Matthew Smith

Serving IN NEWARK, NJ

I am currently the Youth and Young Adults Leader at The Rock Christian Fellowship in Newark, New Jersey. I have been serving in this role for 2 years now and I am truly grateful that God has opened this door. Although I graduated from Rutgers University with a Marketing degree, I knew The Lord was calling me to ministry during my senior year. Immediately after I graduated, I began working at The Rock.

The ministry I oversee, which is called Boulders 4 Christ, focuses on middle and high school students. I meet with them Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings during our mid-week service. We also have a teen night every last Thursday of the month. The most challenging responsibility has been addressing the fact that most of the kids in the community have minimal or no knowledge of the Bible and most have had no experience with church. Although challenging, it is rewarding teaching and showing them the love of Jesus, which many of them have never heard or seen. So, I have the opportunity to follow Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 3:10a-11, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it... For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” It is an honor to introduce a community of youth to Jesus! It does not get much better than that. Other challenges include working through their trust issues and just fighting against the pressures that come from living in the ghetto. However, The Rock has become a daily refuge for our kids and it allows me to share life with them.

I envision our youth becoming people whose hearts desire Jesus and the plan and purpose He has for their lives. I hope they come to understand that there is a big world beyond the projects they live in for them to experience and an even bigger God to come to know and love. Also, I am praying about mission’s trips. Sometimes our youth can tend to feel as though they’re always being served, but I am trying to teach them they have amazing gifts to offer our Lord and others as well.

Our young adults ministry is called Petra, which means “rock” in Greek. Petra is a ministry that provides a sense of community for young adult believers who tend to feel lonely in their walk at times. This was pressed on my heart to lead because I would always hear young adults sharing how they are only Christians in the world, sometimes. My vision is to see Petra become a ministry where they can grow in Jesus, but also enjoy life as Christians in fellowship with others.

Lastly, during the week, I work as an assistant to our Lead Pastor, Ray Dash. Working closely with Pastor Ray allows me to be mentored in ministry as well as learn how to pastor and run a church, including maintenance and administrative tasks. Although working in Newark has its struggles, it is a blessing to be able to work in full-time ministry and fulfill God’s calling on my life.