Youth Development Academy


I discovered my passion for creative writing in 1994. It was a gift that I didn’t realize I had—in the midst of a family culture that bred nurses, engineers and doctors. I didn’t know what else to do, but to write.

And so, writing is what I did.

I wrote streams of consciousness when I woke up in the morning. I drafted short stories during science class. I scored sonnets and haikus while waiting to sub in during basketball games. I composed spoken word pieces while watching after school cartoons (they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to). I sketched verbal paintings in my journals. I doodled verses and phrases at dinner time.

My life was attached to my pen and my pad.

It was also then that I was on the verge of graduating from my senior year of high school and, ironically, my future was quite ambiguous. I hadn’t planned on going to college and I had no concrete direction for my life. I contemplated trade school because I knew traditional education wasn’t my path of choice. I toyed with the idea of simply finding a full-time job.

Even with a passion for writing, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what my future was going to look like. I didn’t know my purpose in life.

Well, fast forwarding in hyper speed to the present time, with a journalism/creative writing degree in hand, a renewed relationship with God coupled with a pastoral ordination to my credit, and a discovered love for my city, I look back over the past 18 years of my life and realize I wouldn’t trade the fact that I was lost for anything.

In my oblivious season, I was found.

My significance was secured. God knocked on my door. My direction was defined. Incidentally, my purpose found me.

And I embraced it.

It’s my guess that had I had everything all figured out, I would have, perhaps, been on a journey that was counter to who I was supposed to be. Had I not embraced my lost identity and worked to navigate through the dark journey of meaning, I’d probably be bored out of my mind as an electrical engineer somewhere (no offense to my engineering friends). Had I not embraced my state of confusion, I probably wouldn’t be living a life fulfilled today that’s packed with adventure, purpose, risk, and joy.

And it all began with a discovered gift of creative writing. Creative writing was a dormant gift that needed to be awakened in me. Creative writing became the catalyst that drove me forward.

It’s in my discovered purpose that another discovery was found.

Throughout my journey to discover who I was supposed to be, it became very clear that I wasn’t alone. Others were lost with me. I encountered other sojourners and life wanderers of different educational and vocational backgrounds looking for meaning and purpose. Interesting enough, we all, no matter how different our careers were and would become, creative writing helped us to discover who we were meant to be. And, even more so, I realized that generations and generations behind me would be saturated with similar life purpose-seekers. In my self-discovery, I also discovered a passion to pour back into the wave of younger lost minds looking to find themselves and to make a difference.

So, it’s been my life journey, these past few years, to use my passion for creative writing to help others extract their dormant creativeness to help them discover who they’re supposed to be. I’m not saying creative writing is a catch all formula meant as a prerequisite in order for everyone to discover their meaning. But being able to articulate your visions and dreams on paper helps a whole lot.

I’m excited to return to this summer’s Youth Development Academy. My desire is to help the community, more specifically, our beloved middle school students across the Greater South Bay, to discover their dormant creative writing gifts by introducing them to writing practices and techniques that’ll help them cultivate a life of continual discovery. And, in that context, I also look to intertwine the importance of community care by helping the students to utilize creative writing as a catalyst for generating ideas on how to give back.

Creative writing.

Community.

It all comes together.

Change

In our efforts to be religious, we’ve missed the mark of embracing people with the love of Jesus. We’re so caught up in disproving other religions and proving that Christianity is the way, we forget that we’re actually dealing with people. We see another stat to add to our conversion data chart instead of seeing a person with actual needs, including the need for Jesus’ rescue.

Ephesians 4:1-2 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Paul says we ought to follow the example of God and walk as Jesus did. In verse 2, Paul reminds the Ephesian church that Christ loved us to death. Jesus “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Meaning to say, that Jesus’ love had legs. His love had action. He wasn’t concerned with making sure “religion” was followed to a “T.” In fact, Jesus was uprooting “religion” as everyone knew it to be and “showing” what religion ought to be, in love. Paul also mentions that Jesus’ selfless act was a fragrant offering. In short, he means to say that Jesus’ work and service for us was sweet. It was a beautiful act of rescue that no one could argue with its purity.

And we ought to follow suit.

And so, in the verses that follow, Paul gives some input as to how we ought to live that’ll reflect Christ in us. At the core, it’s about living in obedience because living in disobedience will produce “darkness.” What it boils down to is, not necessarily avoiding the bad, but focusing on living as Christ did, which had everyone else’s best interest in mind. Because what will begin to happen, as we live in love and allow His Spirit to live and breathe in us, we won’t have time to exercise that which is opposite to God’s call.

We’ll be focused on Him and the things of Him that our lives will begin to change from the inside out.

How about you? Thoughts?

Let’s talk.