Is it Time For a “Boot Camp” to Educate Our Men?
By Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.
Vice President/ Education Editor
Whether than building families through education, jobs and community resources, an astoundingly decision is being made in the U.S. to build prisons based on the reading proficiency of students on standardized tests, particularly boys in the third grade. In the midst of this, we are seeing a recurrence of citizens’ unrest throughout the country with little or no real innovation to eradicate the problem. For this special feature, the critical questions to be asked are: Is it time for a “Boot Camp” to educate our men? How can a “Boot Camp” transform our men?
God’s church has always been the solution to all of our problems whether people are troubled or overwhelmed with worldly challenges in the home, school or community. Under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Dr. Frederick Newbill, First Timothy Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., participated in a 7-week Men’s Spiritual “Boot Camp” at the church and held its first graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 3.
The mission of the “Boot Camp” is to equip men to face life challenges through spiritual guidance, character development and economic empowerment. Using a multi-generational approach where young men are learning along with more mature men, the acronym for “Boot Camp” stands for “Because of Other’s Testimony, God Answered my Prayer.” This was evident at the ceremony as men at the “Boot Camp” testified how the program has helped them to deal with challenges in their lives involving the home, school and the community.
One attendee discussed how he struggled with school and redirected his focus because of the teaching he gained from the “Boot Camp.” Another attendee talked about how he struggled with a divorce but found comfort and peace through the word offered at the “Boot Camp.” Newbill shared a testimony of a “Boot Camp” attendee at First Timothy who decided to “Pay it Forward” and start a Boy Scouts Club like he was afforded as a child.
Pastor Darryl Webster of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church (EMBC) in Indianapolis, Indiana was the guest speaker for the ceremony who is also the founder of the “Boot Camp.” It was in 2005 that Webster saw a need to challenge men to rise to the responsibility that God has given them regardless of their status in life. He instituted the first “Boot Camp” at EMBC where over 200 men met daily at 5:45 a.m. for 21 consecutive days and where lives were transformed and marriages repaired. The “Boot Camp” concept has been adopted by several churches throughout the U.S. with First Timothy being the first church in Florida.
As a model for other churches to follow, Webster spoke about why it is critical to have a “Boot Camp” in all of our church communities. To do such, Webster said it will take collaboration, innovation, implementation and cooperation from the leaders and other constituents of the church. He also said community stakeholders can play a vital role in supporting the ministry. While in attendance at the ceremony, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey indicated that, “The ‘Boot Camp’ is a good initiative, and she would rather see men in a program of this nature rather than in the court room.”
Webster advocates for other churches to start a “Boot Camp” rather than rely on the government to meet our community needs. He said, traditionally, the church has always been a beacon of hope for the community. It has consistently demonstrated the “power to do more than any political system.” He reminded us how the church built schools and colleges to educate its own members before and after the civil rights era. Simply, “we have to come together to deal with the plight that our grassroots Urban communities are facing through real innovation that addresses the needs of Black men,” said Webster.
The First Timothy Baptist Church is an example of what can happen when ministries such as the “Boot Camp” are created and implemented through God’s church. Considering the state of our economy, the time is right to support and fund programs that have a positive impact on citizens especially Black men. The “Boot Camp” orchestrated by Pastor Darryl Webster emphasizes the belief that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us.” For further information about the “Boot Camp” visit: Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church at: http://www.emmanuelmbc.com/
Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of nine books, “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education,” “How to Eradicate Hazing,” “Professional Career Paths,” “Your Answers to Education Questions,” “How to revitalize the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.” “Completing the Dissertation: Tips, techniques and real-life experiences from Ph.D. graduates,” “Jacob’s Dream, A Story of Careers for Children” and Jacob’s Dream, A Story of Animals in Africa. He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org