SOUTH BEND, Ind. — He’s the kid who talks to kids who may not want to hear his message.
Trevion McFarland is that kid.
“I’m like an encourager of some sort,” said the 15-year-old John Adams High School sophomore.
Add student sports information director, youth minister and community activist to his résumé, and what you have is a teenager who said he is sick and tired of losing his young peers to violence.
The teen, raised in the Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church, said he practices what he preaches.
“So I tell them, this is the road that you’re on now, but you don’t have to stay on that road gang-banging or drinking or smoking,” McFarland tells the South Bend Tribune, sitting behind his desk in his office at Adams High School wearing a shirt and tie and resembling a school administrator instead of a student with two years left before graduation.
“I mean, it only leads you to a few places, to jail, it can lead you to some type of disease, or just get you in tons of trouble.”
Even as a 10-year-old at Edison Intermediate Center, McFarland said he shunned hanging out on the street corner to sit in Greater St. John listening to the preacher’s sermons.
For fun, he played basketball, although his hoops future might lie in coaching instead of playing. McFarland coaches a team of 9- to 12-year-olds at the YMCA and is also a licensed IHSAA official, refereeing mostly middle school and AAU youth games.
He said his true calling, however, lies in the ministry, a calling he answered at the age of 12.
“I always had a passion to just kind of spread the word of God,” McFarland says, “be that person who kind of encouraged people, inspired people, lifted people up, stuff like that.”
That youthful holiness drew people to the young minister like a magnet.
“Even when I was 12,” McFarland says, “I had people coming at me for advice, or to pray, or something like that.”
When the calling roared, like last year when 20 local youths and a group of 25 more from a Milwaukee ministry took to the chapel at Abundant Faith Family Ministries to sing, dance and pray for too many young friends killed over drugs, crime and gang violence, McFarland emceed the event, then hit the streets of his South Bend neighborhood to spread a message of non-violence.
“Oh, I talked to anybody I saw,” McFarland says. “Somebody would walk past and I would start sharing with him.
“For a while there was a lot of street ministry that me and a couple of our friends did,” he adds. “We went on the streets, to different venues, spoke our beliefs, shared our beliefs.”
“He’s always reached out in his community,” says McFarland’s mother, Natasha Poindexter. “He spoke for a couple of kids that were . . . really badly injured.”
When McFarland heard about Tramelle Sturgis – the 10-year-old boy abused, tortured and beaten to death by his father in 2011 – he organized a march.
Poindexter said her son “spoke highly of the little boys (Tramelle and his two brothers who were also abused), had a march for them and involved the community.
“He even does speeches at churches and different environments,” Poindexter adds. “He even has a prayer line that he goes on, and he preaches. I’m definitely a proud mother. I come to tears at times for the things he does for people.”
McFarland is the first to realize that there are those who may not want to hear the good word he is spreading.
He cares anyway.
“Some kids are not receptive,” he acknowledges with a knowing smile. “They don’t want to have anything to do with me, or religion, or Christ.
“And I don’t really go to kids to force religion upon them . . . because religion doesn’t always work,” he said. “If I have to quote somebody from a religious standpoint, or drill Jesus into them, they’re not going to be receptive to that. But even if I don’t, some people like where they are; they think it’s fine. I just try to help them get back on the right track.”
There’s no Sunday group meeting this week. No house to go to get together with friends over a few Bible verses and shared thoughts.
Not a concern. The kid who makes it a point to reach the kids who don’t want to listen will undoubtedly find something to do.
Or somebody in need of a little enlightenment – whether they listen or not.
“It’s something I enjoy,” McFarland says, “just simply helping people. I’m just a person who is just, kind of, restoring hope to the hopeless.”