Richie Rojas

Over the past 9 months, I moved to Raleigh, NC to start the Raleigh Fellows program. For those of you who do not know what a Fellows program is, then let me explain. The Raleigh Fellows program is a part of a growing movement across the United States called the Fellows Initiative. It is about a 9 month Christian leadership development program that aims to equip recent college graduates with the foundations to enter into the workplace. This mission is accomplished through many learning experiences like bible classes, mentors, work, personality and career assessments, and more. The goal is to develop a seamless life between work and faith realizing that all work and life is pleasing to the Lord.

Now there are fellows program across the nation, but I felt the calling me to Raleigh. So I picked up and moved cross country from Arizona to start a life in Raleigh. Little did I know the challenges and growth that would occur. So here is my reasoning for every college graduate to take a year to do a fellows program!

1.     Take the time to invest in who God designed you to be.

Over this year, there have been countless opportunities to understand and learn more on how God specifically designed me to be. I am walking away from this year knowing my strengths weaknesses, spiritual gifts, love languages, personality type, and so much more on how I work and function as a person. I have taken the time and effort to use the resources that were provided to me to learn more. Society has formed us to constantly thinking about what is next. We are always going for one thing to the next without spending the needed time to sit and learn.

2.     Develop spiritually with solid Jesus loving teachers and mentors

The fellows’ community is surrounded by so many knowledgeable, wise, and loving people that are looking to disciple and train us fellows. We have been gifted to have so many teachers and mentors through the program and church that share their life experiences and gifts so we can connect with God in new and enriching ways. I have walked away with so many spiritual “nuggets” this year that has allowed me to gain an added Christian worldview.

3.     Learn how to participate in community

 “Community.” This is one of those Christian words that people really never teach you how to do or what it looks like. We are all stumbling around trying to figure this word out. The fellows program places you in a forced community. We did not choose each other, but God placed us together to learn and grow together. Too often if we don’t agree or like somebody, then we choose to go elsewhere without engaging in the hard uncomfortable conversations that ensue with relationships. This year I was placed in a group of 9 people that I had the opportunity to develop and grow with. Life happened. Things got hard. But something beautiful happened when we pressed in instead of leaving, we experienced true Christian community.

4.     Get glimpses of what Christian marriage and parenting looks like

This may be a weird point to read, but is something so vital! Each fellow is placed with a host family for the year. This family sacrifices time, space, and money so that a fellow can live and be a part of their family. I was placed with the Boulton family. This family of four boys has loved me, taught me, and incorporated me into their lives. Most importantly they feed me!! But really.. I had the privilege of seeing how a Christian husband and wife love each other. I saw how Christian parents loved, discipled, and taught their kids. This family opened up every part of their lives to my many questions about life, Jesus, and every day venting. What a gift!

5.     Experience a consistent and strong church

Each Fellows program is based out of a church on purpose. I have practiced out of Church of the Apostles, an Anglican church here in Raleigh. Coming into the program, I was hesitant to enter into this church not knowing what to expect. I have been blown away by what I have learned. The program hopes to connect the value of church to the need of spiritual community. We as fellows get to experience every part of the church. We are involved with youth ministry, Sunday school, volunteering during church services, and more. I have come to really value going to church every Sunday and being involved in the many avenues church provides. I have come to learn about Church history and tradition in a new way. It is giving each fellow a backbone and context in church.

6.     Witness and engage the bottom lines of the city

This was a foreign concept to me before the fellows program and didn’t really know what it meant until getting to experience what the “bottom lines” mean. As a fellow you are engaged with community outreach and transformation. To view the bottom lines of the city means to enter into the needs and shortcomings that occur in the city. It is about developing a worldview that doesn’t look inward, but outward to the people and city you live in. How many of us can actually say we truly understand and know the bottom lines of our city? Through fellows, we are starting to scratch the surface of that. We get to mentor kids from inner city Raleigh through Neighbor to Neighbor. We serve every month through a service project that sees a need in the city. Fellows is teaching us to constantly see outward to our city and participate in God’s continual process of renewing the city.

7.     Lastly, you get to meet Ashley and Sam Crutchfield

Ashley Crutchfield is our program director here in The Raleigh Fellows program. Then there is wise and generous husband, Sam Crutchfield. This family pours so much into the program so that each fellows walks away changed and closer to Jesus. They seek to equip every person that comes through the Raleigh Fellows by carefully orchestrating every part of the program so it consistently points to Jesus. You will never regret getting to know Ashley and Sam. They make you feel like the most special and loved person in the room. They have an incredible ability to lead us well, but also get on our level. You will dance, laugh, sing, cry, hug, and realize through all of it that you are known and loved.

I could continue to go on with the many reasons why every college graduate should do a fellows program, but that would make this way longer than it is supposed to be. I know I am definitely missing a bunch of stuff as well that I could have added. But hear me say this, things won’t always be easy or perfect during a fellows program. That is just life. Every fellows experience is different. We all experience rough patches. But I promise you that you will walk away from the year closer to Jesus and knowing yourself way better. I have been challenged, stretched, and hurt at times. But all things that I have experienced this year have pushed me to pursuing and loving Jesus more. I am walking away so glad I did the Raleigh Fellows program.

Now you go sign up!