After graduating from high school, Marcus Guerrero was lost. His closest friends were moving on to new careers and new relationships, but he had no purpose and no motivation to succeed. He was in and out of jobs, smoking marijuana, lying to his parents about where he had been and exploding with anger.

One day he learned that a friend committed suicide. Although he had lost touch with this individual, the news shook him. Marcus saw the similarities between himself and this young man who had taken his own life, and he knew he needed help. His older brother, Micah, had experienced change through Youth-Reach Gulf Coast (YRGC), and Marcus thought maybe there was hope for him too.

“The hardest thing ever is to realize your child is spiraling, and you have to let him hit the bottom,” Marcus’ mother, Shawn Guerrero, said. “Letting go of the idea that ‘mom can’t fix this’ was very hard.”

Marcus’ father, Felipe Guerrero, added, “All the males in our family were veterans with degrees, but this example didn’t resonate with either Micah or Marcus. I was confused about what went wrong with the message and delivery of these principles. In the end, I just decided to let them go, let them both hit their bottom and let God handle it. That was the only way real change was going to happen.”

Marcus had a lot to learn at YRGC. He tried to buck the system, and over the course of his stay, he endured significant discipline, which included digging up tree stumps across the campus.

“Six stumps ain’t no joke, and he just kept digging them up,” Felipe said. “BUT he stayed and weathered it! It was crazy!”

It took about eight months at Youth-Reach before Marcus’ parents began to notice a change in him.

“He began to speak about God’s love and how sorry he was for how he treated me when he was lost, angry and doing things he wasn’t supposed to, hiding behind late nights and blocked calls,” Shawn said. “That conversation was the first sign that he was changing.”

Marcus was nearly 23 years old when he graduated from YRCG. He got a fun summer job, then a few odd jobs that were inconsistent and unsatisfying.

“One day he called me at lunch,” Shawn remembers. “He said, ‘Mom, I can’t keep going on with these kinds of jobs; I need a career. I am going to call a recruiter for the Air Force as soon as I can.”

And that’s just what he did.

“Our family has an extensive military background, and Marcus always wanted to join, but he couldn’t pass the ASVAB entry test. He scored terribly!” Felipe said. “Then an absolute miracle happened after he finished the program: He tested again and blew it out of the water! We could not believe it! It was the most awesome news. He took the bull by the horns and has run with it since.”

Since joining the Air Force, Marcus recognizes his accomplishments and looks forward to the bright future ahead of him. He views challenges from a different perspective, staying calm even when frustrated. God has changed his heart, mind and body.

“I had faith that one day he would be in a good place and be happy,” Shawn said. “I didn’t know where or how, and obviously, neither did he. He regained that faith, that hope, and he pushed forward to make that change inside and out.

“Marcus is a lead plate that can take tons of punishment mentally,” Felipe said. “He is determined and disciplined when it comes to his vision and goals. We are so proud of him and so grateful for Youth-Reach and how the hand of God works through his people in this heavenly family we have here on earth.”