Growing up, Rosalinda P. Vint was a ward of the court in the Los Angeles County foster care system. Her broad smile, now radiant, wasn’t perceptible back then, if it existed at all. She endured horrific abuse—emotionally, physically and sexually.
Rosalinda knows, from experience, the cold, hard facts—that 70 percent of foster youth will have a run-in with the law or end up in prison; that a shocking majority of these troubled youth have been sexually abused at least once, often more; and that, simply put, many of them never had a chance of a good life.
But she also knows something else. That God can turn anyone’s life around. Which is why she has dedicated her life to rescuing troubled youth who would otherwise fall through the cracks of society and into the abyss.
“It is my hope that I can share the passion I have for God and my love of those who have been abused and abandoned,” says Rosalinda, who serves as an assisting minister at LightHouse Church (Newbury Park Foursquare Church) in Newbury Park, Calif. “I know that my God is a good God, and that He can turn things around for His glory and for His people. He hears the cries of His children in foster care, in prisons, and in detention cells, and He is calling this generation to rise like never before and go to these kids and share ourselves, our resources and, most important, Him.”
That calling is why, in 1998, Rosalinda founded Women of Substance & Men of Honor, Inc. (WOSMOH). She has served as president for six years. Her husband, Dave, is treasurer for the non-profit community service organization. The couple has three adult children.
WOSMOH provides support to young men and women, typically ages 12-24, who either have been in the foster care system or incarcerated. The organization’s stated mission is to “provide resources to young men and women in need who are ready to change the course of their lives or who may have never been given an opportunity.” Their vision is to “establish a network in California with individuals and companies that share the same passion to address the needs of guidance and support of today’s less fortunate and/or at-risk youth.”
The ministry offers classes that help young people transition from foster care or prison life back to the outside world—a daunting move for most of these youth, who typically have no money and even less of a support network. WOSMOH helps them learn basic life skills, such as how to conduct oneself socially; how to handle an interview; how to obtain one’s documentation, such as a birth certificate; how to register for school; and how to locate a church. They provide care packages that include clothing gift cards, food cards, bus passes, gas cards, toiletries and school supplies.
“We provide mentoring both on the inside and the outside,” explains Rosalinda, who is in the process of converting her licensing to chaplaincy because of her regular ministry in prisons, where she conducts services and meets with prisoners. “For example, we have a biblical mentoring class with women, where we discuss everyday issues and how they apply to God’s Word, such as how to act modestly and deal with your abuse.”
Other ministries of WOSMOH include Alpha classes for young men, where leadership and communications skills are taught and guidance offered on how to leave a gang; host-home referrals for foster youth; lifestyle and relationship education; rehabilitation and restoration services; Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous courses; birth coaching for incarcerated women; and even Christmas gift bags for prisoners, to name just some of the organization’s ministry outreaches.
Many are responding to the love and hope that WOSMOH extends in the name of Christ. After four hours of services held in one prison, for example, Rosalinda and her team spent an extra hour anointing and praying for women to be healed. Many women, says Rosalinda, experienced healing and a release from the heavy burdens they had been carrying.
Rosalinda is just as thrilled to see how God works with people one-on-one through the careful building of relationships. Recently, she tells Foursquare.org, a young man in foster care accepted the Lord after having been an atheist his whole life. He had been physically and sexually abused, had lived in 15 different homes and was not coping well.
“We became friends in his group home,” Rosalinda recalls, “and ministered to him for the last two years. Now he goes to church and tells me how blessed he is. And, we found him a safe home with a young Christian man.”
It’s powerfully moving, says Rosalinda, to witness a young person reach out and learn to trust another human being after a lifetime of having learned, due to troubling or terrifying experiences, to withdraw into an impenetrable shell. Nothing excites her more than to see young men and women come to the Lord and experience healing for the first time in their lives.
“So many of them, now, are able to go into a youth detention center to help out,” she shares. “They are also willing to open their hearts at church. Many give financially, many volunteer, and many pray. So many lives have been touched by the lives of these young people.”
And that’s what makes her smile. Not the bachelor’s degree she earned from Biola University, as great of an accomplishment as that may be. Not the fact that she was a senior executive with a Fortune 100 company for 25 years before going into the ministry, as fantastic of an experience as that was.
What really makes her smile is to look across the table at a young person who has just found freedom and see him or her, for the first time, break into a wide grin of their own.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles