Jorge Bayona’s family migrated to America from Colombia when Jorge was a child. When Jorge was 15, his dad died from injuries sustained in a bar fight. After dad died, Jorge spun out of control. He started making friends that led him a negative direction. Jorge says, “After my dad passed away, I rebelled against authority and my mom and those who cared about me.” Jorge’s mom did not know how to help her son stop his spiral, but after Jorge got into legal trouble, a friend of the family helped them get in touch with TCAR. In 2008, Jorge was allowed to leave juvenile detention and come to TCAR.
Jorge was an instant hit on campus. He is one of those super sweet people who does not have enemies. He was funny and fun loving and always had a smile for everyone. He has an unusual ability to be sincere and honest while being a friend to all.
Jorge was in TCAR for 14 months. He got his GED, his sobriety, a relationship with Jesus and a heart transformation! Jorge says, “I went in really bitter to have to go to TCAR but I got used to it because it was much better than juvi. The intake trip was helpful. I was able to relate with the others in the same situation. Brother Gene was one of the nicest guys I have ever met. I thought he was fake at first, but after watching him a while I realized he was that way all the time.”
Jorge blossomed spiritually at TCAR. He says he always believed in God but had not really followed God until TCAR. “I had prayed in detention and asked God to get me out and I’d follow Him. TCAR was an answer to that prayer. After a few months I started listening in chapel. Worship nights were really cool. Seeing the staff worship was eye opening. I’d never seen people involved in worship like that.”
After graduating TCAR, Jorge enrolled in Discipleship Training School at YWAM Orlando! I remember when Jorge told me he wanted to do YWAM, I realized this young man would have to raise $8,000 in less than 2 months. It stretched my faith. I knew it was right to encourage him to follow what he felt God wanted him to do, but I was afraid for him to get hurt if it didn’t work out. It blessed me to watch The Father provide everything for this young man. Week by week, Jorge’s funds came in and God even provided a free ride from Arkansas to Orlando.
In YWAM, Jorge deepened his relationship with God through 3 months of training and then serving in missions in South Africa for 2 months. Jorge says his 2 months in South Africa was “one of the coolest things I’ve done. I got closer to God and it solidified my relationship with Him.” Jorge says years later he struggled with his faith while going to a secular college. He says, “If it hadn’t been for the foundation laid for me in TCAR and YWAM, I would have been done with God.” Jorge says he still thinks back on those formative days at TCAR when he is faced with a decision. He asks himself, “What would Russell or Mark [TCAR staff] do?”
Jorge says he met a lot of lifelong friends in YWAM. And it was during his time in YWAM that Jorge met his wife, Kristin. They dated for 7 years before he finally sealed the deal. I remember telling him to “put a ring on it”, but Jorge wanted to be financially settled as an adult before marriage. I guess he was right, because he and Kristin have been happily married now for 7 years. They have 2 kids: Matias (4 years old) and Thiago (1 year old). Jorge and Kristin are active in their church and have served as leaders at a Bible study.
Jorge is 30 years old now. Jorge completed his bachelor’s degree in exercise science which he wants to use in a healthcare setting. He wants to work at a hospital teaching people to get healthy through exercise. He plans to start working on his master’s degree to be a physician assistant. Jorge says he enjoys school, but he also wants to be available to his sons and they like to play a lot. Jorge sounds like a great dad! Jorge also makes time for himself by playing soccer. He says, “TCAR got me started in exercising and running.”
Jorge says, “I’m just really thankful for TCAR. People who know my story ask me what program I went to and if I can help with their kids. I see other people and family members still living the lifestyle of drugs and other problems, and it makes me super thankful that I decided to change at TCAR. I’ve always wanted to work for TCAR too.”
Well come onboard whenever you’re ready, Jorge! We are so very proud of the man you’ve become! God used Jorge to teach me to not be afraid of encouraging these guys to follow God’s leading and to dream The Father’s dreams – no matter the cost or impossibilities.
Written by Stephen P. Williams, TCAR Case Manager