I realize that every person who leads or serves a non-profit, charity or ministry sees their work as vital. Those who risk life and limb to brave the Southern Ocean to protect whales from illegal poaching see their work as critical. The people who live their lives investing countless hours and endless energy into caring for stray dogs and cats feel that their labors are essential. There are people who believe that funding art museums, their local ballet or symphony, and their hometown theater troupe is worthy of your enthusiastic support.
And yes, all of these are worthy causes.
Yet I, admittedly myopic as any other person leading a cause, feel that what we do here at Youth-Reach is not only life-altering, but it is generationally transformational. I believe this because I have witnessed it since 1984 and because I hold the opinion that nearly every tragedy in our society can be traced back to weak or non-existent male leadership.
Yes, just trace it back. Poverty is often traced back to fathers dealing with addictions or simple laziness. A major contributor to poverty is fatherless kids abandoned by the male (not a man) who contributed half of their DNA but did not possess the character or honor to stay in the game and raise them. These “men” can procreate, yet they fail when it comes to establishing a covenant with one woman for life and raising a family as a present, involved and providing dad.
Trace back most violence and you will see a man with a short fuse, unable or unwilling to control his emotions. Look closer and you will likely see that these men were abandoned or abused by their fathers, who provided a poor or negative example to their sons. Men who abuse women were not raised by fathers who honored their mothers, wives, and daughters, but by men who disdained the women in their lives and passed this flaw on to their male offspring.
Homeless men (and I have met and worked with many) were not raised by caring and loving dads who taught them self-control and the benefits of hard work, but by men who were idle, entitled, and gave their lives over to the enslavement of addictions.
Our prison populations, across every state and by the vast majority, are male. Few men in prison today were raised by strong and competent fathers who took their role in their sons’ lives as a sacred mandate. Most men in prison were raised by negligent or abusive fathers… and that is only those who have ever met their fathers. I have heard from many men who have faced incarceration and followed in their father’s footsteps straight into the penitentiary.
It is a weighty task to take on when you purpose to redirect wayward boys. It is a quest that is not for the faint of heart to walk a damaged boy though healing and on to become a full-fledged man who can handle the weight of responsibility. This is what we do here at Youth-Reach every day, both here in Houston and on our campus in south Alabama. We begin with angry, entitled, pride-filled yet empty boys, help chip away the pain, and walk with them while the wounds of the past are reopened allowing to then heal. We hear their horrors and listen as they recall the crushing disappointments of their childhoods.
Our hope is that, on the other end of this painful process, there is a strong young man who emerges to break the generational curses of his family. We hope to see a young man who will one day treasure his wife and involve himself deeply in the lives of his kids; a man who honors the Lord, works hard and gives back.
We don’t start with Sunday School kids or Boy Scouts, so this process is wrought with emotional landmines and heartrending setbacks…but for the ones who find victory, there is nothing like it. Thank you for getting behind us with your prayers and financial support. You are a critical part of our work and we are excited about the future of Youth-Reach!