More often than not, students have a difficult time vocalizing what they are feeling and allowing themselves to be vulnerable, especially amongst their peers. They fear judgment and humiliation; that expressing their emotions may come off as weak. However, when a safe space is created, and activities engage students on a heart level, such as during God Time, students respond.
Summer Jam, Urban Youth Impact’s seven-week summer program, is underway and the organization is greatly encouraged by the growth students are experiencing academically as well as spiritually. Students are being academically enriched all while experiencing the love of our Father.
This year’s theme for God time, or G-Time as they like to call it, is “All The World’s A Stage: Facing Life’s Drama.” Every week students have been discussing the numerous dramas that they face as teenagers, including fear, apathy, and isolation. During one of the recent G-Time’s, students were encouraged to break out of their comfort zones and explore worshipping the Lord in new ways. Throughout the Life Center, there were different stations students could spend time with the Lord and experience Him in new ways, such as praying for others, expressing themselves through art and song, writing a letter to Him, and writing down their struggles and placing them on the cross. Every student engaged in the activities and took the time to break out of their comfort zone.
By the end of G-Time, the entire cross was covered with notes; whether a prayer request, a confession that had been weighing on their heart or an expression of gratitude for the Lord’s goodness. A few notes read, “I thank you God for everything.” And “I love you, God.” While others read, “God help me with the hate in my heart.” And “Do you still love me if I sinned?” Or, “I love you so much, God. I just wish I had a brother that could be a good person not a bad one so he doesn’t mess up his life. Please God make him a better person.”
One moment in particular stuck out the most to Urban Youth Impact staff that day during the activities. As students were participating and spending time with the Lord, a young man named Jamal stood up. He did not draw attention to himself and look for affirmation from his peers or leaders. Jamal took it upon himself to walk around the Life Center and pray for other students. He laid hands on them and chose to bless his peers; knowing all of them were facing a battle.
Urban Youth Impact does not only desire academic improvement for their students but more importantly, spiritual growth and experiences with God. Students were able to express their deepest fears, insecurities, and pain; all while turning to God and finding solace that they are not alone.