Another week, another tragic headline – at least, that’s how it feels sometimes.
We read Springfield’s tragic headlines – murders, assaults, arrests – and we feel sad, angry, afraid, maybe even numb. And maybe we start to believe there’s nothing we can do to change our headlines.
But that’s not true! There is something we can do. Glimpses of it are happening all over our city. From my seat, I see it happening at SCYM’s Manpower Afterschool Program. Let me tell you about just one young man, and why I feel so hopeful:
“Josh” is a 7th grader on Springfield’s east side. Josh’s dad is in prison. His mom is busy making ends meet and raising him and his three brothers and sisters. She’s had a series of boyfriends Josh doesn’t get along with.
Josh’s life revolves around basketball and rap music. He doesn’t care for school, so he doesn’t really try. Like most of his peers, he wants his life to matter, but the only significant life he can picture for himself is a big-time drug dealer, driving new cars and making millions. Where is Josh’s life actually headed? Sadly, probably prison or death: a tragic headline.
What Josh needs is to see something different — radically different.
That “something different” begins to happen when Josh finds a lunchtime group called Wise Guys at school. Each week SCYM staff member Tyler Worley meets with guys in a small group, shares about his life, and challenges guys to think about the consequences of their decisions. For the first time, Josh realizes the things he’s doing are taking him down a path he doesn’t want.
Tyler invites Josh to Manpower Afterschool Program, which SCYM kicked off in March of this year at a nearby church. A group of young adult men come to Manpower each week, to play basketball with these middle school guys, help them with homework, read a book together, and talk about what it means to be a man.
Manpower is leading Josh to the “something different” that he needs. It’s not just a program. It’s people Josh looks up to, who care about him, who show up, who do things to help him find a different path. It’s a headline-changer.
There are many “Joshes” – real young men with stories much like Josh’s – showing up for Manpower every week. They are hungry for something different! While Josh and the young men like him are going to have their ups and downs, we truly believe that God is changing their trajectories.
SCYM launched out into Manpower this year, after years of dreaming and praying, rooted in the understanding that in order to change the story for our city, we need to change the story for our young men.
We believe that God created these young men not to become tragic headlines, but to become “oaks of righteousness” who will change the fabric of our community as they walk on wise paths.
If you’d like to partner with Manpower to help our city’s young men grow to become oaks of righteousness, here are a few needs:
- Prayer partners
- Adult male mentors for Manpower “graduates”
- Program mentors
- Snack providers
- Manpower investors at $25/month (click here to learn more and sign up to give automatically each month by credit card)
They say the best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago, and the second best time is today. Thank you for being part of the long, slow, important work of changing these young men’s lives — and changing tomorrow’s headlines.