Christian rapper to highlight programs at growing youth ministry

Forge Youth & Family Academy is bringing in Christian rapper B-SHOC for a free show at the Selbyville Fire Hall on Monday, Sept. 5. The Selbyville-based ecumenical family ministry hopes to send area students back to school with a boost of energy and a renewed attitude, according to Forge leader Rob Shrieves.

“B-SHOC,” whose real name is Bryan Edmonds, is known for his high-energy shows featuring such songs as “Jesus Jump,” “Hands in the Air” and “Christ-Like Cruisin.” Shrieves said he saw him in concert in the area last year and was impressed, and reached out to him for a Forge-sponsored event. “The kids really connected with him,” Shrieves said.

The past year has been one of growth for Forge, which is currently housed in the House of Mercy in Selbyville. From three youths a year ago to about 78 on the rolls now, Forge began with the acknowledgement of a need for youth programs, Schrieves said. Average attendance at Forge events, which include weekly gatherings, as well as special programming, is about 30 to 35 youths.

The Forge ministry is an outgrowth of youth programing at The Odyssey church, also in Selbyville. The ministry is ecumenical, and Shrieves said he includes a “life lesson with a Bible lesson” at each session, but he emphasized that attendees are not required to believe one way or another, or at all.

Shrieves said the first goal for the Forge Academy was simply to serve “some kids who basically just needed some guidance.”

Forge Academy’s mission expresses that goal equally as simply: “Breaking the cycle through positive decision-making.” Shrieves, who is a corrections officer in Maryland, said he has seen over the years how bad decisions perpetuate more bad decisions throughout the life of a family.

Something as simple as offering a meal for youths and their families every week, Shrieves said, is making an impact. “Some of the kids had never sat around a dinner table together with their family,” he said.

In addition to empowering youths to make better decisions, Forge has begun a program called “Rewind” in which individuals who might currently be dealing with consequences of faulty decisions can move forward toward a more positive life.

Forge also supports parents with its programs, Shrieves said. In addition to the Rewind program, Forge plans to offer a family support group, which will address various issues, including addiction in families, single parenting and budgeting assistance.

Another part of Forge’s outreach is a hotline that will be open 24/7 and will be designed as a safe space for questions, problems or concerns. Shrieves said the idea came from the “say anything” area his mother established outside their home when he was a child. Anything, no matter how negative, could be said in the “say anything” area, but it had to be put away before entering the house, he said.

Shrieves added that the hotline follows Forge’s goal of preventing bad decisions. He said he hopes that community members will feel free to call it and talk things out “so that you never have to make a bad decision” again.

The B-SHOC concert will begin at 6 p.m. in the Selbyville Fire Hall; doors open at 5 p.m. All are welcome, and admission is free. Forge Youth & Family Academy meets each Friday at 6:30 at the House of Mercy, 36674 DuPont Highway, Selbyville. For more information, call Robert Shrieves at (443) 366-2813 or Tara Bartlett at (443) 513-1048, email or check out the organization’s website at