World Impact National Year Review

It is hard to believe that I just recently completed my first year at World Impact. One of the things that I was committed to in this first year was to be the best student of World Impact I could be so that I could tell the story of our transformative work everywhere that I go. Here are some highlights of the amazing things that I witnessed and participated in connected to our 4 Key Focus Areas.

Plant Healthy Urban Churches
My family and I have had the opportunity to attend Bay Area Community Fellowship, one of our church planting partnerships in Oakland, California, on a couple of occasions this year. The pastor, Curtiss Flemming, has also been serving as a World Impact Associate. This Church meets at our Oakland World Impact ministry site. The church body is a mix of community residents, the formerly incarcerated, and future ministry leaders. What was evident during our visits was that these are passionate, transformed, and committed Brothers and Sisters who see the ministry of World Impact in a new way. We are not seen by them simply as an urban missions organization meeting their needs, but as an urban missions organization partnering with them for greater transformation in the community they love.

Develop Missional Partnerships
World Impact was a sponsor and participated in two conferences this year; The 360 Conference put on by the Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) in Southern California and The Flavor Fest Conference put on by Crossover Church in Tampa, Florida. I was honored to be a general session speaker at both conferences. Other World Impact staff led workshops on urban church planting and urban missions. We also partnered with UYWI to host 100 urban youth pastors at our LA Teen Center—to affirm, equip, and provide an atmosphere of peer mentoring. We see many future partnership opportunities in the area of training and church planting with both UYWI and Crossover Church.

Resource Urban Leaders
I attended and spoke in one of the general sessions at The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) Summit held in Wichita, Kansas. TUMI site facilitators and ministry partners from over a hundred sites were in attendance from across the country and around the world. I had many one-on-one conversations that provided a deeper understanding of the thousands of men and women who are being trained for urban ministry leadership. I also heard numerous testimonies from pastors who credit TUMI for giving them essential theological training needed for the ministries they serve today.

Demonstrate Compassion and Justice
I’ve witnessed up close the many ways in which World Impact is being a vehicle of empowerment and extending the love and justice of God. I had the opportunity to visit a TUMI class held in a halfway house for men in Newark, New Jersey. I was honored to share my testimony, but more importantly, I was blessed to hear the testimonies of men who don’t see their present situation as their ultimate destiny. I also had the opportunity to speak at the Middle School graduation ceremony this year at Newark Christian School. I was so impressed by these young heroes for God and also the commitment of their teachers beyond just the classroom. As I visited one of the classrooms, I was so moved by how these students shared about their future dreams and their understanding of the importance of following Christ. There is a connection between these two experiences I had in Newark. First, quality Christian-based education can work to dismantle the pipeline between inner-city communities and incarceration. Second, for those who are incarcerated, there is still an opportunity through theological education and leadership development for a more holistic liberation.