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Brighter Day Ministries connects Philly high school students to mentors, Christ

The recent evening of worship presented by Brighter Day Ministries reached more than just Eastern students.

Within the audience during that April 3 service were students from West Philadelphia High School. This was not the first time many of these students had been on campus.

During the weekend of February 21, many members of WPHS’s gospel choir came out for a preview weekend. They had been invited by BDM in an attempt to forge a strong and growing relationship.

Jamal Vann, a leader in BDM, along with the support of Dr. Leonard Jamison, Vice President of University relations at EU and founder of BDM, began the relationship with WPHS in order to build on the purpose of BDM itself.

“The goal is to establish relations with the students, particularly with the choir, to help them get through high school successfully; be successful Christians,” Vann said.

This mentoring relationship is a fulfillment of Jamison’s plans for BDM to pass mentorship from one group to another.

“I do, you watch, you help. Then, you do, I help, I watch,” he said. “The program is about getting the focus of young adults off of themselves and their navel area, looking for their own lint.”

Vann became interested in the choir when they sang at BDM’s anniversary service in February.

“I could see they were youth crying out for help. They needed someone to embrace them,” he said.

At that point, Vann contacted the choir director, Cynthia Weaver, and explained his desire to help. BDM went to the school to meet the choir, and then invited them to Eastern for the February weekend.

Weaver called the partnership a blessing.

“They have supported everything we do as far as concerts. You name it, they show up,” she said.

From the weekend the students spent at Eastern, to the choral classes that some BDM mentors attend, to the service they attended on April 3, the relationship has flourished. BDM also plans to have monthly Bible studies and small group interaction, according to Vann.

Though the students could not stay the whole time April 3, that night, the February weekend and the advice from mentor Kevin Ruff has impacted them.

“It has uplifted my soul,” choir member Christin Williams said of her relationships with BDM members.

The mentors of BDM have also been changed.

“[The partnership] permits me to be an example to people who don’t know Christ,” EU first year Sabrina Hudson said.

After the February weekend, three choir members came to know Christ, according to Weaver.

The April 3 worship service consisted of worship led by BDM, a monologue on Christ’s forgiveness by Ernestine Vann, rap by her husband Jamal and by Gospel rap artist Purpose (Ihsan Hines), prayer from Jamison and an altar call.

Weaver said about the evening of worship, “From start to finish, you all opened your arms to us. It was a welcoming spirit. During the worship, the Spirit was there.”

Ruff said about the opportunities for growth from now on, “the sky’s the limit.”

Jamison has seen the chances at change. “We are making disciples,” he said. “Everyone needs to reach their 12, or at least two or three.”

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