By Amara N. Beaty, V&V Staff Writer
Friday night July 22 at City of Hope International Church, the Reel Teens program kicked off another successful Summer Nights with the theme, Western Roundup. From 5pm to 8pm, kids from middle to high school enjoyed a night of country-themed fun! From ping-pong and pool to Mario Kart, square dancing, and barbecue so good it would make you wanna slap your mama, everybody fully enjoyed themselves the whole night through.
James Wiley Jr., the founder and president of Reel Teens, began doing summer nights for teenage kids last year, but his journey into youth ministry started in his youth.
Twenty-two years ago and fresh out of high school, a young James, after giving his life to Christ, felt compelled to give back to his community with the Grace and the gifts God gave him. So what does he do? He begins his journey in youth ministry, serving the children from the community he grew up in. Fast forward 18 years later. In 2018, after mentoring kids all throughout the Southeast community, Mr. Wiley, as some of us know him, started his own ministry, Reel Teens.
“I started ReelTeens because I know the youth in our community need a safe place where they can be in the company of loving, caring adults. To have a good time, and to hear the word of God in a way they can understand,” Wiley stated.
When asked how he managed to do what he’s doing now, he responded, “[Reel Teens] is definitely God. I see God all through this. I look at the mobile teen center and everything I have for the kids and wonder, ‘How did I get this?’ It’s nothing but God.”
This particular Summer Nights event was an extra special one, as a group of Arkansas youth volunteers were in attendance. Spending eight weeks of their summer in San Diego, five young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five were unexpectedly sent out to help Wiley with his program over the summer.
Jessica Taylor, a twenty-two-year-old working with GenSend – North American Mission Board, shared what “being where your feet are” means when it comes to missionary work and overall evangelism.
“We’re going home soon and we’re excited about it, but we still have work to do where we are right now,” said the young missionary when talking about doing door-to-door evangelism. “I’ve learned that while I’m here I may not see a bunch of people come to Christ, but I don’t know how God is working and how the Holy Spirit is moving. A lot of times, it takes more than one connection to accept Christ, so any connection is a win—even when they slam the door in my face,” Taylor said.
There are only three more Summer Nights on the docket this summer. The next Summer Nights will be August 5, 2022, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Follow @jwileyjr18 on Instagram to keep up with the latest at Reel Teens!