“Quiet down everybody I have an announcement to make!”
The familiar sound of dribbled basketballs, squeaky sneakers, and competitive banter echoed as I
attempted to gain the attention of a gymnasium full of 7th and 8th grade boys.
“The Man of the Day is…. Nasir Simmons!” I proclaimed.
The attention of the room immediately shifted in the direction of a slightly built 7th grade boy. I
could tell by his expression that he was astonished to have been picked.
A NEW DAY
Our Manpower afterschool program was created to provide a safe place for the young men of
our community to learn true biblical manhood. Each week middle school boys would join me and faithful
volunteers to enjoy a snack, read a devotional, and play basketball.
Initially, I was a little concerned for Nasir. He didn’t seem to be connecting with the other students,
and when basketball time began, he retreated to the corner of the gym to read. I walked over and
gently asked some questions to get to know him. Nasir shared that he, his mom, and little brother had just
moved to Springfield from Las Vegas, after his step dad was incarcerated. His biological father lived in
New Jersey and he was able to visit him a few weeks during the summer.
I quickly found out how smart Nasir was. He was interested in music and technology but didn’t see
himself as an athlete.
I encouraged him that his fascination in these areas was important. I wanted to help him gain more
opportunities to learn in his areas of interest. I challenged him that as men we will not be great at
everything, but if we are willing to try new things and work on our weaknesses, valuable life lessons can
The next day Nasir decided to join the basketball game. I’ll admit I was a little worried for him at
first; 7th and 8th grade boys aren’t exactly known for taking it easy. We weren’t five minutes into the game
before Nasir had been knocked to the ground twice and hit in the head with the ball once.
I stopped to check on him and he assured me, with a look of determination, that he was ok. He
wanted to stay in the game. Each time he fell he jumped right back up and sprinted down the court.
What Nasir may have lacked in skill and experience he was making up for in hustle. Initially, the
other boys poked fun at him for his exuberance, but after a while he slowly won each of them over. He
was frustrating the more talented boys with his tough defense. He was diving for rebounds and even
made the game winning basket. That day I named Nasir, “Man of the Day” not because of how many
points he scored, but because he displayed the characteristics of a true leader.
The Power of Potential
I was later able to help Nasir apply for a program designed to teach Springfield City School
students skills in audio/video production, as well as navigating peer pressure. Nasir was selected as 1 of 7
students to learn from Center City Studio’s Director, Chad Wilson, and various guest artists. Each student
was also provided a mentor to help them apply their new skills.
Nasir was growing in confidence and making new friends through learning new skills.
He also decided that he would like to start going to church; Fellowship Spring Hill was within
walking distance of his apartment complex.
I asked Nasir to name one thing he wanted adults to know about the youth of Springfield. He
replied, “Don’t think we are dumb just because we are kids.
“The two biggest challenges for me growing up were, and still are to some extent, figuring out how
to fit in and what I want to be when I grow up. I want other kids to know that just because you are different
it doesn’t make you less of a person. If you can find the motivation to care, there are opportunities for you
here in Springfield. When you have faith in Jesus you can know that no matter what happens you are in
Nasir is currently a freshman at Springfield High and is enrolled in our $tart Up entrepreneurship
program. He is aspiring to develop his own video editing business.
The Value of One
We want to see a story like Nasir’s multiplied many times over in Springfield. He is one of many
young people in our city looking for adults to recognize their potential and speak into their lives. Kids like
Nasir are ready for a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When you give to SCYM you are standing with students like Nasir and most importantly standing for
the cause of Christ in our city.
$25 supports one student for one month of SCYM programs.
$50 funds a week of Camp Boost Summer Reading Clubs for one child.
$100 or more helps $tart Up entrepreneurship students launch their very first business.
If you would like to make a monthly gift automatically, it’s easy to sign up on the back of the enclosed
card or through our secure website www.crushtheodds.org
As 2020 comes to a close, would you consider making a donation that will strengthen this mission
and show kids like Nasir how valuable they are?
“Permit the children to come to me; do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” –Mark 10:14 NASB
Because of His grace,
P.S. I thank God for so many people like you who show Springfield kids how valuable they are. I invite you
to consider a year-end gift of $25, $50, or $100 or a one-time gift of any amount, as God leads you.