In the last newsletter I was able to share about the doors the Lord is opening for us to work with at-risk and gang affiliated kids in the Aiken county school system. I’ve been in vocational ministry for 16 years, and never have I been so surrounded by young men interested in hearing the gospel. Once you understand their situation in life, it’s easy to see why they are open to a better way of life.
One has only to Google the statistics on fatherlessness in America to see that we are currently experiencing a moral crisis in our nation of fatherless children. The lack of a positive father or father figure in the lives of these young men (and many young women as well) results in a skyrocketing of the chances they will enter gangs, commit crimes, abuse alcohol and drugs, have psychological problems, etc. The saddest statistic for these kids is they will most like have children at a very young age out of wedlock and thus perpetuate the fatherlessness cycle.
However, these are no longer statistics to me, but the face and lives of so many young men I work with. I am aware that I cannot be a father to these children. But, I do make myself available to walk through life with them. Many of the obstacles in life they experience are common to all men. I simply offer some life wisdom as to different options they have in making life choices. I also try to model the Christian life in front of them so that they see faith in action. This is vital to them understanding the gospel. Most have no concept of what the authentic Christian life encompasses.
What I do is not rocket science, it’s a simple approach to the great commission and discipleship. Meet the kids, get to know them by hanging out with them, and then make myself available to them as I share the gospel and the Christian worldview. Any man or woman who is called to make disciples can do this. In my opinion, it is the church’s responsibility to be doing this……and we see the results of disobedience on the churches part when we see fatherlessness at the highest point in the history of our country. Here is a challenge: do a word search of “fatherless” in the Bible and the believers’ responsibility. If you do this, and consider the churches neglect of this subsection of our society, you can answer the question a former gang member Christian asked me:
“why is it that all these churches are declining and dying, while gangs and gang recruitment are at their highest levels ever?”
Rev. Mark Epps – Juvenile Justice Ministry Advancement [email protected]