Meet Jarvis, one of the students whose life has been forever changed by the love of Christ through GRIP’s ministry.
Eighteen-year-old Jarvis Buchanan is no stranger to challenges. Growing up in a single-parent household, he vividly remembers the day thirteen years ago when Child Protective Services came and took custody of him and his nine siblings, sending them to different homes. He remembers getting beat up in school for being the new kid, falling into the wrong crowd, joining a gang, smoking “weed,” and looking for validation in relationships with girls. By age 15, he had already lost five of his closest friends to gun violence.
“I was never suspended from school, but I always got into fights,” he recalls. “I wanted to be tough and mean . . .I joined a gang because they showed me love that no one else would.”
Jarvis also remembers the day when God got a hold of his life and it all began to change. While attending Orr High School on the West Side of Chicago, he met Mitchell, a Christian college student who helped coach track and was also a volunteer at SLAM. “I thought all college students did was drink and party. . . . For some odd reason, his life was so much different than what I was used to and I wanted to know why,” Jarvis says. “Mitch began talking to me about God, the Bible, Jesus, Scriptures, prayer, and things I was aware of but never took into great consideration.”
It was through Mitch that Jarvis met Brian Dye, GRIP’s mentorship director, and started attending SLAM himself. “With these two guys and a host of others—TJ, Eddie, Abel, Manny, and Dan—pouring into me and teaching me about God’s Word, and me asking God to help me understand His word, everything began to come to life. My life was still a massacre; I just knew that God was the only one to look to for help.”
Jarvis began to attend Legacy Fellowship Church, which he now calls “his spiritual family.” And he began to think of life beyond high school, beyond the West Side, and beyond the violence, anger, and dysfunction he was so accustomed to. He discovered his love for writing as an outlet of expression, and began to envision a career as a middle school language arts teacher. In his senior year, Jarvis received the prestigious Golden Apple Scholarship for high school students that want to teach in schools of need.
Last August, Brian and his wife, Heidi, had the privilege of taking Jarvis to Eastern Illinois University, where he is now a freshman studying English. He’s the first in his family to go away to a four-year college. Jarvis is also a part of a student Bible study, and he’s witnessing to others on campus about Christ.“People wonder why I’m not partying and doing the things that they like to do, he says. “It’s opened the door for me to talk about my faith.”
And while he knows he himself if still a work in progress, Jarvis says he finds comfort in being able to look to Christ for all of the answers.
“Gang activity and sex are no longer things that I find great interest in,” he says. “I realize that God has a plan for my life and that I should seek to find myself within Him. . . . I know that with Him all things are possible.”
Have you been encouraged by Jarvis’ story? Let us know by leaving a comment below.