(Austin studying before his TUMI class on God the Father)
At the age of six, Austin's world came crashing down. As he watched his father get out of his parked car one day and walk toward their house, a neighbor shot him without warning. Austin helplessly watched as his father lay dying on the sidewalk’s edge. Although Austin’s father survived, the impact of this event left a permanent mark on his young mind of the unforgiving violence as he grew up in Watts.
By Jr. High, Austin discovered Marijuana and alcohol. He was initiated into a gang and became active in turf wars, robberies, beatings, and drive-by shootings. At age 15, he was arrested for possession of a firearm. Three years later, he was arrested again when the police pulled him over and discovered a gun hidden under his seat. He spent 4 years in prison running with a Hispanic gang, fighting, and participating in riots. He had heard about Jesus in prison, but rejected it; he mocked Christians, viewing them as weak, hypocritical, and cowards.
A year after getting out of prison, he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to another 4 years in prison. As he was being booked, he gave his life to Christ, lifting his hands and falling down on his knees before everyone – confessing his
need for a Savior. Through the eyes of Christ, life inside the prison walls looked vastly different. Austin separated himself from the politics of the gangs and took a stand for the Gospel, fully expecting to get beat up or stabbed. Every night he would pray with prisoners in his dorm, study God’s word, and share the good news about Christ with anyone who would listen.
In March 2008, Austin began taking classes at The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) through a partnership formed with Prison Fellowship. “When God opened the doors for me to go to TUMI, it created in me a desire to do my best to study to show myself approved.” Austin started a Bible Study that in one year grew from 8 to 27 men. He used what he was learning from TUMI to teach the word of God and equip and empower other inmates to continue the Bible Study before he was paroled. Austin also had the opportunity to share the gospel with his dad during a prison visit; he accepted Christ after seeing the difference God has made in Austin’s life.
In September 2009, Austin continued his theological education through TUMI Los Angeles after being released from prison. His love for hurting people has fueled a deep desire within him to become a pastor, plant churches, and get involved with the work God is doing here in the city. Austin sees TUMI playing a key role in his desire to be equipped, empowered, and released to share God’s love with others and make disciples. “TUMI is training leaders to go into the neediest of places, poverty stricken urban areas that need to be loved and need to hear about Jesus. I want to be a part of what God is doing here in the city.”
As an emerging church leader, TUMI is the highlight of Austin’s week. “I feel so thankful to be a part of what God is doing through TUMI. It’s amazing to be sitting across the table from other men and women of God who are also being trained and equipped to be future pastors, leaders, and ministers of the gospel. Soon, we will all be sent out to different parts of the city and partner together to make an impact for God’s Kingdom. That’s exciting! I never thought God could use me in this way.”
(After graduation, Austin shows his TUMI Certificate to his family)
The Urban Ministry Institute of Los Angeles (TUMI-LA) 2001 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (323) 735-3400 ext 372 firstname.lastname@example.org