It only takes a spark
It only takes a spark

It only takes a spark

a My Dunrovin Story by Joaquin Martinez

I have three stories to tell. Mine. My sister’s. My daughter’s. These two girls changed the course of my life forever.

My sister: Although I was brought from Mexico to live in the USA, Adali was born here and life was very hard for her. As a second generation immigrant, Adali struggled in a whole new culture and experienced ‘a different world’ depression. She grew accustomed to being shunned in the grocery store or suspected while walking down the street. My family and I loved my sister, but we could not help her experience God’s love or freedom.

In 2014, our youth at St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis were invited to Dunrovin for our first Summer Leadership Camp. None of the kids wanted to go; they thought ‘We will have to pray all day.’ Certainly, Adali did not want to go.

My daughter: Even my own teenage daughter questioned going. And she was questioning me! My daughter turned the question to me. When I asked her, “Honey, would you like to go with the St. Stephen’s youth group?” Adriana questioned, “Dad, why don’t you go?”

We all went to Dunrovin. My sister went. My daughter went. I went.

I did not know that before coming to Dunrovin Adali had written a suicide note and stuffed it into her pocket. This is part of her writing:

Depression is a pain of sadness inside your body

                But I’m so good at hiding the pain, no one can see it

                Not anybody

                I tried, I really did try to stand tall

                I keep hearing voices in my head

                As if I wish I were dead

                I want to go home and never come back again

                Yes, I’m mostly at my house but my real home is heaven

                I’m going through so much

                I can honestly say I’ve had enough

                The suicidal thoughts are coming to my head

                Who would really care if I were dead?

                I’ll paint a pretty picture but there’s a twist

                My brush is a razor and my canvas is my wrist

                All those insults got to my head

                After a while, I finally ended up dead

Instead of the dreaded kneeling all day at the Summer Leadership Camp that summer of 2014, program director Miss Tess led the kids in rowdy dancing outside under huge shade trees. People at Dunrovin seemed genuinely interested in our St. Stephen’s students. Something broke inside of Adali’s heart. She became free. She allowed the love of the Dunrovin staff and the fun of the day and the spoken words of truth to penetrate her heart. Adali experienced the love of God. My sister went home from Dunrovin and re-wrote her poem to speak of life. Dunrovin is a wellspring for our thirst for God.

Me: Not only did Adali’s life change at Dunrovin, she handed the suicide poem to our family and said that she wouldn’t be needing it anymore. When I read her poem, I clearly heard God’s personal call questioning me, “Joaquin, what are you doing? I need you to shepherd my sheep.” I was called to serve God’s people.

Several years have passed since our first adventure at Dunrovin. Adali graduated from high school and is doing well. My daughter recently served on the National Evangelization Team after high school and is doing well. St. Stephen’s youth come to the retreat center often. Dunrovin’s theme is to spark faith! And they do! Dunrovin shows the kids a whole new world that they don’t know exists!

All by a simple ministry in the middle of nowhere called Dunrovin Christian Brothers Retreat Center.

Joaquin Martinez tirelessly serves the Latino youth of St. Stephen’s Church in inner-city Minneapolis and desires for all of them to encounter Christ. He says that Dunrovin sparks the faith and this helps other workers in God’s kingdom to fan that spark into flame.