Children and youth have been my passion since the beginning of my personal ministry in 1988. The labor of love on their behalf has been amazingly rewarding. I have the blessing of still being in a personal mentor/father-figure role with several of the males after all these years. Most now have children of their own, and they are excellent parents! Sadly, that is not the case with many fathers and mothers. One of the consequences is violent crime in our communities.
According to Detective Jordan of the Springfield Police, “The problem is with so many people and so many issues today, especially young people, out shooting people over disagreements.”[i] To help police departments fight violent crime, Ohio Governor DeWine has committed to distributing a total of $200 million in grant money to law enforcement agencies around the state. “The vast majority of crime in this state is committed by repeat, violent offenders. We have to go after them and we have to prosecute them and we have to lock them up for a long, long time,” DeWine said. This is not only a problem in Ohio but throughout the country and beyond.
Getting to the Root Problem
Here is the thing, though. Throwing money at it will not solve the crisis. Arresting, prosecuting, and jailing criminals may help a little, but does nothing to turn off the pipeline that keeps pumping new offenders onto the streets. It never has, and never will. We must go upstream to the source of the supply of violent offenders and stop the flow there. The source of supply? The home. The place where values form, and where the character is developed. With less-than-ideal home lives, many of our community’s youth – both boys and girls alike are in trouble, and they are making trouble for communities. They need fathers and mothers working together to raise them up right – the way the Creator intended. This is the mission of today’s Urban Light Ministries.
As I shared in my 2016 book Father Love – The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs, I am grateful for my dad. He committed his life to faithfully loving his wife and children, even though his father had abandoned his family. Under very difficult circumstances, my father provided for 13 children, all the while serving his church as a deacon. Because of dad’s example of healthy manhood, and the strong Christian fathering of his children despite not having had a good father, I believe in the potential of every man. He has been the inspiration for my work with dads since 2006, and for ULM’s new ministry Fathering Strong.
What is Fathering Strong?
It is a new community where dads can share their stories, learn about effective parenting practices, and become stronger fathers by applying biblical principles. Our local group of fathers meets in person. These dads are receiving and giving encouragement, building bonds, discovering important resources, and preparing to lead their own groups. We are nearing the final stages of the development of the online Fathering Strong community that will be available to dads everywhere on the globe. We are endeavoring to build a better world for children by building strong fathers.
Our vision is that these men will grow as parents assured of the Word’s promise:
“Point your kids in the right direction — when they’re old they won’t be lost.” – .Prov. 22:6 MSG
In partnership with their children’s mothers, they will model Christian manhood and help their kids develop godly character. Within this vision, pre-believing men will find Christ. Men who are new to the faith will find mentors and disciplers. This is an effective way to reduce the number of delinquent youth, youth violent crime, child poverty, and so many other challenges: Help men become better fathers. Reach them where they are… On their smartphones. Before we have officially rolled it out, there are already 50-plus men on the waiting list for dad groups on the Fathering Strong website and app! We need your help.
Will you help?
As with everything worth doing, an investment is required to bring this vision to reality. Our team and partners have devoted a substantial amount of volunteer time, talent and treasure. We are asking you to consider supporting this work through a yearend gift, or an ongoing commitment in 2023. Your contribution will help us reach our goal of getting up and running with the full complement of resources for dads by early next year.
- Your November or December gift of any amount will help us reach our yearend general fund goal of $12,000
- $25 per month will help us provide in person, online and mobile services for fathers throughout 2023
Thank you so very much for your partnership in this work. Learn more about Father Strong by visiting www.fatheringstrong.com.
Eli Williams, Ministry President