Murray, SP staff in Richmond, Virginia, proudly remembers Na'jir's coming-of-age moment and the surprising destination of his first solo drive in Murray's family car.
My friend Ward, a fellow Phantoms Basketball Assistant Coach, was having lunch after church with his family in the West End of Richmond when they heard a knock on the door. His daughter, Joy, answered the door. "Na'jir?!", she exclaimed with surprise. "Hey everyone, it's Na'jir!"
Na'jir is a young man from Church Hill and also a Phantoms player. Ward has mentored Na'jir for the last five years. Ward's family and Na'jir have built a very tight relationship over these years. Ward greeted Na'jir at the door and said, "Great to see you, Na'jir! But how did you get all the way out here from the East End?"
"I got my license, and I borrowed a friend's car," Na'jir replied with a broad smile. Ward welcomed Na'jir into their home where they enjoyed a meal together, talking about this rite of passage, and the various possibilities it presented for his future.
Perhaps it sounds like a simple story, but there is much to celebrate here. Na'jir grew up in Mosby Court, and few high school students in his neighborhood have their driver's license. Na'jir worked very hard and demonstrated tremendous initiative and resolve to obtain his driver's license. Second, Na'jir cultivated extensive social skills within his community. He has formed many trusting relationships, including one with Lauren and me. Lauren and I do not simply let anyone with a driver's license borrow our car, but Na'jir has proven his great driving ability and has also earned our trust over the years. Third, isn't it beautiful that one of the first places Na'jir chose to visit was his mentor's family? It shows the depth of relationship they have and Na'jir's desire to show Ward his accomplishment, the type of affirmation that is influential in a person's development.
It is young men like Na'jir that form the focal point of our ministry in the East End. He is so worth it. I am convinced he is worth it, and that this community is worth the investment through time, talent, and money. There are many more young men in the community that could benefit from these investments, and we plan to continue the focused effort to build friendships and share the gospel with them.