Alumni Profile Jordan Francis
Posted by: DVULI | May 17, 2021
by Will Cumby, (Houston 2010)
Alumni: Jordan Francis (Phoenix 2018)
Organizations: Realtalk and Reframe
Current Position: Chief Executive Officer
Why would God call Jordan Francis to minister to urban youth?
I am a black former college athlete from England with a unique look, a challenging story, and a plan. Those characteristics allow me to confidently enter doors that are unfortunately closed too often to people of color. With every open door, I consider how I can take what God has given me to open doors, leverage friendships, and equip teens with nonprofits, LLCs, and business plans.
Since I am done being an upfront speaker, I am sure God wants me to train leaders who will empower this generation to charge forward righteously. That is why Reframe [the for-profit enterprise I lead] is writing curriculum with teenagers (both believers and unbelievers) from inner-city schools to directly benefit both audiences. These teaching tools are crafted from a distinct space with psychology and theology integrated with a business entrepreneur element.
What is your mission for youth, and how are you fulfilling it?
My most significant concern is showing this generation how God is just while calling them to practice justice. Teenagers are justice and compassion-oriented leaders who love their friends and care about their causes. I desire to see justice come about in their homes and schools while equipping them with tools to build the reality of their dreams.
Realtalk, our nonprofit, focuses on open forum conversations in public schools by creating settings that encourage dialogue about controversial issues in a noncontroversial way. Reframe takes knowledge obtained through the public school system, teen dialogues, and church contexts and blends them into curriculums and training materials to reach youth—both believers and nonbelievers.
How did you know you were called to reach today’s generation of youth?
I started serving in college ministry and then moved to Arizona with my wife in 2016 to help a friend launch a church. While praying about growing the church, we launched Realtalk, and I felt the Holy Spirit leading us to work with community high schools. I saw broken and hurting students from various backgrounds and related to many of their stories. Each day we serve in the schools is a confirmation that high school ministry is why God sent us to Arizona.
As a relatively young ministry, what challenges have you faced?
When we first began Realtalk, our most significant challenges were credibility, recognition, and financial backing. The organizations that wanted to stick with us could not afford to stay, and those that could afford it did not last. We also had internal challenges. Over time, we learned that sustained success takes resiliency, persistence, and committed consistency to our beliefs. We also learned how to show grace, to be honest, and to dialogue. Conversation is good theology. Jesus was always talking with someone. We must create space for real conversation in our personal and professional lives while teaching teenagers to dialogue daily with their Creator.
What do you hope to accomplish while you serve in this capacity?
The goal is to reframe the way we do youth ministry. God is reconciling the world to Himself. He is redeeming creation, and we are participants in that plan. We endeavor to develop this justice-seeking generation to be the church by pursuing kindness, building legacies, and creating more than just Sunday services. We want to help establish a new framework that drives teenagers to engage the world for Christ.
What has the ministry been able to achieve that keeps you encouraged?
I am most [encouraged] when people who are not believers go to bat for Realtalk. Our space in schools isn’t guaranteed, and having advocates is crucial to extending our efforts. When nonbelieving school staff members engage their principal on our behalf, it says more than any pamphlet or sales pitch. We have been able to create environments for youth and adults, regardless of their belief system, to feel seen and be vulnerable.
Secondly, we created an app that takes the conversation kits used through our school programs to people’s homes. The app gives tools and tips for peer-to-peer conversations and guides for parents. It is available on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store (RLTK.io).
Does the ministry engage in collaboration in any way?
We partner with a church by providing a safe space and food during lunch for their youth who attend a nearby high school. Those students start a club and build organic interest. Then we help lead the conversation and help disciple. The collaboration is between Realtalk, churches, schools, parents, and teen leaders.
What kind of legacy do you hope Realtalk will see?
We want to see emotionally healthy teens who are also spiritually healthy living a life that builds God’s kingdom. I wholeheartedly believe you can be called to ministry and not be a pastor. You can be a light in the world without having to speak from a church pulpit. I want our fingerprint to reveal that we helped teenagers process their trauma and not fall away from their faith or make bad decisions when they become successful.
What takeaway from your DVULI training are you applying to your work as a CEO?
Balance and interdependence. I gained the practice of journaling while “trusting the process,” and it has helped me to manage pursuing a master’s degree, working for a church, running a nonprofit and a for-profit organization, all while being married with three children. At the end of the day, my priority is being present with my family and observing the Sabbath. I still struggle with delegating, but I am growing. Interdependence is also a major principle. John 17 and Psalm 133 challenge those who care about evangelism to also care about unity.
What can your DVULI family be praying for as you continue in ministry?
I ask that you pray for my endurance. This work is a long game, and like soccer, so many things are going on at once. I need patience and wisdom to create and make the right decisions to obtain the right results for God’s kingdom. Also, pray for our new baby due at the beginning of March!
This article was published in the Spring 2021 issue of DVULI's On the Level print newsletter