“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
This scripture has impacted our ministry more than any other. The real heart of any city is the family unit. God designed the family unit to consist of a father, mother, and their children. The breaking of this design shows up in many forms.
Discipleship first starts at home. As we take this scripture to heart, it brings the focus first to our own children. Making sure our children understand the importance of reading scripture, developing their own personal worship and prayer life. Meeting together as a family for worship, bible study and communion. It also involves the practical discipline involved in making sure each child is progressing well in school, work (or chores), and their contribution to the teams they are committed to in school, life and sports.
How do Athletics and Discipleship mix? Absentee fathers play a central role in many of the systemic problems we face as a community. We have experienced greater impact from taking on roles as coaches than running more traditional christian ministry programs. The role of a coach is a powerful position in a young man or woman’s life. When coaching, we get several hours a week in an intense setting that allows us to really see what is in a young person’s heart. Pushing kids to dig deep and endure the process of becoming better provides opportunities to earn trust with the child and parent.
Knowing how powerful coaches are has lead us to pursue relationships with high school football coaches to see how we can support them in their mission to build competent young men.
Psalm 68 4-6. Rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing.
This has led our ministry to treat each person we minister to as if they were our own son or daughter. This journey has led us to close many of our programs, in favor of more personal and deep interactions. When someone comes to the Lord or is seeking discipleship, we meet with them to engage in their development as a whole person. Having the heart of a Father, means exploring where each person is spiritually, socially, academically, and physically. Our hope is to discern what their purpose is and come alongside them to encourage growth in these for areas that will help them become successful in what God has gifted them to become.
It is one of the keys to the heart of the city.
We get to engage with our community.
Too many of our young men have never seen a faithful husband and father.
Too many of our young men are passed through school, having never been trained academically.
Too many of our young men have never seen someone work hard and consistently to support their family.
Too many of our young men never make it to college.
Too many of our young men have children out or wedlock.
Too many of our young men have been raped or molested.
Too many of our young men are angry and don't know how to handle it.
Too many of our young men end up suspended or expelled.
Too many of our young men end up in jail.
Too many of our young men end up dying an early death.
AF is about seeing our city culture change. We want to see God's culture and order in place. The first step is restoring our men to their biblical position. Sports puts us in a position to have consistent and sustained influence with our families. God ordained the man to be the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18). We desire to see our young men become real men. Men that can take care of their family. Men that are loyal to their wives. Men that correct things quickly when they make mistakes. Men that raise men. Coaching and helping our local coaches puts us in trans-formative positions. We believe that most of our inner city sports programs settle for far less than they should. Excellence is often disregarded and many settle for poorly run and disorganized programs. We are encouraging our leaders and creating cultural change by implementing structure and order in our coaches and teams.