This week’s intern spotlight is on Martell Hixson, Youth Developer at Oasis of Hope. With a passion to see the youth in urban cultures see themselves as they have been created, Martell dedicates himself to establishing a presence in their lives incarnationally. I asked Martell to share his thoughts on youth ministry and what does he hope to see happen in the lives of our city’s youth.
I grew up on the west side of Chicago in a very poor and violent neighborhood. As a teen without a dad, I went about starving for attention and identity. My mom struggled with drug addiction and the responsibility to care for our entire family. Christian workers moved into our neighborhood to plant a church when I was sixteen. They held weekly bible studies and volunteered with the schools and organizations in our community. I saw how they engaged their friendships and family in formal and informal settings. Their availability and intentionality radically changed my life and saved me from a life of destruction. I wanted to be the same thing for the community God has sent me to love and serve as they were for me. I soon developed a passion to help young men and women from the urban context discover a life of freedom and purpose through Jesus.
Called to Memphis
I moved to Memphis to receive training for ministry in the urban context. I had no idea that the city of Memphis would become my home. The way ministries and organization work together to impact the city has change the way I think about urban revitalization. I told God that I would be in Memphis for nine months, but God saw fit for me to be here for nearly nine years!
I work with an organization called Oasis of Hope. It’s a ministry that serves an economically distressed community in North Memphis. As the youth developer for Oasis, I’m responsible for developing young leaders who will serve their community for the sake of its transformation. Everyday I come face to face with the reality that programs alone are inadequate to produce the transformation I pray to see. I must grow as a leader. My need to grow has caused many feelings of being alone in an impossible fight.
Growing in Community
Being a part of SOUL has helped me to have greater success in my ministry. They take on a philosophy that advocate for a personalized training experience. I’ve grown as a leader due to SOUL providing a context to learn from other experienced practitioners in my field of work. The relationships I’ve developed with SOUL staff and the other leaders in the program have helped me to overcome difficulties that I thought were impossible to solve. I no longer feel alone as I serve my community. SOUL has provided coaching and a system of support that had made me grow in my confidence that I can make an impact! I’m thankful to God for how He’s using SOUL in my life and in the city of Memphis!