My Brother's Keeper of Greater Richmond

"Encouraging Brothers Through the Storms of Life"

April 2014

Journey to Manhood

Adrian Cortez Mayo, Father & Truck Driver

by Monica Haynes

When Adrian Mayo was a 10-year-old growing up in a rough Baltimore neighborhood, his mother bought him a bicycle for Christmas.  “I was so proud to have this bike,” he recalled. “I would ride it up and down the street.” One day, he encountered three teenagers who wanted to take his bike. “I’m sitting on the banana seat and my hands were on the handlebars, but I knew that I wasn’t going to let it go. They actually beat me, busted my nose, blood running down my t-shirt. The more they beat me, the more I would grab tight to the handlebars because I wasn’t going to let it go, I wasn’t going to let them take something that was so dear to me.”

Naturally, his mother was upset when he returned home and wanted to take him to the hospital. She asked him why he didn’t just give them the bike. He told his mother that he couldn’t because the bike meant everything to him. “That’s the passion I have for Christ,” explained Mayo, a truck driver, husband and father of two. “Christ means everything to me and I’m not going to let go. No matter how much I get beat down, I’m just going to hold on tighter and tighter.”

As the third of six children raised by a single mother, he had not yet made the connection between his passion for his bike and his love of Christ, but he did realize at a young age that there was more to life than what was occurring in his neighborhood. “I grew up with drug addicts, drug dealers, alcoholics, womanizers. These men on a daily basis were lost. They were completely lost because of what they did, day in and day out. They were just existing,” Mayo said. But he wanted more than an existence.

Fast forward to March 2010, the Baltimore native is now living in Richmond and is a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church. A fellow church member, Jonathan Washington encourages him to attend a men’s fellowship run by another former Baltimorean, Stephan Hicks. Mayo is skeptical. “I didn’t want to get involved in anything that was going to start and not finish or get into anything in depth,” he said. Still, he decided to give it a try and attend the My Brother’s Keeper men’s ministry of Authentic Manhood. The meeting took place in Hicks’ second-floor home office, a six by ten room, with a desk, a TV, a book shelf. “And the feeling was these are men who are ready to embark on something that was going to change their lives.,” Mayo recounted. “When I came in there, I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere that I was in. It was a feeling of more than just acceptance. It was a feeling of belonging.”

The Authentic Manhood lesson for that evening was about unpacking. When Mayo saw the white pastor in the video, he presumed that there would be nothing in the nothing in it for a black truck driver from Baltimore. But as the pastor began pulling items out of the suitcase, Mayo realized he was wrong. One of the items was a baseball glove, representing a father who was never there to play catch. “I had to do all I could to get [his mother’s] attention, but what I was longing for was my father’s attention. That just devastated me throughout my life, especially as a teenager.” During those coming-of-age years, he recalled having no respect for authority, and thinking that being a man meant no commitment, no integrity and no accountability.

But the connection he made that night, during the Authentic Manhood lesson, was so strong that he remained for another 90 minutes after the session. “As the session ended, I knew right then and there, this was something God was calling for my life. All my hurt, my pain, was coming to the surface and I was going to be delivered from this pain that held me back for all these years,” he said. Mayo prayed, cried and shared his burden with Hicks and his then-wife, Gwen. “This wasn’t just my burden, it was their burden as well and they were willing to go through it with me.”

After beginning his spiritual transformation, Mayo said, the blessings began to flow. Out of work at the time following surgery for a torn ACL, his bills were pressing and his house was in foreclosure, not to mention, he had a wife and two daughters, Joy, 16 and Jewel, 13, to support. But a change in his attitude, he said, led to a better truck driving opportunity with more income than he was earning before. His improved attitude also resulted in an improved home life. His wife, Kim, was always supportive, he said. “It was just me feeling inadequate. When you realize that you were put on earth for a purpose but you don’t know exactly what that purpose is, you feel inadequate,” he said. “My wife did everything she could do. But I had to reach that plateau to be a Godly man to her and a Godly father to my kids.

Now, it is not unusual to find Mayo praying with people in the parking lot of truck stop. He is also part of his church’s homeless ministry, a work that he has a passion for nearly as much as the ministry’s director Elaine Brown. “She’s an advocate and I tell you because of her passion, I want to do more for people. She goes way beyond the call of duty to help them. I’ve never met anybody like that. And she’s not getting paid but that’s where her heart is.”

Mayo has a heart for people, as well. “There’s such a joy in encouraging people, helping people because we need that so much. . . when we show that we care and we’re willing to step out of our comfort zone and reach out, we don’t know what kind of affect that we have on their lives. But when it’s all said and done, there’s a feeling of satisfaction because you’re doing what you were called to do.