By: Katie Sobiech
With hit TV shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and others showcasing talent, it is no wonder today’s youth are interested in and aspire to chase after their artistic dreams.
Realizing the importance of having a positive outlet for the youth to use their gifts, Yvonne Brake began her own God-inspired ministry right here in Akron in 1980.
Because He Cares (BHC) began as a youth drama group after Yvonne Brake, Director of Development at Haven of Rest Ministries, had a vision for using the arts to share the message of Christ. It was then that she began providing opportunities for youth to explore their own talents.
Her husband Darryl explained, “We are a vehicle for people to use their talents and abilities for Christ.”
Their son, Daren, who is also a part of the ministry added, “We consider ourselves to be a talent based ministry, providing hope and options to the urban community through prevention, education and outreach programs.”
With the epidemic of teen suicide, pregnancies and other issues that have been running rampant among our youth, this ministry has found a key in reaching the culture on topics they care about. They do this through drama, skits and plays that have a way of touching hearts more just than words ever could.
Yvonne writes every scene. Some of the titles of her plays include “Street Life”, “No Choices Left” and “Is Anybody Listening?”
Currently their student leadership program at Perkins Middle School gives students the opportunity to broaden their horizons through the use of media and puppets to convey a message to their peers that they feel is important.
“Last year they did a video on bullying, something that has been in the headlines lately. The statistics on it show something like 160,000 kids miss school due to bullying, and its effects seem to be very long term,” Daren said.
BHC teaches Student leadership skills as well as the importance of giving back. The youth were involved in a canned food drive for OPEN M, a ministry which reaches out to the less fortunate. The BHC kids have plans for more initiatives in the future.
“We’re trying to teach them about being a leader and putting out positive messages, but also the importance of giving back,” Daren said.
In the past, the ministry produced inspirational radio spots on WCRF. They also created a video about teenage suicide in the late 1980’s titled “Are They Crying Too Softly?” which aired on several local TV stations and was shown in area churches.
Requests for performances poured in, leading them to schedule up to 160 activities a year. They provided programs and services to more than 125,000 people in school systems throughout Northeast Ohio, as well as in churches, universities, correctional facilities, drug rehab centers, and community organizations.
In the early 1990’s BHC produced a weekly radio program, “Drama in the Inner City” on WHLO.
What They Do Now
Today the Brake family goes into public schools. Although they don’t go in with their Bibles or a sermon, they do incorporate their faith by their example. As they get to know the kids they ask questions about their lives and are able to give them godly direction and advice.
Their ministry covers a variety of different areas, from going into the schools, to putting on plays, to getting kids to think about and work towards their dreams for the future.
They currently offer two programs: Child Enrichment in the summer, and Student Leadership, an after school program. Student Leadership includes a Media Club where children learn about different media and are given hands on experience with video equipment. They also gain leadership development skills and are tutored.
The Word Spreading
People often ask, “Can you come and do something like this at our church?” So part of BHC’s ministry involves traveling to churches and schools, even in cities outside of Akron, to teach people how to start similar programs.
“We see ourselves as a tool for jumpstarting youth ministry. If you want something different we can come in and work with you,” Darryl said.
And you don’t necessarily have to be an actor or actress. There are many different roles to be filled in order to put on or facilitate a performance.
The Importance of a Vision
Vision is key.
“I believe the book of Proverbs says it best, ‘Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint’,” Daren said. “When you have no vision, what stops you from getting into trouble? If you have no future, what stops you from taking this or stealing that? What stops you from getting involved in a life of crime? What stops you from staying abstinent?”
Daren continued, “The thoughts running through many of the young people’s minds are like ‘Why should I not drink? Not smoke? What does cancer matter? I’ll be lucky to make it to 20 years old anyway.’”
“A lot of the youth’s issues center around options,” Daren said, “because options produce hope. When there isn’t any hope, they don’t see options. You have a lot of smart, very bright kids that could be doing a lot better, but they don’t apply themselves because they don’t see how things could be any better.”
Therefore, the ministry’s goal is to broaden the youth’s horizons, so that their worlds aren’t so small.
Most of the kid’s worlds are so small because they normally consist of the two blocks that they live on.
“A person can become very narrow and that can be dangerous at a young age,” Daren said.
What they want to show them is that the world is “So large and incredible,” Darryl said, “I tell them ‘at your age you can do anything’.”
“And that’s what salvation does,” Daren added, “It provides you with a vision; it gives you purpose. When you get saved you see things differently.”
“But there are also things that we know will derail us from getting to those streets of gold,” Darryl added, “and we have to avoid those things.”
Ministry Impact Day
Among BHC’s dreams for the future is a Ministry Impact Day for which they have already assembled a committee from various churches to help with the planning.
“It will be day of fellowship and equipping people who have a heart for ministry,” Daren said.
The focus will be three fold, including Purpose and Vision, Generational Poverty and Ministry to the Poor, and Using Your Gifts and Talents.
“It will be a place where people who have a heart for ministry can come and get the fire rekindled and fellowship with others who have the same heart and passion for ministry,” Daren said.
“There’s a sense of unity in bringing people from different churches and denominations together behind one event. Instead of being a Because He Cares event, it’s a church, Body of Christ, event.”
In the future they also hope to put on a citywide evangelistic play for the church to bring their un-churched friends to without it being threatening.
If you are interested in finding out more about this ministry or becoming a volunteer, you can contact them through their website: http://www.bhcministry.org
Or check them out at http://www.bhcministry.org/