Time isn’t measured by seasons or week long mission trips with the Urban Eagles. It’s measured in years. The ultimate goal isn’t any different than other MAI ministries, but the time investment and approach are unique.
Six years ago, Ben Page moved into the Grier Heights neighborhood after beginning work with Urban Eagles the year before. This past May, Page held a community event that brought together kids, parents and teachers for fellowship and a chance to look back on the past seven years of Urban Eagles ministry. There, he took time to celebrate the achievement of five young men – Albert, Jeremiah, Ryan, Brandon, and Montray. Working with these boys over the course of several years, Page experienced many ups and downs but their time together ended on an unequivocal high note. At the end of this past school year, all five boys graduated high school. In an area where over forty-percent of students never finish high school, this was a significant achievement for all of them.
Now, they head into exciting new phases of their lives. Two of the boys have military service in their future and the other three will begin college in the fall. Albert is currently in Army boot camp and Brandon has enlisted in the Air Force. Jeremiah will soon be attending classes at Central Piedmont Community College. He will remain involved with Urban Eagles as a coach. Ryan is set to play soccer at Eastern Nazarene College in the fall. Montray recently enrolled at St. Augustine University.
At the event, all six boys were able to share advice to the younger kids, passing on wisdom that they picked up by being a part of Urban Eagles. With a slideshow, everyone in attendance was able to see how much these young men changed over the past few years. For Ben Page, it was also a chance to reflect upon how Urban Eagles has changed over the years. Soccer is now only one of many sources of outreach within Grier Heights and the other neighborhoods. He now looks to the future of the ministry, hoping to have an even greater positive influence upon the lives of his neighbors and to make God’s presence even more known.
In a recent newsletter, Page highlighted Brandon “BJ” Caldwell’s story, offering a glimpse at the difficult environment BJ grew up in and the negative influence it had upon. His relationship with Page and the Urban Eagles are to thank in part for helping him overcome these obstacles and influences and for putting him on the positive path he is on now.
However Urban Eagles evolves over the coming years, God’s life-changing work will remain the same. That work can be best summed up by BJ’s own words: “The Urban Eagles benefited me by showing me the ropes of being a young man walking with God. I have learned that even when you are down and everything seems to be going wrong you still have your brothers and coaches. And whatever you need, just ask. The Urban Eagles family has provided me with love and a lot of unforgettable experiences.”