Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Lonely to Leader

Name: John (Owen) Crook
From: Fort Wayne, IN
Grade: Snior
School: Homestead Senior High School
Votes: 609

If you want to have a lasting influence upon the world, you must invest
in people’s lives; and if you want to maximize that investment,
then you must invest in those people while they are young.”

-George Barna

Have you ever felt alone, not just alone, but ALONE? That is how I felt
when my family moved from Alabama to Indiana when I was in the sixth
grade. According to Google Maps the distance between the two cities
was 711.9 miles and my heart felt everyone one of them as we drove
north that day in October of 2009. That was me, lonely and in search
of a place to belong, until I was introduced to AMPD. AMPD is the
middle school ministry of The Chapel, a church in Fort Wayne,
Indiana. I became a member of this ministry as a middle school
student when AMPD and the leaders there filled those voids for me and
gave me the inspiration I needed to embrace my new home and life.
Once in high school I decided that I wanted to be the same kind of
inspiration to someone. I applied to be a leader and now I spend
anywhere from two to six hours a week mentoring the boys in my small
group. We meet every week, as a whole for youth group for two hours
and the rest of the time is one on one after school. It might be a
longboard ride, meeting up at Starbucks, grabbing a bite to eat or
just hanging out. It’s time that I can invest in them, build
relationships with them and hopefully be inspirational to them as
someone once was to me.
I have spent the last three years pouring love, time and friendship
into these young men. When I began this journey I wanted to lead by
example and change lives in a positive way. I have tried to live my
life in a way as to not jeopardize the character in which I have been
encouraging my guys to embrace. Through leading by example and
investing time into the lives of these boys I think I have
accomplished what I set out to do. I have also learned an incredible
amount through my relationships with these kids. I’ve learned that
middle school kids are very capable of love, receiving and giving it.
They just need to know that there is someone in their corner.
learned that the world we live in doesn’t always lend itself to
kids knowing or believing that anyone is on their side. I’ve
learned that this world has some scary stuff in it and that teenagers
are very vulnerable to much of it. They need positive influences in
their lives and that is what I have tried to be. I’ve learned that
loving people is easy if you just invest time into getting to know
them and that investing time into people is the only way to have a
lasting influence in this world.

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