Empowered for Purpose
My journey into urban ministry began in the late ‘90s, when I ended up homeless, living on the streets of Seattle. Little did I know at the time that God had plans to use that time to empower me for His purpose.
I lived in a number of rescue missions and inside a transitional housing facility. I realize now that it was during this time that God was equipping me to serve Him in urban ministry. I was a new and naive Christian believer, and I experienced the wisdom and grace of many godly men and women who were in poverty. It was these men and women who demonstrated how to walk as a follower of Christ.
Now, I serve as a TUMI (The Urban Ministry Institute) Topeka student, and an intern chaplain at the Shawnee County Jail where I mentor men through the TUMI program. I focus on preparing them for ministry inside the jail and ministry for when they are released.
It has been a great joy of mine to visit and fellowship with other men inside the jail and study the Bible and TUMI together. I have witnessed firsthand the joy of meeting men inside the jail who share their stories of being made new. They once lived a life of horrendous crime, but now they are committed followers of Jesus Christ and they see the jail as their mission field.
I believe there is a desperate and legitimate need for the church to empower and train up Christian leaders not only in our urban cities, but also inside our jails. As the culture of our cities is interwoven in the American jail system, it is important for us to meet these men and women who are in jail, literally where they are at. There is something very sobering about being in jail, and it can be felt and is evident by the hunger for God that is expressed by the men and women who are incarcerated.
I believe TUMI is important because it is a ministry that is specifically geared and directed to reach and educate the urban poor in our cities. The urban poor can be difficult to reach, whether due to a lack of resources that prohibits them from attending church functions in the suburban environment or the stigma that divides and discourages fellowship between economic and social classes. Raising up indigenous Christian leaders inside the urban environment is of utmost importance in our cities. As we see throughout Scripture, the care for the poor and the raising of leaders among the poor (James 2:5) are important to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.