When you look around at all the challenges that are happening in our communities and neighborhoods right now sometimes it's easy to throw your hands up in the air and feel helpless to make any positive changes. Some people just shake their heads, cross their arms, and look around waiting for the calvary to come to the rescue. But guess what? The calvary is ALREADY HERE and they look just like YOU!
If God has allowed you to be in a community or around people where you see the issues and challenges up close, more than likely He has a plan for using you to bring answers and solutions. So how is that supposed to happen? It happens through the talents He placed inside of you before he sent you and into the world and positioned you to be in proximity of the problem (Ephesians 2:10).
Your community needs your talents. In fact God set it up in such a way that your talents are assigned to specific people who need them. Your talents are meant to address specific needs and problems.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control [sound mind]. ~ 2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV
So based on Paul's guidance to Timothy, let's look at these three key aspects of how you're supposed to engage your talents in your community...
If you're waiting for God to send someone to rescue your community you're going to be waiting for a long time because He already sent you. Christ in you is the hope and greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. And one great benefit of you using your gifts is that you help others unlock theirs in the process.
So your community is waiting on your gifts. It's time for you to give them what they need and have have been waiting for.
Seeing Humanity in the Community
Gang Intervention Specialist and Juvenile Justice Advocate, Amy "Hope Dealer" Williams, will share how true community and healing begins when we experience the power of story, intentional listening and genuine compassion. Williams' Tedx Talk, "Putting the Human Back in Humanity," provides a powerful reminder of the unfortunate shortcomings of judging people based on lazily-contrived labels. By validating one’s humanity, we create authentic relationships that can change the world. Enjoy!
Re-present: Black Men in America
Recently I was invited to write a guest blog post for No Compromise Magazine. I was asked to write about the epidemic of the killing of black men in America. This is a hot-button issue that is more complex than most people consider before they give their opinions. While the death toll of young black men continues to rise in this country, anger, frustration, and even hopelessness continues to increase also. It's easy for people to givev"black and white" opinions, but few are discussing the real root of what needs to be done. I feel it the responsibility of Kingdom-minded people to take a stand talk about Kingdom solutions. Here is a brief excerpt from my article:
Visionless, hopeless people are dangerous people. Why? Because, according to God’s Word, they cast away moral restraints and boundaries that keep them from doing evil deeds. I believe the dangerous combination of overwhelming circumstances mixed with hopeless attitudes leads to many of the violent situations that continue to flood our communities and destroy families.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this epidemic. However, God does give us the antidote to the disease of sin and hopelessness. Please read the full article and I would love to hear your thoughts.
Full article available at: http://www.nocompromisemag.com/blog-1/2017/6/11/black-men-in-america
Check out my part 1 of my interview on "Mornings with Morris" hosted by my good friend, actor, and nutritionist Morris Austin. We discussed various topics, but one thing we focused on was why God is concerned about the social ills of people and why Christians should be concerned too, and some of the things we can actually do about it. Enjoy!
Time to Live Dangerously
“To live outside of God’s will puts us in danger; to live in His will makes us dangerous.”
~ Erwin McManus from An Unstoppable Force
Typically when someone is considered dangerous, it means they are likely to cause damage or danger to someone or something. In essence they are a threat to safety, order, and peace. As I think about it, I want to be an intentional threat, but not to safety, order, and peace. I want to be a threat to things that injure, defeat, oppress, and negatively impact lives, especially young people.
The world is full of people who play it safe. I don’t want to be one of them. I want to live my life on the edge. However, I’m not necessarily talking about “death-defying” activities, such as bungee jumping, skydiving, or wrestling wild animals (that’s for a different post). I’m talking about maximizing my full potential by utilizing my God-given abilities, talents, gifts, and resources to be a catalyst for life transformation.
I have learned over time that being a life transformation catalyst means that I must be willing to smash the status quo, i.e. standards that people and society have accepted that shouldn’t be. I can’t strive for a life of ease and comfort. I have to take risks, stretch my faith, strategically apply my giftedness, and reach out to people that others have rejected.
By living dangerously, I want to smash the status quo for youth and young adults in the areas of:
Success in business can come from some unexpected places. Jackets for Jobs, Inc. in Detroit is a great example of this. This incredible organization, founded by Allison Vaughn in 2001, provides unemployed women with business attire and mentoring, while helping them find jobs. Since they started, they have helped over 16,000 women. I love this quote by Ms. Vaughn:
When Jesus tells us to help the "least of these," I believe many Christians struggle with seeing how that applies to our businesses. However, this powerful story is a great example of how following your dream can make a significant impact in your community.
I encourage you to ask God how He wants you to use your dream to impact your community.
Click here to read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alison-vaughn/how-dressing-the-unemploy_b_8033112.html
5 Reasons Why We Should Teach Teens to Change Their Communities and Not Escape Them
Recently I read an article online that focused on the challenges many African-American teens face in their own communities and how in the past it was taught that your education was the ticket to escape. The author was challenging that notion with some points that supported the premise that these teens should be taught how to change their communities rather thatnlook for the first chance to get out.
While I definitely agree with the overall theme in the article, one of the things that jumped out to me was the fact that this is not an issue just for African-American teens. We need to be teaching all young people across all cultures the importance of investing in the communities they grow up in while they are there.
Here are five reasons why I believe we should teach all teens focus on impact in their communities versus escaping them:
Youth are often overlooked and undervalued as community development assets. However, they are in the perfect position to become positive change agents. If we can get them to see it in themselves, maybe we can turn more communities around.
Read the full article, Teach black students they can change communities, here: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/jul/07/teach-black-students-change-communities-not-escape
Part Time, On-Call, & Full Time Positions
A few months ago our team at Greater Works announced the launch of an initiative to provide employment training and job placement to ex-offenders, at-risk youth, and others in underresourced and underserved communities (see 30 Jobs and Counting). That's why I'm extremely excited we have developed a partnership with a company that is prepared to hire 500 people, giving us the chance to present this opportunity to the people we serve.
We are facilitating the hiring of on-call Banquet Servers, Hosts, Cooks & Bartenders to work in a challenging, but fun environment. We are working with a unique staffing company that specializes in the hospitality industry. We are looking for enthusiastic, hardworking individuals to join a great team to deliver on our promise of excellent customer service.
*** This is NOT multi-level or network marketing ***
For more information or to apply online today, please visit www.greater-works.com/job-app.html
If you only pay attention to mainstream media outlets, you will only get a distorted, narrow, and negative image of young people from urban communities. This powerful story of Taharka Bros. Ice Cream in Baltimore is a great example of young leaders from an urban community turning their passion and concern into positive action that will not only benefit themselves but others also. What excites me even more about this story is the entrepreneurial creativity, ingenuity, and perseverance they demonstrated to bring into reality their dream of impacting their community through ice cream. I hope this inspires you...
A DREAM PREFERRED - Directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing from Tribeca Film on Vimeo.
The future of Taharka Brothers, purveyors of ice cream and social change, hinges on the success of a crowdfunding campaign. If successful, they will be able to grow their business by launching a “Food for Thought” ice cream truck, a literal vehicle for change. With a looming deadline, and what seems like an insurmountable goal: $28,000 in 29 days, Taharka Brothers takes to the streets to raise awareness, inspire, and turn out some supremely delicious ice cream – voted Best in Baltimore.
How A Youth Business Training Became a Millennial Focus Group for Community Transformation
If you have been working in ministry or the community for any amount of time it is not uncommon for God to work in ways that are not necessarily mysterious, but are definitely unexpected. Recently, I was facilitating a youth business training with Greater Works Vocational Discipleship Program for a group of at-risk youth in Atlanta.
I had my lesson plan laid out to teach them how to start a purpose driven business. However, I found as I was going through my curriculum, it was not connecting with them. I tried different "trainer techniques" to get them to engage, but nothing seemed to work.
It wasn't until I started focusing more on asking them questions than teaching content did I start to make a connection. I began inquiring about the problems they saw in their communities and the causes they believed were the culprits.
The energy in the room skyrocketed when I became the student and I opened myself to be taught by them. At that moment I had two choices: 1) stick to what I had planned to teach them, or 2) become a sponge so that I could better determine how best to reach them based on what they were facing. Fortunately, I chose the latter.
So what began as a youth entrepreneurship training became a millennial focus group for community transformation. It was very revealing what they saw as the issues and causes in their own communities, as well as some of the potential solutions. The top 4 issues they listed were:
That's why we need more Joshua's to lead the younger generation to their promise land. Sometimes it's easy for adults to talk at or over teenagers without really talking to them to hear their perspectives. With the complex issues that we are facing our communities these days, it behooves all of us to seek wisdom from whatever source God may bring it.
You can learn more about how Kinsman Community Ministries is working with youth to transform their communities through social enterprises at www.mykinsman.org/youth.
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