UYWI IS MORE THAN AN AMAZING RESOURCE TOOL.
UYWI IS MOST DEFINITELY FAMILY.
My name is Eric and since the age of eighteen I have been an URBAN YOUTH WORKER. It’s crazy to think that working with young people would be the thing that would define what I do and love.
My wife Shawana and I serve young people in East Oakland, California, where our statistics for poverty, violent crimes, diabetes and obesity are soaring. We have the highest rates of crime in America! Our community is ethnically and socio-economically diverse, and we face VERY REAL challenges that feel overwhelming. But we have HOPE for the future of our city. We have GREAT EXPECTATIONS of giving youth and families HOPE through the GOSPEL and healthy practical life options. UYWI has helped to sustain us as we serve this amazing community.
My first encounter with UYWI was the National Conference in 2005 at Azusa Pacific University, where I first realized that I’M NOT ALONE IN URBAN MINISTRY. I realized that my family and I weren’t crazy, but connected to God and a bigger community that wants to bring HOPE to places that people have written off and forgotten about.
My family and I do ministry together. We have two boys, Jadyn (11) and Justyce (6). My family is my #1 ministry. I was encouraged in this from UYWI. I have resources to help me love and care for urban youth. UYWI is a toolbox. I have a desire for sustainable relationships withing my city and am learning how to mentor and lead the leaders around me. I learned this from UYWI. I see the big picture of being holistically healthy. I know that character matters. I must have a spiritual rhythm. Yep, also influenced by UYWI. I should continually check my priorities. I’m supposed to be the same guy at home and in front of people. If these two don’t line up, then I will change it. Read, study and learn. I’ve learned this from UYWI.
For the last year my wife and I have been part of the 90° Certification cohort here in Oakland/Bay Area. Withing our last 17 years of ministry, this program has been the most practical and challenging! I have grown in many areas of my life, particularly understanding my personal values, community engagement, personal soul care and other core competencies of an effective youth ministry.
Because of God using UYWI we have not given up on the wonderful opportunity to be apart of what Jesus is doing in our community. Pray for us as we continue to humbly serve leaders, students and families.
Sequoyah Community Church, Oakland CA
“I’ve known Eric for almost a decade. He’s one of the most teachable leaders I’ve ever met. His calling to urban ministry is deep and sincere.” Larry Acosta