Amber Mallow planned to move back to her hometown of Altoona, Pa., to teach at the local elementary school once she finished an education degree at Penn State University. But God had other plans.
“I was in a meeting where we had to choose where we wanted to student teach,” Mallow recalls. “I will never forget it. They passed out these papers that said, ‘Choose your option. You need to pick.’ And, the Holy Spirit was just like, ‘Pick this. Check it. Check the box.’
The box she checked was for a school in inner city Philadelphia. It turned out to be about five minutes away from Urban Hope, a ministry she had first learned about as a student at Momentum Youth Conference. (She had attended Momentum with her youth group from Grace Fellowship Church, Altoona campus.)
Her student teaching experience whet her appetite enough that she decided to stay and complete the summer internship at Urban Hope. She then took a teaching job with Cambodian refugees’ kids where she taught fifth and sixth grade for the next three years, which allowed her to continue volunteering. She stepped into her staff role at Urban Hope this past summer.
“Once I started teaching [at Urban Hope], I realized that God had been preparing me for it,” she notes.
At Urban Hope, Mallow is responsible for writing curriculum, developing new programs for children, and encouraging and finding volunteers within the church. She is also responsible for connecting the ministry to local public schools, making sure that the church has a presence in the community, and for developing discipleship options for the children who come through the doors of Urban Hope.
This year, through Mallow’s supervision, Urban Hope has started a discipleship program called Salt & Light.
“[Through the program], kids come and learn about how to be salt and light to their school and their family,” explains Mallow. Using practical and creative means to nurture and disciple the children involved, the program also gives them the tools to share their faith with others.
“It’s amazing what you can see when you stay here even for two or three years, just the change that God makes. It doesn’t happen in a day, it doesn’t happen in a year. Being able to walk with kids through the kids program and see them grow into teenagers and see them become the leaders of our church, ‐‐it’s a blessing.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.