Celebrating 20 Years of Outreach: Young Leaders We Are Learning From

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It begins as the smallest of seeds and grows into a tree large enough to provide shelter for the birds. From something seemingly insignificant comes something that can change the world. 

Over the past 20 years, the team at Outreach magazine has striven to hold up a magnifying glass to the amazing work that God’s Spirit is doing through his church every day, often in efforts that start small, yet grow to have a massive impact. We want to draw attention to the things our human eyes often miss, so that the glorious, unfolding plan of our great God becomes just a little bit clearer to those who hope for his coming.

As we look back to celebrate the past 20 years of God’s faithfulness to use Outreach magazine to encourage his church, we looked back to leaders that shaped and influenced us. In this article, we also want to encourage us to look forward—to learn from the next generation. As such, we wanted to draw from leaders representing a variety of ages and backgrounds, and they serve the Lord in distinct and beautifully creative ways. But what they share in common is a love for God and his church and a passionate commitment to share the good news of the unfolding kingdom in their unique spheres of influence to the glory of God alone.

West Chicago, Illinois 
Occupation: Co-planter of Renewal Church in West Chicago, teaching pastor at Renewal Church and Timberlake Church in Seattle
Age: 44

Aubrey Sampson is no stranger to sorrow, but for a long time she didn’t know how to deal with it. She had a particularly difficult 2015 when she lost a dear cousin, was diagnosed with a debilitating disease and was caring for a son with major physical challenges. Her marriage, ministry and faith were stretched to the breaking point. 

I had been a Christian for decades at that point, so I knew that I was called to ‘Rise above’ and to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always,’” Sampson says. “But I was woefully unprepared—in any of my spiritual formation—to deal with crushing grief.”

Out of those experiences and her heart for at-risk women, she embarked on a journey to help the church learn to practice biblical lament as part of our spiritual formation.

Seven years later, she is the author of three books—Overcomer, The Louder Song and Known—co-host of the Nothing Is Wasted podcast, a frequent speaker at conferences and events, and is partnering with Propel Ecclesia to empower women in church leadership

Through my writing, preaching, podcasting and broadcasting, God has given me beautiful opportunities to communicate the gospel to hurting souls,” Sampson says. “And I’ve seen them experience his healing.”

Jordan Whitmer

Chicago, Illinois 
Occupation: Founder and CEO of the HowToLife Movement
Age: 24

According to Barna Research, only around 4% of Gen Z holds to a biblical worldview. It’s statistics like this one that drive Jordan Whitmer’s passion to galvanize his generation for the gospel. Growing up in a ministry family as the grandson of evangelist Ron Hutchcraft, sharing his faith has always been part of Whitmer’s life. 

In March 2015, when he was a junior in high school, Whitmer and several friends organized the first HowToLife outreach event. The totally student-led event featured worship songs, testimonies and presentations of the gospel. Over 750 students showed up and more than 75 made a commitment to Christ.

Out of that first event emerged a movement and a nonprofit organization that is mobilizing Gen Z to reach Gen Z across the globe. Over the past seven years, 125 HowToLife events have been held in 25 states and six countries, drawing over 25,000 young people with over 2,300 making professions for Christ. 

In addition, thousands of young leaders have been equipped for kingdom work. The key is raising up a local team of student leaders to lead each event. 

“In order to see Gen Z Christians rapidly discipled, we must turn them loose to lead,” Whitmer says. “Christian youth are less likely to leave the church when they are empowered as teenagers. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to train, equip and turn loose teens and young adults to lead for Christ.”

Cory Ard

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Occupation: Hip-hop and spoken word artist, urban missionary
Age: 31

As a teenager, Cory Ard was one of the founding leaders of the fastest-growing gang in Colorado Springs. His father had gone to prison for attempted murder when Cory was five months old, leading the boy to turn to the streets to escape the hardships and abuse he faced. But at age 16, God radically saved and transformed him. 

Now he uses his powerful testimony to reach out to the gang members, at-risk youth and juvenile detention centers with the hope of the gospel. He also inspires Christians and non-Christians alike through hip-hop, spoken word and leading worship with his singer-songwriter wife Ryann at Zeal Church. 

“[Younger leaders] are hungry and ready for truth, authenticity, community and the power of the Holy Spirit,” Ard says. “If you can cultivate those things, both biblically and relevantly, I believe we will see a move.”

Faith Eury Cho
Photo Courtesy of Jay Suarez

Paramus, New Jersey
Occupation: Co-pastor of Mosaic Covenant Church in New Jersey, Founder and CEO of The Honor Summit
Age: 36

For as long as she can remember, Faith Eury Cho has been searching for God. She came to America from South Korea when she was four years old, and though she was born into a non-Christian family, she always had a hunger to know her Creator. She finally found Jesus, and became a preacher at age 19. As she has navigated the complexities of being an Asian American female minister, wife, mother and follower of Christ, her heart has grown for marginalized people.

Now she is co-pastor with her husband of Mosaic Covenant Church in New Jersey, a multiethnic church that exists to introduce the presence of God to their neighborhood, and help people discover the worth of knowing Christ. She is also the founder and CEO of The Honor Summit, a growing ministry that centers the voices of Asian American women in the mission of God. 

She has appeared on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Better Together, is a frequent speaker at national events, and is the author of a forthcoming book scheduled for release in the fall of this year, tentatively titled The Purpose of Wilderness (WaterBrook). 

The gift of the gospel is the presence of God, and I believe that everything I do points to that gift,” Eury Cho says. “I have found that no matter what my supposed limitations have been, God’s presence is enough.”

Jacob Coyne

Johnson City, Tennessee
Occupation: Social media evangelist, co-founder of Stay Here
Age: 30

Every 12 minutes there is a death by suicide in the U.S. It’s currently the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans (Save.org). Jacob Coyne, co-founder of Stay Here (StayHere.live), is on a mission to make Gen Z suicide free. Stay Here is a mental health organization that brings awareness, support, community and resources to people struggling with mental illness. To date, they have saved countless lives and trained over 13,000 people to prevent suicide and bring care to the brokenhearted.

Additionally, Coyne reaches out to millions of people through his social media channels every day with the message of the gospel—he has 1.3 million followers on TikTok alone—and has led over 100,000 people to Christ since 2020. 

“God has given me a platform to reach millions around the world with the gospel on social media, and in person,” Coyne says. “[He] put a fire in me during my teenage years, and it’s still burning bright today.”

Myron Rolle

Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Neurosurgery resident at Harvard-Massachusetts General Hospital, founder of the Caribbean Neurosurgery Foundation
Age: 36

From a young age, Myron Rolle had two dreams: 1) play in the NFL 2) become a neurosurgeon. Even as he pursued his NFL dream as a safety for Florida State University, the medical dream never went away. When he received a Rhodes scholarship, he took a year off from football to attend Oxford University. After being drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2010, he spent the next two seasons trying to make it onto the field, with the Titans and briefly with the Pittsburgh Steelers, before deciding in 2013 to let go of his pro football dreams to pursue medicine full time.

Now Rolle is a neurosurgery resident at Harvard-Massachusetts General Hospital and the founder of the Caribbean Neurosurgery Foundation, an outfit that seeks to build capacity and provide timely access to neurological care in his native Bahamas and around the world. He attributes his success to his life philosophy of “the 2% way” of pursuing incremental improvements every day that lead to long-lasting results—which he details in his memoir with the same title—and to his deep faith in God. 

My faith is helping me now as a practicing physician,” Rolle says. “My life could have gone in a whole different direction if God didn’t intervene.”

Tori Hope Petersen

Defiance, Ohio
Occupation: Co-founder of the Beloved Initiative
Age: 26

Tori Hope Petersen spent her childhood in and out of 12 foster homes and living with a mother struggling with mental illness. At 18, she was emancipated and instantly became homeless. But her track coach stepped in with encouragement and the hope of the gospel. She became a four-time state champion in track and field, and graduated from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, on a full-ride athletic scholarship.

Now she is a wife, the mother of two biological children and one adopted young adult, and an advocate for survivors of foster care, human trafficking and abuse. She and her husband are the founders of the Fostering the Good scholarship at her alma mater, and in 2020 they founded the Beloved Initiative, a nonprofit that helps marginalized people and victims of trauma share their testimonies through speaking engagements and writing retreats so they can see how powerful it is that the worst parts of their lives can be used for good

Words of encouragement are so important,” Petersen says. “Words are life and death. Speak life.” 

This past year she told her story in her bestselling memoir Fostered and was named Mrs. Universe 2022. She continues to build healing spaces and communities for survivors.

Joel Muddamalle

Charlotte, North Carolina
Occupation: Director of theology and research at Proverbs 31 Ministries
Age: 37

Joel Muddamalle spent a good portion of his life just trying to fit in. He was born in Chicago to immigrant parents, but spent two and a half years of his early life with his grandparents, four aunts and two uncles in India. His earliest memories are of watching his grandparents preach the gospel in rural villages in India, and his first language was Telugu. 

When he returned to the States, he felt different from everyone else. But that fish-out-of-water childhood helped him see past petty divisions in the church, and allowed him to deepen his theological knowledge by learning from several different streams of the faith—undergrad at a Pentecostal college, seminary at a Presbyterian institution and a PhD from an SBC seminary. 

“The biggest thing I learned in the process is that there is so much more that connects and unifies u