On Thursday May 3rd, the iSSACHAR Center of Urban Leadership graduated its 12th apprenticeship class and celebrated with over 150 people attending the ceremony at Celebration Community Church.
These eight apprentices have dedicated the past two years to growth in their faith, studies and community.
It has been a great privilege to watch these young men and women develop as professionals, followers of Jesus, community servants, students, and friends – all while doing deep internal work that will prepare them to lead for a lifetime.
What is an apprentice?
“Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a structured competency in a basic set of skills. Apprentices are assigned a strict training program so they can gain a set of skills to prepare themselves for their desired trade or a profession in which they wish to pursue a career.” -Wikipedia
Issachar’s apprenticeship program invests in the community, education, and life-long faith of students while asking for a two year, 60-hour/week commitment from those students.
During the program, apprentices live together in apartments, attend college full-time, take part in professional development, volunteer with an organization of their choice, connect current events with scripture in community discussion and also dive deep into their identity with a spiritual autobiography and their faith with a weekly bible study.
It is by no means an “easy” commitment. However, these students continually chose to invest in themselves and the program, and at graduation, we joined other family, friends and partners to celebrate their achievements and the completion of the apprenticeship.
The evening began with an introduction song for each apprentice as they approached the stage and was followed with the opening remarks and prayer by iSSACHAR alumni.
Next, Ardith Duke shared her volunteer experience of working with the apprentices and how it has connected her passion for young adults and inspired her as well. Graduate Bo Perez then gave a 3-minute talk on Fatherlessness, challenging everyone to reach out to someone in their circle.
The leaders of the program then took a moment to share a bit about each apprentice, telling stories of their unique personalities, their growth, and their hopes for the future. Each apprentice then stood before the crowd and thanked all of those who supported them through this journey.
One of the highlights of the evening came after a charge from Anthony Njoroge and mentors sharing a blessing for each apprentice. Each apprentice chose someone whom they wanted to honor through the washing of the feet. Many of them chose family members and friends. The night ended with emotion and prayer as circles gathered around each apprentice.
Students reflected on how Issachar has helped them prepare for the next phase of their journey:
“I have been able to learn more about who I am, but also who I am in Christ. I’m really excited to see what else God has planned for me.” said apprentice Selah Gelinas
Favianna Oropeza was grateful for the focus on helping her define a career path. “I declared my major and gained an internship where I was really able to grow my skills and begin honing my craft in public relations and marketing.”
And Bo Perez said that the program helped him “tighten up on his budget” and “gave me multiple opportunities to face and deal with conflict” – a skill that will be useful throughout all phases of life.
Bold Leadership Inspired by Isaiah
With each generation of leaders comes a calling of bold leadership: leaders who understand the times and know what to do. Passionate and courageous individuals who are willing to take a stand, have an opinion, push limits and do what hasn’t been been done before.
This year at iSSACHAR, there was an emphasis put on bold leadership and the scripture of Isaiah’s commission (Isaiah 6). In Isaiah’s commission we read as Isaiah reflects on his own imperfection and the imperfection of the world he lives in.
Yet, when God asks, “Whom shall I send?”, Isaiah responds, “Here am I, send me!”
Isaiah did not let his shortcomings or his environment determine his heart for God’s call. He boldly used those things to fuel his desire to live out his faith.
Our graduating apprentices have acted just as bold, and we are proud to see them sent out into their communities and the world to live out His word. They have all grown in so many ways, but above all in their faith and as independent young adults. We wish them and all other alumni the best in all the future endeavors, and we hope they always remember that they have a place at iSSACHAR!
May 17, 2018