As a youth ministry and sociology major, ’98 alumnus Nate Landis always had a passion to spread the gospel. This passion led him to found Urban Youth Collaborative in San Diego, Calif.
“I knew I wanted to do youth ministry,” Landis said. While at Eastern, he started going to churches in the inner city and felt called to urban ministry. Landis valued Eastern’s mission statement and his professors at Eastern. “Tony (Campolo) and Duffy (Robbins) had the biggest impact on my life,” Landis said. He still keeps in touch with Campolo.
“Evangelism, peace and social action have to go together,” Landis said.
Landis combined all of these things when he founded Urban Youth Collaborative. Urban Youth Collaborative strives to build a bridge between local churches and public schools throughout San Diego. The organization places youth pastors or adults committed to Christ in schools to act as mentors and tutors. “There is a need for positive tutoring and discipleship relationships with kids,” Landis said.
Urban Youth Collaborative reaches 700 kids a week at 19 different campuses. They currently reach every high school in the San Diego Unified School District. This first started by partnering with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to hold a lunch club once a week. Urban Youth Collaborative has to be invited to a school and all meetings must be optional, student-led and held during non-instructional time in order for them to talk about Jesus.
However, there are some mandatory school assemblies that Urban Youth Collaborative will be holding soon. At these assemblies they cannot talk about Jesus, but they will focus on good decision making.
As an Eastern student, Landis was very involved in the community on and off campus. He participated in ministry-oriented groups such as Transformed and YACHT. Landis also interned at Church of the Savior and Columbia Baptist Church in Washington DC. He was a campus leader as vice president of his junior class and the co-president of the outdoors club.
After he finished his education at Eastern, Landis went on to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. “Academically, (Eastern) prepared me well,” Landis said. “I felt ready.” He is currently finishing up work on his doctorate in theology, ethics and culture at Claremont Graduate University’s School of Religion.
Urban Youth Collaborative uses a five C strategy: catering, club, camp, church and community. The organization provides food kits for students and feeds football teams during their most intense week of training. Free pizza is given out during student-led lunch clubs that are held in the participating schools each week. Urban Youth Collaborative also sends kids to camp. Last year, 100 kids went to camp through the program. They strive to connect students to local churches as well. “We want our students to be leaders in their communities,” Landis said.
Landis’ life verse is John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Urban Youth Collaborative assists students with health, job training, faith and decision making. “Our five-year dream is to see each of the 100 junior high and high school campuses in the district adopted (become a part of the ministry),” Landis said.
Landis found his calling at Eastern and actively works to better the lives of others through Urban Youth Collaborative.
“Find the place where the world’s greatest need and your greatest passion as an Eastern student meet, that would be your calling,” Landis said.