Dream of Destiny is delighted to share the experience of one of its first internship grant recipients, Josiah Javier. In today’s post, Josiah gives us a candid glimpse into his summer internship at Sandusky Avenue Christian Church in Tulsa, OK.
My summer at Sandusky Avenue Christian Church in Tulsa, OK, was an experience of incredible personal growth and learning. When I walked through the doors of the youth minister’s house on May 17th, I had little clue of what I was getting into. I knew I was doing a youth ministry internship with students of all different backgrounds. I didn’t know the majority of the students were from broken homes.
I learned of parents who had walked out or had taken their own lives, incarcerated fathers, mothers in halfway houses, unjustly murdered siblings, and other siblings who are drug dealers. The stuff I’d only seen in movies was the harsh reality of these kids – and a wake-up call to my own naivete.
The summer started off with connecting with kids in the schools around Tulsa and quickly transitioned into awesome summer camps. I learned many of the stories from the youth in the early part of the summer. It didn’t take long to get close to many of them. The youth group was a “no drama” youth group. It was a youth group where kids don’t date within the group and nobody seems to dislike anyone else. It was also a welcoming youth group, making it easy to approach each of the kids individually at one point or another.
And it wasn’t just a ministry to youth, as I had thought. I had no clue when the summer began that I would accompany the youth minister in his hospice work, visiting multiple people on their deathbeds each week. I knew I was doing a youth ministry internship, but I didn’t expect to end up accompanying the youth minister in chaplaincy work, going on DOA (Dead On Arrival) runs with the Tulsa Police Department. I knew I was doing a youth ministry internship, but I didn’t expect to meet with incarcerated youth whose charges ranged from assault to first degree murder, and then see nine of those same youth baptized into new life. I knew I was doing a 10-week youth ministry internship; I didn’t know all of the things I would experience in a short amount of time.
One of my favorite stories from this summer was from one of the young girls in the youth group named Angie, who was competing in a race that the church camp hosts. Angie started the race strong, keeping up with some of the seemingly more fit guys. As the race progressed, Angie noticed one of the young girls from another youth group was falling behind. The other girl had been bitten by something and was going to drop out of the race. Angie quickly made a deal with her saying that if she continued on, Angie would stay back with her until they finished the remainder of the race. Though they finished in the back, the testimony of her story has stayed with me. Angie’s faith in action reminded me of the Scripture in Hebrews 12 that says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Angie helped that girl on with her race. She helped bear her burden. Those who completed the race before them and were standing at the finish line were there to attest to the joy of the two girls finishing together, and what an accomplishment it was.
For ten weeks, my internship felt like an opportunity to come alongside students during a part of their own race. From reading stories in the Bible that some never knew existed, to watching several baptisms take place, the youth of this incredible church learned to put one foot in front of the other and see the journey of their faith— the race marked before them. I got to watch that happen. I didn’t create heart change, but God let me be a part of witnessing His work, and He let me give a testimony of what He’s done in my life.
I’ve seen the effects of the Holy Spirit and the change He brings to those desperate for something more – something eternal. I’ve also felt a sense of desperation for kids who
do not choose Jesus, or walk away from the faith – learning that I can’t do anything about it; that no matter how much I try, only Jesus can bring a change in heart.
The rest of the summer concluded with CIY, VBS, and a few small trips and small-group meetings or hang-outs. Each time, I was reminded of why I do what I do. Somehow God lets me share my gifts, abilities and talents for His glory. And though through this internship I’ve seen and witnessed firsthand the brokenness of this world and what sin can destroy, His redemptive plan is at work. And all in all, I have received further affirmation that ministry to youth is what I am to do in this season of my life— if not the entirety of it. I’m excited to for it.
I am thankful for organizations like Dream of Destiny for partnering in seeing God draw people of all colors, backgrounds and cultures to Himself – even if that means sponsoring one ministry student at time who shares that same vision. Thank you for your gift and God bless you!
About Josiah Javier
Josiah Javier, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, begins his junior year at Ozark Christian College this month. He will be serving as an Admissions counselor for the college and is active in the youth ministry at Central City Christian Church in Joplin, Missouri. Josiah is studying to be a youth minister, and he wants to use his passion for hip-hop, preaching and sports to serve underprivileged youth, sharing with them the hope of Christ.
“Thank you, Dream of Destiny partners, for this opportunity,” says Josiah. “Because of your generosity, I’m able to gain experience in ministry this summer and still be able to afford school in the fall. It is an honor to know of your willingness to invest in students training for ministry. For real… thank you!”