Montclair State University junior Mekhi Rivers and North Carolina A&T (NCA&T) alumni pastor DJ Yarborough are calling all students for the start of something new as they launch Heart of Worship University (HowU).
HowU is a college ministry for students to connect with one another from various colleges and universities. The mission of HowU is to create a safe space for young people to come together for Christ. HowU plans to have different events each month for students.
Yarborough, who is the pastor at Heart of Worship Church in East Orange, New Jersey, has been praying for years to start up a ministry to reach students in need because he was once one of them.
“The college ministry back in NCA&T was really important for me in that time, because it was a place where we got guidance, prayer, encouragement, motivation and was a place where it felt like home,” Yarborough said. “There are times where we feel like we don’t fit in especially in college. But the campus ministry was a place where I fit in. Where I wasn’t having to pretend to conform or attempt to conform to those things that were around me. I had a chance to really be free.”
That prayer was answered by Mekhi Rivers, who is a member at Heart of Worship Church, when he came up to the pastor.
“Pastor, I think we need to launch a college ministry,” Rivers recalls saying.
The pastor’s face lit up in awe and excitement agreeing to this, realizing his prayers were being answered.
“I’ve been waiting to do this and I want you to lead this,” Yarborough said to him in response.
Rivers took the offer willingly. The two call it a divine connection.
Rivers, who is involved on campus through clubs like Brotherhood, The Black Student Union and Men’s Leadership Academy, felt like he was called to do more. He was going to transfer out of Montclair State a semester ago for the pastor’s alma mater, NCA&T, but he ended up staying because he believed God wanted him to stay and help build something for students.
“I got back into Montclair State University and something about being back at the school and being here at HOW Church was an indication of God telling me ‘Mekhi, you need to connect college youth students with the church,’” Rivers said.
HowU has had two events so far. The first night was an event called “HowUnite” where students from colleges all around came to enjoy each other in a moment of fellowship. Both Montclair State’s and Kean University’s gospel choirs performed.
The other event was a Bible study night called “Wings & the Word,” in which college students received chicken wings while coming together and diving into the Bible with a special guest performance by musical artist Peter Collins. Collins sang cover songs from his new album “Love and Mind.”
Shakayla Greene, Montclair State’s gospel choir president and senior business administration major, was pleased with her time at HowU and recommends it to other students.
“The experience at HowU was very welcoming and we felt at home, we’d definitely recommend it to other students,” Greene said.
Roshon Shivers Jr., Kean University’s gospel choir director and senior psychology major, was pleased as well.
“I would totally recommend HowU to college students,” Shivers Jr. said. “If you are the type to reach where you are, HowU is the place to be. Wonderful experience and atmosphere and the men and women of God at the church for just wonderful people to know.”
HowU events will not only be taking place at Heart of Worship Church, but they are planning to travel to universities as well. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they are taking all precautions to make sure every student is safe. They are hopeful that by the next academic year they can take their ministries to campuses.