2012 Krista Colleague Mike Davis spends his days equipping youth to use art to process trauma. Read how he's discerning his next step in growing his vision for service.
Because music got Mike Davis ‘12 safely through a rough adolescence, he's passionate about helping young people to engage, create, and communicate through arts and performance.
While serving with Urban Impact in Seattle, he began to see how the arts could go deeper. Many of the middle schoolers he worked with didn't know how to process their pain in a constructive way. Using hip hop, Mike saw firsthand how students could "get stuff out of them and into a song or a spoken word piece." Releasing their feelings through art helped them process trauma.
As well, students found in Mike a mentor who understood where they came from and what they were dealing with at home. As he writes in "Where I am from"
Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,
Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,
Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,
How come YOU get to and I can't,
From songs I didn't like but was forced to dance,
From, if another cop looks at me that way I'ma...
From, never mind, I'll just avoid that drama.
One day, a girl who had shared her journal with Mike--including an entry that talked of suicide--came to see her counselor. Told that the counselor was out, she asked to meet with Mike instead. You can't, was the reply-Mike is not certified.
"She needed someone, but on paper I wasn't certified to talk with her," Mike remembers.
Stung by the response, Mike enrolled in Bellevue College. But the road to credentials in art therapy would be long. Aiming for a graduate degree would mean "pounding it out for the next 8 to 10 years, doing my prerequisites and transferring to university."
And unlike many students, Mike's full-time studies joined an already long list of responsibilities as a full-time worker, musician, and dad to his 5 year old son.
A year into his studies, Mike began to wonder if this was what God had in mind for him. After wrestling with this question during the January Debriefing and Discernment retreat, Mike is choosing to put school on hold for now.
"I know what art and music did for me as a teen, so I want to connect performing art and visual art to help kids process major or minor trauma," he says. "That's still my vision, but God is calling me to pick another route, and it's slowly making sense."
During his six years in Seattle, Mike has built relationships with many different community organizations. Connected to faith-based and secular nonprofits as well as the public education system, he is well positioned to use the arts to make a difference in the lives of young Seattle residents.
Now a drop-in coordinator for the Seattle Union Gospel Mission's Youth Reachout Center, Mike thinks that the route God has in mind for him might be less traditional. "It's like God is saying, really experience this road instead of the one you would naturally take. I feel like if I am obedient to what God is saying, all these pieces will fall in place."