For the most part, you would find Wayne reading a book, sketching different comic book creatures, or working on homework on his own at Garnet ASP. Sitting at the 1st-grade table, Wayne would stick to himself, get homework help when needed, and then head home.
As a promoting sixth grader, Wayne was first introduced to IMPACT. Matt Anderson, Solidarity’s IMPACT Manager, was excited to be paired up with Wayne because he was so curious to see who Wayne was when he entered into a community and belonged to something much larger than himself.
Students who pass levels of IMPACT get access to camps throughout the year as well as one-on-one mentoring. Since Wayne was in level one, he got to go to a three-day urban youth winter camp called The Oaks. As his mentor, Matt encouraged him to take a risk and go, because it was an opportunity to change Wayne’s life. After speaking with Wayne’s parents and describing the camp in detail, Wayne and his family felt like it would be good for him to go.
Although Wayne was excited to go, the details stressed him out. Where would they sleep? What would they eat? Who were his roommates? What about the bus? And even though so many things seem to say stay home, something deep inside insisted he should take that risk and go.
For one reason or another God had been moving in Matt to be a safe place for people to take risks for the first time. In Matt’s mind, taking a risk that God has for you “is a way to grow you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And it has the chance to drastically change your life for the better.” Matt’s story was testament to the goodness of taking risks with God. As a young college student, he and his brother felt that God was calling them to move into the Garnet neighborhood. Just two Texas twins, moving away from friends and a secure place, to enter into a gang-driven neighborhood where they didn’t share the same culture, ethnicity, or upbringing as any of their neighbors. Yet as Matt reflects back, he knows that “the decision to move into Garnet changed my life.”
As a mentor, Matt realized that he was a safe person to help others take risks, Wayne included.
At camp, Wayne opened up in a way that shocked most of the staff and leaders. Maybe for the first time in his life, Wayne felt like a part of something. He got along with his cabin mates, he enjoyed sleeping in the cabin with everyone else, and he took risks and tried paintball and laser tag for the first time as a community.
Ever since that 3 day weekend, Wayne has talked about returning to the Oaks. Matt has never seen Wayne more “willing to receive and participate in community” than ever before. He got a taste of what it looks like to belong to a Christ-centered community and was changed by taking that initial risk.