While Urban Concern has evolved in significant ways as a ministry since its original inception in 1991, one thing has remained its constant stamp: A vision to develop a new generation of leaders for our community and the local church.
This year, a brand new Youth Ministry Internship has been created in order to help qualified alumni take a major step forward in their desire to lead for God by equipping them with valuable training in ministry and providing meaningful opportunities for them to put this training into work.
Youth Ministry Director Brandon Grant, who is overseeing the internship, has worked for years with the hope of being able to create a formal training program for Harambee alumni who want to lead. Not only are the resources now available, but there are also many Harambee alumni who are qualified, capable, and passionate about filling this role.
We’re excited to announce that Dominique Hawkins has been selected as the first ever alum to take on this important role!
Dom, who is now 24, came to Christ in the 8th grade after graduating Harambee and attending Calumet Christian School. (At the time, Harambee only served students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.) After reading more about God on a camping trip with his class, Dom made the decision to place his faith in Jesus.
Dom’s mother enrolled him in Harambee for Kindergarten, where Mrs. Cleary became his first teacher. Going to school wasn’t always easy for Dom, however, because like many he experienced bullying. However, Harambee afforded him the opportunity he enjoyed most about school, which was to read and learn more about Jesus.
Having been a part of the high school and college ministries at Xenos Christian Fellowship, Dom developed a burden to help others from tougher backgrounds. After talking with Brandon Grant about returning to Harambee to serve as a leader, Dom knew he couldn’t pass it up: “I saw this as a good opportunity to learn leadership skills and and how to lead without a title in a behind the scenes role.”
What made Brandon confident that he’d be a good fit? “I’ve known Dom for some time now, and I’ve always admired his willingness to stand apart from the crowd and commit himself to the things he’s passionate about, namely, being a follower of Jesus Christ. Dom is someone whom the students can look up to. He has experienced many ups and downs in life, yet has decided to go all out for God which is amazing!”
On what he hopes Dom gets out of serving in his new role, Brandon says, “I desire to see Dom become a mature man of God and someone the students he serves look up to. Dom is an “all in” kind of person and this is very important in serving students who specifically lack male role models, especially ones who are willing to stick it out with them week in and week out.” To those ends, Dom has been serving weekly in a junior high boys Bible study and in Harambee’s After School Program.
What are Dom’s personal goals for participating in the internship? “I’m eager to build good friendships with Harambee students, as well as being able to reflect more on my internal life and how I can be fully used by God in His Kingdom.”
Dom’s already well on his way to being a good friend to Harambee students. Harambee 6th grader, Michael Watson, who gets the privilege of riding with Dom to Bible study every Sunday, appreciates him for many reasons: “Mr. Dom is always kind to us and shows good sportsmanship when we play basketball together. We also like the same kind of music. I am grateful that he prays for us.”
Dom is on track to be a part of The Fantastic 50 – 50 Harambee alumni who are pursuing college or career and participating in discipleship in the local church by 2025. Join us in praying for Dom as he continues to serve in this important new role.
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Since school kicked off in July, there’s been a buzz growing around Sunday’s weekly Renegade Bible study. Now, more and more Harambee students are joining their friends to see what the buzz is all about.
We caught up with some regular attendees and those who are new to the meeting to hear what they had to say:
Renegade has been so much fun. I love the teachings about God, and it has helped me to learn how to trust in God. Some of my favorite parts have been the discussion groups after the teaching, where we can ask questions about what we learned to understand it better. I love to talk about God to my friends and other people. Eating the dinner at the end makes me feel like I am eating with my family.
– Guadalupe, 4th grade
My favorite thing about Renegade is being able to participate during the teachings. My experience has been great at Renegade, and I like that I get to learn more about God. I love playing basketball with my friends and also when we have pizza for dinner!
– Rahzeir, 5th grade:
Playing games at Renegade is so fun! I like to learn about God and how He made the Earth. If my friends wanted to come out, I would tell them to come so that they can learn about God’s story.
– Ernest, Kindergarten
I love learning about Jesus dying on the cross for me. My favorite thing about Renegade is all the good food I get to eat! If I had a chance to tell a friend about coming to Renegade, I would tell them that it is a fun place to go!
– Jace, 2nd grader
I love how fun the teachings are. The teachers always use funny pictures in their teachings that make me laugh. My favorite story has been David and Jonathan and their story on being friends.
– Noel, 4th grader
I love that we talk about the Bible. My favorite teaching has been about God’s suffering and how he understands our suffering. Playing mat ball has to be one of my favorite games that we play. The hot dogs are really good too. If I were to tell someone about renegade, I would tell them come to Harambee, where you can make friends, and it’s the best place to learn about God.
– Jazelle, 5th grade:
Becoming a Renegade
Renegade runs on volunteers at every level, from meal providers to Bible study leaders. The meeting also depends on the prayer of those committed to seeing at-risk youth overcome challenges and thrive as lifelong followers of Christ.
To learn more about supporting the work taking place at Renegade, contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 614.291.0885 ex. 4140.
Calculating what it takes to see students thrive
Since January of this year, UC & Harambee’s leadership team has benefitted from Entrepreneurial Operating System (or EOS) training. This training has sharpened and challenged the team in valuable ways that will help our students, staff, and school thrive. We look forward to sharing more about our experience in the future.
One outcome of this training has been the development of what is called our Proven Process. What does Harambee offer that sets it apart from other schools? We believe there are three vital components to our formula for success.
Old school Xenos members who haven’t attended a recent youth meeting may not realize how much different the church looks today than it did in the early days when pastors Dennis McCallum and Gary Delashmutt were sporting bell bottoms and rocking out to Freebird. Today, Student Ministries is home to a diverse group of young people from a variety of cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
But “Urban Ministry” can be an ambiguous term that means different things to different people and churches. Tim Keller’s book Center Church notes, “Cities increasingly influence our global culture and affect the way we do ministry. With a positive approach toward our culture, we learn to affirm that cities are wonderful, strategic, and underserved places for gospel ministry.” However, it’s no doubt that inner city Columbus neighborhoods bear little resemblance to the Manhattanite context from which Keller writes.
When we talk about urban ministry in Xenos, we are talking primarily about ministry to students and families who are low-income and under-resourced. As indicated by our own census and the extensive opportunity mapping done by OSU’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity, urban neighborhoods like South Linden, Weinland Park, and Franklinton, among others, rank lowest in the city for various opportunity indicators including Housing & Neighborhood, Transportation & Employment, Health & Safety, and Education.
Yet, hundreds of students from these neighborhoods attend Xenos affiliated Bible studies each week!
The “Why” of Urban Ministry
Why is it important for the church to take urban ministry seriously? Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God leaves no gray area in expressing his special concern for the poor. Not only is serving the poor commanded (Deuteronomy 15:10), Christians are to advocate and seek justice regarding the very systems of oppression that contributes to their poverty – both economic & spiritual. The result of such effort? Blessing for those we work with and blessing for the church at large (Isaiah 58:6-11).
Likewise, the Lord Jesus, himself, went to great lengths to self-identify with the poor and chose the oppressed as specific recipients of his favor and blessing through the Gospel (Luke 4:16-19).
Why do urban ministry? As the church, we affirm that what’s important to God is important to us. And secondly, we are merely trying to keep up with the direction God himself seems to be leading at Xenos!
Academic triumphs, high school graduates, and the pursuit of The Fantastic 50
Click here to read the full Annual Report, and see below to learn about next steps you can take to get involved in God’s work in our city.
The impact of our first Harambee Scholarship Fundraising Dinner & Celebration
How does Harambee Christian School raise funds for inner-city youth? A night of celebrating, advocacy, and delicious barbecue. Now that’s a fundraising dinner, Harambee style.
The first ever Harambee Scholarship Fundraising Dinner & Celebration saw a packed house of 225 guests donate a total of $21,450 in one time contributions and an additional $1,280 in monthly pledges in support of students & families in need. This amount covers five full year-round scholarships!
Thanks to our generous corporate sponsor, Plaskolite, and our individual table sponsors, 100% of these contributions will go towards providing students with opportunities for academic excellence and personal thriving at Harambee Christian School.
We didn’t JUST raise funds, however! Because when that many people are passionate about God’s heart for students (and delicious barbecue), you also have to celebrate! We were pleased not only to celebrate the remarkable academic results of Harambee youth but also two cherished members of the Harambee family.
It’s one thing to quote from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech” on your Twitter account once a year. It’s another to vulnerably share your own hopes and dreams in front of an audience of close family and peers.
But this is just what Harambee middle school students did at the first ever Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner, held the evening before his celebrated holiday.
How did students take to such a noble yet daunting task? According to Brandon Grant, Youth Ministry Director, ” Several of our students were nervous about sharing the things they are passionate about with their closest loved ones present. They shared a side of themselves that others might not see every day. They confronted their fears, and every one of them smiled at the applause they received – it felt good to them.”
A Parent’s Inspiration
Harambee parent, Quintessa Atchley, who attended the event after a long day hadn’t expected that she’d need a Kleenex by the end of the first speech. “O nce the first student hit the podium and began to recite the words he prepared, the tears started flowing.”
The students and their speeches made a profound impact on her: “That night I gained perspective. These children are not blind to the adversity that ails their parents, their peers, their society, and ultimately tries to derail their aspirations. These students are equipped and aware of the fight that they face. And from that night, from my son’s speech, and from the words spoken by his peers, I learned that they will need each other, and they need adults willing and prepared to pour into their lives so that they can execute the powerful dreams spoken of. I left the event with enough energy to run a marathon, although I would never run a marathon…maybe if I dream it.”
A Student’s Preparation
It takes a lot of courage and preparation to share your dreams. Ms. Atchley worked with her son, Rayquan, to make the most of the experience. She helped him look for inspiration and prepare by listening to what other students his age had to say about Dr. King while watching YouTube videos.
The finished result was powerful and moving. In her own words, “To know that our children are not oblivious to what is going on around them is huge. It tells the story of a seed being planted and sprouting inside of them. ”
The Impact of Sharing
Contemplating the impact preparing and delivering these speeches has had on the students, Brandon shares, “This experience has given them confidence in sharing their innermost thoughts with others. It made me realize that it’s important to give our youth more opportunities to share what they are thinking and to lead in these ways.”
What kind of impact has Ms. Quintessa noticed from her son beginning to develop his dreams for the future while attending Harambee? “Attending Harambee and having male teachers and administrators that model the walk of Christ is making all the difference. Some I see here and there, but like the planting of any seed, we see the fruit in its season. I am confident that he is growing – that he is making a difference in his friends life just as they are making a difference in his. As long as he continues this trajectory he and his peers are going to yield good fruit.”
A Student’s Dream
Excerpts from an I Have A Dream Speech
by Londale, Harambee 8th grade
I have a dream.
I want to be known as the man of God who spreads life.
Not a man with children without a wife.
God lives in me.
God talks through me.
As the Bible said God is with thee.
God is almighty.
God is powerful.
At the blink of an eye he can make a tower fall.
When I die I want my family to know,
My expectations for me were high.
When He was crucified He said, “Father forgive them.”
So now when I spread the Word,
I spread Him.
We will be hosting our first ever Harambee Scholarship Fundraising Dinner & Celebration on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018, and we would love to partner with you as a table host and/or sponsor.
The event is set to be held at the Café at Xenos Christian Fellowship’s main campus, with a special dinner being served up by local Linden favorites, The Pit BBQ Grille.
- Hosting a table simply involves attending the event, yourself, and inviting up to seven others to join you as guests.
- Sponsoring a table involves making a $150 donation in order for a table of eight guests to attend the event at no cost.
Both hosting and sponsoring are simple and impactful ways to help Harambee raise thousands of dollars in support of at risk youth. You can play just one or both of these important roles! We’re looking to recruit up to 28 hosts & sponsors.
The Harambee Scholarship Fund helps low income youth receive a high quality education and invaluable mentoring for life. Students thrive not only academically but personally as they engage daily with the Bible and the love of Christ shared by committed Christian teachers, Bible study leaders, and mentors.
To RSVP or serve as a host and/or sponsor, contact Michael Larson by emailing email@example.com or calling 614.291.0885 ex. 4140.
Harambee Students Outpace Urban & Suburban Peers on 2016-17 Test
We are excited to report that Harambee students not only outperformed local public schools and higher performing charter schools. They also achieved a higher performance index than Reynoldsburg, Hilliard and Westerville school districts.
This is a remarkable achievement since 85% of Harambee students are from low-income households.
More than an education
We are grateful to see Harambee students thriving academically, but we also know that test scores only show one piece of a much larger picture. Many caring staff and volunteers of faith view it as their privilege to not only educate our students but also impact them for Christ. Our prayer is that students thrive in every way – academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our vision is that these young people become a new generation of leaders for our community the local church.
Seeing students grow as servant leaders is a highlight for many at Harambee and part of what makes their academic success so sweet. Middle School Math teacher, Michael Harvin, observes this regularly in and out of the classroom: “I am always impressed with the eagerness students have to pray for each other in the 7th & 8th grades. It is not uncommon when I ask for one or two student volunteers to pray that almost the entire class will pray. Their prayers are thoughtful, compassionate and others focused.” We will be compassionate servant leaders following the example of Jesus, reads the Harambee Student Declaration.
Former Harambee teacher and current Staff Development Coordinator, Cheryl Hunter, who also helps lead the Renegade29 Bible study, notes the profound impact attending Harambee has had on students she’s invested in over many years at Ren29: “One of the most beautiful things I have noticed is their increased knowledge of the Bible since starting at Harambee. They are confident in sharing God’s word and what He has taught them with their friends at Ren29. It has been a blessing to watch them grow academically AND spiritually.”
Character counts, and the impact of incorporating the timeless teachings of Scripture in the classroom is helping students develop not just as scholars but as compassionate citizens, advocates, allies, and leaders.
The Fantastic 50
Because we are concerned with the whole student, our goal is to help raise up 50 young people who have graduated high school, who are pursuing college or career, and who are participating in discipleship in the local church.
This is a big undertaking but one we believe is possible thanks to God’s unlimited resources and power. In order to reach this goal, our students are going to need a network of healthy relationships and influence. Teachers, mentors, Bible study leaders, tutors, prayer partners, and donors all play a role in reaching and empowering the whole student. What role has he given you?
Has God given you a heart to serve & support Columbus inner city youth? Help us reach the Fantastic 50. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can get involved.
Friends & Family of Harambee Christian School,
We’re excited to share two upcoming opportunities to support Harambee youth in the month of October!
Make a Gift During The Big Give on 10/10
What is The Big Give?
Gifts made to Urban Concern & Harambee Christian School through The Columbus Foundation’s website on October 10th will be amplified by The Columbus Foundation. The Foundation is covering all credit card fees, so 100% of your gift goes directly to supporting Harambee youth, in addition to the prorata increase!
Help us spread the word by sharing our Big Give Facebook event!
Treat Yourself to Harambee Imports coffee at our upcoming Coffee & Canvas event
Whether you participate in The Big Give or not, you’re invited to learn more about what God is doing at our school while treating yourself to coffee from our student run business, Harambee Imports.
What is Harambee’s Back to School Coffee & Canvas event?
At this short and sweet event, students will be serving up their own delicious blend of Harambee Imports coffee & baked goods, along with meaningful works of art that reflect the heart of our school.
Guests will walk away with a better understanding of what God is doing at our school and how they can get involved. There is no cost to participate!
To RSVP, simply respond to this email. You can also help us spread the word online by linking to our Facebook event.