MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Thursday, July 26th.
Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: The next story in our series on the 2018 Hope Award winners.
Yesterday we highlighted the northwest winner—Windswept Academy in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Today, we travel to Danbury, Connecticut, for the northeast Hope Award winner.
WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has our story.
AUDIO: Sound, “We’re trying to write riddles..”
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Pathways Danbury Youth Ministries is a mentoring program for young adults in difficult situations. It began in 1997 as a boys-only program, operating in one of the most expensive cities in the nation.
Today, Pathways is now a six-year program that serves 50 middle-school and high-school boys and girls with one-on-one mentoring and tutoring.
Horace Hough is the director of the boys’ mentoring program. He says many of the young men are skeptical that their mentors will stick with them.
HOUGH: They’ve gotten in trouble, they’ve gotten in severe trouble, and they go, “Well, looks like everybody’s going to leave me to the wayside.” And we tend to stick with the kid. We’ll even show up in court just for support.
Hough says that’s part of what it means to be a mentor.
HOUGH: It requires not only commitment to the young man and to know that you are here to love that young man, but it also requires an understanding of how you live out your faith, how you live this love, how do you really embrace them. And you pray with them and you keep letting them know that, look, you’ve made mistakes but we’re going to stick with you.
Since Hough began mentoring, he’s seen the program grow, and young men thrive. And as the program has grown, parents want to enroll their children.
HOUGH: We are constantly trying to live out our faith through not just the message of Jesus Christ but how we help these kids and the parents know that. So they don’t feel like there’s some alternative agenda, like there’s some system they have to worry about. They know we’re about the kids, so they’re comfortable bringing their kids to us.
Hough says parents were initially inclined to use the mentoring program as a way to dump their son and his problems on someone else. But the program only works when parents work with their sons’ mentors.
HOUGH: When I talk to these parents for the mentoring program, I immediately tell them, “Listen, I’m here for the kid, but I need your involvement. If you’re not participating, this doesn’t work”, though we have a mentor, we have a parent, we have a mentoring director, and we’re all coming together for this kid.
As Pathways has grown, parents have come to better understand how the program works. Many parents are now sending more than one child to Pathways.
HOUGH: Now we have the third sibling coming in and saying, “I want to go to Pathways!” And it just shows the impact, that people look for it, and that kids are looking to want to be part of it.
And over the years, leaders began to identify more needs. Now eight ministries, thousands of volunteers, and 26 local church partners work together. They provide education, pediatric healthcare, counseling, addiction recovery, housing, and meals.
Jericho Partnership is the umbrella group over all those ministries. The name comes from the parable of the Good Samaritan, which takes place on the road to Jericho.
The ministries are all housed in a maze-like warehouse. In one section is Pathways Academy, a Christian middle school with 40 male students.
A sign in one classroom displays an acrostic of Christ. Courteous & Respectful. Hopeful & Confident. Resourceful & Goal-Oriented. Inspired & Close to God. Sexually Pure. Trusting in the Lord. Together the phrases describe the “men of honor” the school is cultivating.
Everette Hutchins is the headmaster of Pathways. He says boys carry the “men of honor” code beyond the schoolhouse walls.
HUTCHINS: When our boys are outside of this building, they have to keep this code, that patch that they were, you know, it was representative of all of us here.
One mom says she notices the way her son’s behavior has improved.
AUDIO: And I’m a witness as a mom that when the boys together outside of school, you can see how what they learn at school, they take outside of the scope of their peers as being a little disrespectful. The other two will speak up and say something or look out for one another as well, which says a lot.
None of Jericho’s work would be possible without community support. Carrie Amos, the president of Jericho Partnership, says the longtime mayor of Danbury is a supporter. And so is the local public school’s superintendent.
AMOS: The superintendent of the public school said, I will sit on your board for a period of three years to get this going because, if anyone can do it, the church can do it.
Church partners provide financial support and help Jericho identify community needs.
AMOS: And so some of our pastors are really able to help us understand what their needs are and how we can serve and not get in the way and not enable. So it’s, it’s really helpful to have 26 pastors.
Having ministries in one building helps them collaborate. Girls at the Hopeline pregnancy center can walk down a hallway to the teen mom ministry, YoungLives. Pathways Academy boys can get immunizations at the pediatric clinic. Boys from the school have started going to Young Life, and boys from Young Life have enrolled in the school.
Carrie Amos says all of this overlapping builds “covenant” relationships. And the goal of the organization is to be a lifeline to young men and women in the hopes that they might come to know the Lord.
AMOS: We’re swimming upstream, but the force with which we’re swimming is powerful.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.