their eternity as well.”

As the need and interest spread, a new YL chapter was created for West Central LA. The program launched September 1, 2017, with Gerry as their Area Director. In this new role his responsibilities are recruiting, training, and equipping leaders, building relationships with local churches, creating a board, building relationships with the administration teams at the local schools, starting new clubs and expanding existing ones.

In addition to this new ministry opportunity, Gerry and Kristi recently welcomed two additions to their family. The Salmeron-Meneses couple are fostering two children from the community until they can be reunified with their family. “It has been amazing to see our ministry come full circle -- the teenagers we have been investing in for years with Young Life are now investing in these two little ones in our home,” says Kristi.

Kristi is currently serving as the Operations Manager of Saving Innocence, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to rescue and restore child victims of sex trafficking in Los Angeles through strategic partnerships with law enforcement, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), schools, and other front line professionals, while also mobilizing communities to prevent abuse and invest in the health of our future generations. Kristi’s heart for children is clearly reflected in her work and personal life. “The biggest lesson I have learned interacting with the hurting and broken people of this world is the need for acceptance and love,” she states on a social media post. 

Kristi and Gerry are active in the lives of their Young Life group members, attending their sporting events and making time to fellowship with them after school. By investing in these relationships, Gerry says, “We earn the right to be heard. We do all this in the hope of having an opportunity to share with them the greatest love story ever told – the gospel of Jesus Christ.”