30 May Entrepreneurship Workshop Uplifts and Inspires YOC Residents

“Never be ashamed of your narrative. Your story can be used in powerful ways.” This was the advice offered by Christian hip hop artist, LJ as he and his colleague Chris Mack visited the Youth Opportunity Center May 29th.

Christian artist, LJ, dancing to hip hop. The back of his shirt says "Faith. Hope. Love."

Christian artist, LJ uses his craft of hip hop to exemplify faith, hope and love.

Chris and LJ were invited to campus by Paul Ward, the YOC’s Spiritual Life Coordinator as part of a program to teach creative entrepreneurship skills to residents—while providing a positive, uplifting message. This is the duo’s second year leading such a workshop, and already the YOC and its residents have a place in their heart. “This place was on my heart,” said LJ. “It was important to me to be here and share my message to give these kids the opportunity to see beyond their circumstances.”

Mack continued the sentiment, sharing, “These kids need to know that they are valued, cared for and seen.” The pair felt it was important that YOC residents know that there are people outside the organization that look at them and don’t make assumptions, but rather, see they’re just kids who need to be encouraged.

The afternoon started with each of the hip hop artists sharing a bit about their backgrounds in music, and how they were called to weave their faith into their music. They then guided the kids through practical exercises in entrepreneurial skills such as developing a brand, networking, and how to market a creative business—even diving into complex marketing concepts in a way that was relatable and understandable for the kids.

With over 30 residents in attendance, the workshop concluded with sharing goals and ideas. What followed was an hour-long Christian hip hop concert that truly generated excitement and engagement with the kids—which was the goal all along for the artists. “Hip hop fosters a sincere dialog,” said Mack. “I want to use it to uplift and inspire these kids.”

Chris Mack holding a microphone, performing a Christian hip hop song.

Chris Mack performs one of his many Christian hip hop songs for a group of YOC residents.

This workshop is just one of the many ways Spiritual Life Coordinator Paul Ward seeks to bring meaning, purpose and value to the lives of YOC residents. “The more positive people and resources from the community that we can connect our kids with while they’re here,” Ward said, “the more opportunities for success they’ll have when they leave.”  Throughout the year, residents are offered (but not required to participate in) activities such as bible study, church services and spiritual counseling. These programs position the YOC as a unique facility—one of the few non faith-based residential treatment centers for youth nationwide that offers these sorts of services.

“The fact that my position exists here at the YOC, and  I can offer programs such as this faith-based entrepreneurship workshop, highlights the dedication of the YOC to providing holistic treatment for our residents,” Ward said.

To learn more about Christian hip hop artists Chris Mack and LJ, please visit their websites:

To learn more about how you can help support the YOC and unique programs such as this, please visit our Foundation website.