For the last 5 ½ years I have been the youth pastor at Church of the Revelation in the Bronx, NYC. While here, there have been numerous challenges and struggles as we’ve attempted to love and disciple the youth that God entrusted to us. In an area that sees regular poverty, violence, and educational inequality, it can seem as though life is continual battle and a fight for every inch. While the ministry is eternally rewarding, it can also be difficult and challenging for the leader.
This is where UYWI has been exceptional. UYWI’s commitment to the urban youth leader is unprecedented. For me, UYWI’s desire to develop healthy and competent leaders has directly influenced the totality of my life. I have been challenged by both RELOAD seminars and the UYWI facilitated mentoring groups, to pastor my family well and to be a life long learner. These are the two greatest influences by UYWI, namely because these have made me a better leader and have broadened my ability to influence well.
This influence has opened doors with many youth, but most specifically, I have had the privilege of mentoring several youth in the same areas UYWI has mentored me.
- First, I have been able to model a healthy family to them. There are several particular students whose families have experienced tragic situations, and God has given me the access into their lives to help them see what they can do to break family cycles of dysfunction.
- Second, while many of those around them do not pursue further education, these students, living in the projects, are fully now in college and thriving.
I am confident these students, as well as many more, have been impacted because UYWI was willing to invest in me as a leader.
Mentoring Youth in the Bronx
We have two sisters who seemed to have so much working against them. They have an overbearing father who did everything to keep them from church and school, living in the projects, in one of the worst neighborhoods in the Bronx. With abuse, abortions, and destructive behavior in their lives, they started coming to our youth group and that’s where they met Jesus.
Though initially sporadic, my wife and I really made an effort to love and disciple these girls. Coming from a very broken family life, these girls connected with us quickly. This provided them with a sense of hope that their future families could be different and break the cycle of brokenness they’ve experienced growing up.
God has done so much in them over the years. Long story short, one is now a youth leader and thriving in a Christian college. The other is one of our worship leaders, is graduating high school, and is on her way to college this year. They are 2 of our most valuable youth workers and it’s been an amazing blessing to be a part of God’s work in them. I thank UYWI for investing in me as a leader, so that I could invest in youth like these girls.
Thank You UYWI!
Justin Aduor, Youth Pastor
Church of the Revelation, Bronx NY