Armour Up began in the summer of 2011 in the backyard of a home in University Park. Five boy moms dreamt up the idea of having a fun, interactive Bible study during the summer that catered specifically to the needs of boys. Emails were sent out to a few friends and before long the registration had grown to over 100 boys. These boys met once a week during the summer and studied the concept of ‘putting on the full armour of God’ in Ephesians 6:11-18 (hence the name, Armour Up). Each week had a different theme, such as neon night, Friday night lights, red white & blue, etc. games were played and tons of energy was expended. Adults from the community volunteered to bring snacks & water, and some even stayed to help with crowd control. A committee of five families also met frequently to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. It definitely took a village to pull this off and it was a complete success.
Each summer we have continued to grow and share the gospel with many boys. We now have over 1000 boys who have participated in our program. And the boys who started when they were in 3rd grade are now in high school & are leading the younger boys. (Click here to learn more about our AU CREW.) The members of the CREW have even started an Armour Up Leadership Club at Highland Park High School to solidify their commitment to leading in the community. We look forward to seeing how God will use this ministry to bring our community closer to Him.
Josh Barnard joined our AU family in 2017 as co-executive director. Josh grew up in Los Angeles, California and attended Westmont College where he played on the tennis team for four years. He graduated with a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Occupational Therapy. Josh planned to go to OT school until his first summer working at Kanakuk Kamps. The Lord completely changed his heart that summer and gave him a passion for student ministries. That passion led him to move to Dallas and work with Highland Park KLIFE. Josh has worked three summers at Kanakuk and is in his second year as Chapter Director of Highland Park KLIFE. Josh has a passion for discipleship, knowing Christ, and making Christ known. Josh will never turn down an opportunity to shoot hoops or grab coffee with people and he is thrilled to be a part of the Armour Up team this summer!
Will grew up in Highland Park, including being a proud Bradfield Bronco alumni and graduating from Highland Park High School in 2009. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2012 with a B.A. in Philosophy and minors in Psychology and Religion, and graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in May 2017. Will’s ministry experience includes working as a counselor and Program Director at T Bar M Sports Camp, working in youth ministry at a few churches, being a Young Life leader, teaching a Bible class at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, and founding and leading Iron Sharpens Iron (a ministry at Highland Park High School). In ministry, he is passionate about gospel-centered discipleship (1 Thessalonians 2:8) and servant leadership (Philippians 2:3-11). He is also passionate about his Oklahoma Sooners, Dallas Stars, and Boston Red Sox. Will recently accepted a position in youth leadership at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He remains a part of the family by acting on our Board of Directors.