For over two decades Ken Sylvia of Ceres has been ministering to area youth and high school students – and now he is a self-published author.
In April Sylvia released his 216-page book, “Out of the Box: Discover How God is Big Enough for You.” Paperback copies of the Christian based book are available on Amazon for $20.49. Kindle versions are available for download. He offers a free downloadable workbook as a companion study available on his website, venturingwisdom.com and hopes to have a free audio version available soon for download from the same website.
Amazon’s description of the book notes that Sylvia “unpacks how big God really is and the eight lies that keep Him small in our mind. After 20 years of ministry and leadership experience combined with his own life’s journey, Ken shares what set him free after decades of struggle.”
“In my perspective we tend to put God into a box and then we filter life through the box we put him in,” said Sylvia. “I talk about my life story, the issue my family has been through with my son who has special needs, different experiences at Youth for Christ. My whole premise is that growing in life, maturing in faith, is about learning to let God out of the box and show us that He really is big enough, that He can handle it. Even if things don’t go our way, there’s often a bigger picture that we don’t yet see.”
In his book Ken discusses about how he and his wife were blessed with a son after years of failed attempts to conceive; and how an accident caused the infant to lose oxygen and become severely disabled with cerebral palsy. While doctors said Gabriel would never lead a normal life, “God has worked … some incredible stories out of this kid who can’t walk, talk or eat,” Sylvia said.
Sylvia works full-time as the executive director of Youth for Christ’s region which covers Stanislaus, Merced, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. Through the Christian organization Ken has given countless opportunities to offer hope and healing to young people on and off campuses in the area. The founder of Venturing Wisdom, classifies himself as a “transformational speaker” with a message that can and has changed countless lives.
“I enjoy speaking, I enjoy teaching, I like thinking critically and deeply. While I love my job, it’s very administratively focused so I don’t always get those opportunities and so part of why I did this was it was like a personal goal and I’m part of a leadership forum called Pinnacle Forum …and it’s all about influencing culture. Part of my contribution was to write this book.”
The book writing project started about eight or nine years ago before the birth of his son. He said his original draft “was horrible” but he did a heavy overhaul to include stories relating to his son.
“My goal was just to be able to say that I could do it, so I wrote it.”
A fellow member of the Ceres Rotary Club, who had self-published her own book, caught wind of Ken’s project and encouraged him to follow through with publishing his.
“It’s definitely an achievement. I kind of caught the bug; I’d love to write more in the future.”Ken Sylvia
“It’s been pretty cool,” said Sylvia. “It’s definitely an achievement. I kind of caught the bug; I’d love to write more in the future.”
Ken has used his experiences with his disabled son, who is now seven, to inspire others. He relates that while Gabriel has “incredible purpose and value” his condition shows others “how much more you can change the world and be a positive influence when you can use your words to bring healing, when you can use your life intentionally to help the people around you.”
Before COVID-19 changed life in America, Youth for Christ reached approximately 3,800 students each year between Juvenile Hall outreach, hosting school workshops, mentoring and counseling.
“Some of our programs are faith-based and some of our programs are faith neutral. If somebody is a Christian they’ll recognize some of the undertones and themes that we use. But if you’re just a person in the community, you may not know that we’re using biblical principles in what we do.”
Sylvia grew up in Ceres schools and attended Westport Elementary and Blaker Kinser Jr. High School before transferring to Modesto High School. He lives in Ceres and is a member of Ceres Christian Church.