FUEL NETWORK LEADER
NORTH BERGEN, NEW JERSEY
"A million young people are leaving the church, I have seen it with my own eyes; it's like once they finish high school they finish church."
SUSAN TRIPI DeLANO
Hey UYWI Fam! We are proud to continue our series on Fuel Network leaders, shining a spotlight today on Tamar Reyes.
Tamar is the youth director at Iglesia Cristiana Fuente de Salvacion in North Bergen, NJ and is the UYWI NJ Fuel Network leader.
Years ago, Tamar’s parents migrated to the United States from the Dominica Republic, an experience that God had and still is using to shape Tamar’s perspective, theology, and worldview. Growing up, Tamar’s “[P]arents [were]pastors, so I guess you can say I basically was born and raised in church.”
Though her parents modeled pastoral leadership as a calling, Tamar went through her own “ups-and-downs” in her faith journey. Tamar shares that her “relationship with God [wasn’t always] strong … it wasn't until 2011 when I truly began to embrace what God had called me to do.”
God is using Tamar’s “up-and-down” journey as a pathway to reach youth that are falling away from the church, an epidemic that grieves Tamar—she reflects: “I [see] it with my own eyes; it's like once they finish high school they finish church.”
From her own experience, Tamar understands that faith is not always easy to embrace and live out. It is normal to wrestle with life issues while trying to balance an understanding of what scripture teaches. For many youth living in an urban context, the Church has lost its relevance and its impact. Tamar recognizes the pain in the hearts of youth who are hurting, afraid, and frustrated by systemic and social conditions, who are uncertain whether faith and God can make a difference. God is fanning a passion within Tamar to be a light pointing those youth back to God and a passion to equip youth leaders with the resources to lead and engage well in the midst of the challenges.
“In 2019 I received the 90 degrees urban youth ministry certificate. Through this program I realized exactly what we were missing, a young adult ministry. Currently I am the youth director at our church and serve in leading our young adults.”
Burdened by the reality that “millions of young people are leaving the church” the mission of the NJ Fuel Networks is to be a place where leaders can connect with each other to create and collaborate together for the development & growth of our youth ministries. According to Tamar, the end goal is simple: “to help [youth leaders] develop and grow strong in their faith. If we, as youth leaders, connect and collaborate, amazing things will happen.” This approach is pioneering new ground, for cross-collaborations are not the typical method in NJ. Collaboration is a common theme within the UYWI Fuel Network leaders and affirms that God is raising up a new philosophy of leadership within us people that will expand the reach of the Kingdom in this generation.
Like many youth leaders, Tamar is involved in bi-vocational ministry along with her team Mario, Luisa (pictured above). In addition to working as the Youth Director at her family’s church, she also works as a high school Spanish teacher. In this role she brings a servant’s heart to not only teach students another language, but to also equip other teachers with the tips and insights to be the best teachers “they can be for our black and brown students who deserve excellence,” Tamar says. This is another stellar example of how God is using Tamar’s natural leadership abilities to make a positive impact in her community.
“No one should ever have to feel alone or figure out ministry or even try and reinvent the wheel when we can all come together and work together for God's kingdom.”
Did you know? When you become an Urban Ally, you are stepping from the sidelines and into this movement by committing to being a financial partner. You can join this initiative by contributing at least $25 a month and have your gift go DIRECTLY towards this vision.
Get off the sidelines and join the movement. Become an Urban Ally and #FUNDTHEFUTURE
In all she does, Tamar desires to be a positive role model with a positive influence on youth to embrace who they are and who God is calling them to be. This includes challenging societal standards of beauty, which often does not elevate the features and uniqueness of people of color. In choosing to live comfortably in the shape and form that God gifted her, Tamar shares “I always wear my hair curly. I do it as a reminder of who God created me to be; for inspiration for all the girls out there who are told that they must wear their hair straight because ‘straight hair is [seen as] beautiful’.”
I always wear my hair curly (I didn't embrace it until after college). I do it as a reminder of who God created me to be; for inspiration for all the girls out there who are told that they must wear their hair straight. Because "straight hair is beautiful"
“I’ve had to remind myself this is ministry and this is God’s work in moments when I️ feel like I'm not doing enough.”
Get off the sidelines and join the movement.
Become an Urban Ally and #FUNDTHEFUTURE