ALTERING PERSPECTIVES | IDEAS ON RISK, LEADERSHIP AND MENTORING  All great leaders take risks. There is something about living in the tension of complete and utter failure and reaching the pinnacle of success. Living in this tension invites leaders to make difficult decisions, accelerating their learning and expertise due to lessons learned in pressure filled environments. At times, the fear of failing can motivate leaders to accomplish great feats or lead them to demise. We’ve seen these truths in the lives of many leaders today. 
Naturally there are leaders who do not possess the courage to take risks, therefore they remain stagnant, paralyzed by the fear of “what if?” Think about the pastor who had dreams of leading a mega church, but is now relegated to preaching to a few congregants. He might have begun optimistically, but is now full of frustration due to his lack of “success.” Or the mom and pop store owners whose dreams of guiding a flourishing business have dissipated when “s…


My name is Jay Cummings. Only 20 minutes away at Azusa Pacific University, I have spent these past three years studying in complete ignorance of the pain and suffering that some of the urban youth in Pomona experience on an everyday basis.
Where I grew up, “coming from a broken home” simply meant that a kid’s parents had been divorced and they had it hard at home. Unfortunately, some of the students that come to JU4Y come from places like these. I distinctly remember driving away from internship one day where a student was left crying in the middle of the parking lot because she was so scared to go back to the place that was supposed to be called home. I don’t know that she has ever known what a home is truly meant to be like. Many of us have been raised to believe that home is a place where we can find refuge, rest, and relationship. Over the course of these past few months, I have come to realize what a luxury this really is. I remember sobbing in my car out of anger and frustratio…


Every day and on every campus we get to work with savant students. There is always one who dances to the beat of their own song. One who is moving to a rhythm that is foreign to the world around them. If you only look externally, you may miss the genius that is before you. You may become disillusioned by their lack of “proper social abilities” or “their apparent disinterest” in what you find to be important, but you must not blink or you’ll miss it, or not hear it, the sound of music that is playing.
The young urban mind cultivates genius amidst the trauma that it endures. Surviving the misfortunes of the inner city isn’t easy. To avoid collapse, young minds take dissonant sounds created by unspeakable traumas and they orchestrate exquisite symphonies for only them to hear. This sound of music brings peace to the fractured world they live in, and it calms their soul and protects their mind from catastrophe.
As mentors, it is our privilege and our challenge to listen and move to the youn…


The Art of Mentoring There are millions of blogs and articles out there on mentoring. With a simple google search thousands of pages will pop up and stare you in the face. Even after 18 years of mentoring experience, I still hit major roadblocks in my mentoring process with challenging students. I call these youth, “heavy hitters” because every effort from others to connect to them fails. Their lives have been full of trauma, abandonment, poverty and pain.
I am not a quitter, so over the years in times like these I get creative in my efforts, hoping to resource myself to find a way to breakthrough. Hearing their stories and circumstances may help you understand my predicament a bit more.
Male 18, gang affiliated, drug addicted I’ve been mentoring this young man for 2 years, but the process stalled. I seemed to be getting nowhere as he continued to “put in work” for his neighborhood bringing drugs, violence and destruction everywhere he went.
Female 16, gang affiliated, drug addicted, hom…


The city owns you after dusk
You sleep as one of its own
The elephant in the room has
No room to roam no trust or tusks
Just skin and bones

The scent of discontent of
Continents adrift collide in the neap
Tide of her tears inside

What are we but walking trees? Seeking
Roots to run deep
Sesame Street has a dark side
Count 1-2-3 we weep and weep


What are we but walking trees? Standing
On every street corner
While they throw shades and blades our arms stretch out
In preservation
Our roots run deep with hope

Every playground is surrounded
Laughter rides on the backs of butterflies
3 O Clock the trees stand in watch
Backpacks carry our future home

Written by John David McKellar John David McKellar has lived in Pomona for 14 years. His three daughters (and wife) are/were all PUSD students. Over the years his heart has been broken for our youth in the city. He served as a youth pastor for over 10 years and now serves as a Mentor Supervisor for Just Us 4 Youth. He has hope for our city as youth continue to …


Roaring winds, soft breeze, rock cool beneath me, I’m surrounded by trees taller than buildings. Slipping into a trance and letting my cares, fears, and worries drift away with the wind. Captivated by the sunlight as it hits these pages. Reflecting back to that split second where I felt an instant revelation in a foreign land. It was a place where I was welcomed with open arms and smiles. To be completely honest these foreigners made me feel human again. This is the place in my life where some would define as “experiencing a supernatural calling.” Before this trip I had no sense of purpose or what type of job I wanted to pursue. On this particular day this calling was so profound, although I still questioned myself ...Is this real? Is this a fantasy? My hopes and biggest aspirations seemed light years away. Is this my purpose? Am I called to lead wandering souls to the right path? Why me? How am I going to impact others, and give sound advice to the youth if I was in the same boat? I …


"How to develop emerging inner city leaders"I love walking onto campuses and into neighborhoods meeting young leaders. They are everywhere! Diamonds in the rough. In urban spaces, because of the overwhelming obstacles that youth face, high functioning leaders are bred daily! They are the most resilient, highly creative and innovative people in our cities. When you find one, invest in them. Here are some tips to do so effectively.
Find a common ground Quickly seek to identify their values. Find out what's important to them. Find out what excites them. Ask questions to find a talking point that will carry you out of an awkward beginning into an organic new-found bond. 

Speak in their language Capture their attention. Be creative. Be willing to be a student of their culture and their language. You don't have to be cool to do so, you simply must have a desire to learn from them, learn about them, and then meet them on their level and elevate them to new heights.
Help them lea…