In her office at Embassies of Christ Kingdom Ministries, Joy Oliver has bags of jerseys, basketballs, and a few scripts. All are tools she uses to work with young people at her church. You can find her at formal player’s basketball games or at Embassies of Christ on a Wednesday night speaking to the youth.
Young people are important to Embassies of Christ and Oliver, who is youth pastor there, she believes that helping them discover their purpose will make Gary a better place to live. According to Oliver, “Purpose is what you have been put on earth to do. It usually comes about when you discover your passion.” Joy Oliver is very enthusiastic when it comes to helping teens and young adults find their passion.
Oliver has a bachelor’s degree in Education from Indiana University Northwest. The daughter of Cedric and Joyce Oliver, who founded Embassies of Christ, she taught at the church’s school, Ambassador Academy until she decided to start working at the church. She began as a youth minister and soon became youth pastor, a job she has held for 12 years.
“God told me that my purpose was to help children, youth and young adults,” she said. “If we don’t give them the tools and knowledge to take care of the city of Gary who’s going to do it?” Oliver says.
Oliver feels her work with teens is critical to get them on the right path.
“A lot of teens don’t have any identity and that’s when they start getting into gangs. They feel like their identity is in that or they’re having babies early because they think that identity is in the person that they are with,” says Oliver.
Teens are fearless these days, they aren’t scared to shoot or get shot at. Oliver wants to properly focus that fearlessness.
“I don’t want teens to be afraid to take chances and do something outside of their comfort zone. I want them to not be afraid of doing something that benefits them,” Oliver said.
Oliver does much of her work at specially designed youth ministry meetings, called Imparting Ministry & Purpose Among Christian Teens (IMPACT), from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, in EOC’s gymnasium.
She teaches teens the word of God and other issues, such as sex, relationships and — most importantly — reaching their best potential by finding their purpose. Oliver has a different approach to teens; instead of just telling them what they shouldn’t be doing, she uses plays to show them what happens if they make different life choices. She has been writing plays for about 10 years.
Joy uses the talents of her teens and young adults to help plays become a success from technical support, to stage set up, to acting. “I like it when the teenagers get to show their talents, a lot of teens don’t get the chance to be involved,” said Steph-anie Wiley.
“I love to spark something in somebody and see them take off,” explains Oliver. “I’m super passionate about people knowing what God made them for. I believe that God made everyone for a reason and that reason helps some type of problem that’s here on earth.”