Answering the Call
In 1962, God called upon a man from North Texas to establish a ministry that over time would minister to untold numbers of boys and men. At the time, single parent households were on the rise, and it seems as though God had placed this prophetic message within the hearts of Johnny Barnes and the Assemblies of God that a forthcoming explosion of single parent households would soon grip the country and add a strain on the youth of the United States. Between 1960 and 1975 the number of single parent households more than doubled with 4.9 million single parent homes recorded. Fast-forward 40+ years to 2016 and the problem has grown significantly. During the last census over 17 million children under the age of 18 (or roughly 1 in 4) in nearly 12,000,000 families were reported as being raised in a single parent home, of which over 80% were headed by single women.
There are many reasons why we see over 80% of these homes led by women, but above and beyond any specific reason we clearly see a significant gap in male leadership within these homes. This has led to significant and serious issues within our society, and while the statistics paint a fairly clear picture of the problem it should be stated that these single mothers are not the reason that we see the statistics that we do. While the number of single parent homes has risen dramatically since the 1960’s, another troubling statistic has paralleled that increase, as over the past 30 years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers.
The evidence of the professional literature is overwhelming: teenage criminal behavior has its roots in habitual deprivation of parental love and affection going back to early infancy. Future delinquents invariably have a chaotic, disintegrating family life, which frequently leads to aggression and hostility toward others outside the family. Many Royal Ranger leaders may have experience dealing with these types of situations and can attest to the amount of pain and heartbreak that ensues as these actions play out. In my personal experience some of these situations have thus far had a relatively positive outcome, with only a small few resulting in negative ones (prison time, abandonment of family, etc.…).
So why all of this information? It can be said that at no time in history has a ministry like Royal Rangers been more important to the Church or society at large as it is now. However, “Houston, we have a problem”… In 1962 great leaders established a proven formula for reaching, teaching, and keeping our youth from the criminal statistics and broken families that we so often hear about today, but that ministry is largely ineffective without men to lead it. In churches all across our great country, thousands of boys attend at church where the men in that church interact with or involve them very little, removing precious opportunities to learn and know what it feels like to be loved and appreciated by a Godly man. Many of these same boys go home each evening to a home with no father, no godly manhood from which to learn, and yet are expected to live up a pre conceived notion of what a Christian man looks like. It should be noted that these “churches” of which I speak are not specifically outside of the Assemblies of God, which highlights another problem, and that is the lack of participation we see within our own affiliated organizations.
The truth is, without intervention and the intentional efforts of Godly men, these statistics will likely not improve, but degrade over time. So what do we do about it? Similar to what it says in Mark 16, we must as Royal Rangers leaders go into the all of the world and let our communities and friends know about what we do and how they can help. This includes our own churches… We need more men than ever to be trained and join the ranks of Royal Rangers leaders all across the world so that we can reach more boys and men than ever, more effectively than ever. We cannot afford to be a men’s club that keep our meetings in secret or a Wednesday night classroom confined to reading and writing. We must be the ministry that the leaders before us established to reach, teach, and keep boys for Christ.
Our mission is to evangelize, equip, and empower the next generation of Christlike men and lifelong servant leaders. We cannot do this in a vacuum, and we cannot expect the older men in our church to take responsibility for this alone. This is a task that will require men of all ages, all backgrounds, and all talents working together the way that God intended to mentor boys and young men, providing them a glimpse of what it looks like to not only talk about living a life of following Christ, but through seeing our actions which will speak louder than our words.
Never underestimate the influence that a Godly man can have on a boy’s life. As a boy who grew up in a single parent home, I can attest to the power of Godly manhood in the lives of our young men. Most of the men in my life that have had the greatest impact on me have been men that I met in Royal Rangers, and I hear this from other men all the time. If we have that kind of impact on one another, imagine how much more of an impact we can have on the boys and young men in our communities.