Archive for the category “Mentoring”

Fathers for the fatherless

Angela Lu reports in World magazine:

John Smithbaker stands under the wide Wyoming sky teaching 7-year-old Brayden, a fatherless boy, how to swing a bat. He shows Brayden how to plant his feet. He switches the position of Brayden’s hands on the bat. Brayden swings and misses. Smithbaker readjusts him, again and again.

That’s what dads commonly do, but Brayden is living with his grandma and was without a father-figure in his life. That changed last December, when Smithbaker started meeting with him weekly through Fathers in the Field, an organization he founded that pairs mentor fathers with fatherless boys.

During their meetings Smithbaker teaches Brayden about their heavenly Father and prepares him for an antelope hunt at the end of the year. Brayden eats dinner at Smithbaker’s house and helps his mentor’s 12-year-old son with his paper route.

Brayden’s grandma says he now helps around the house and always reminds her to pray before meals.

As she was explaining that Brayden has “learned that it’s OK if his earthly dad left, his Heavenly dad …”—Brayden cut her off and finished the sentence: “He stays by my side all the time and never leaves me.” Father in the Field aims to help 7- to 17-year-old boys like Brayden by pairing them with mentor fathers from local churches. Mentor fathers need a pastor’s reference, community reference, and background check.

The program lasts three years. The pairs meet at least four times a month: Twice to attend church, once for community service to widows, and once for outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, camping, and fixing car motors. At the end of the year, mentor fathers bring their boys, called field buddies, on a three-day trip that culminates their training.

The major benefit, said Smithbaker, is the relationship that develops through these activities. By gaining a boy’s trust, he notes, mentor fathers can tell them about the love of their heavenly Father and the need to forgive their earthly abandoner.

 Read the rest of this great story here.

His judge became his mentor

Kurt Streeter reports for the Los Angeles Times:

In 1996, when Michael Banyard was arrested with what was literally a sliver of crack, California’s unforgiving three-strikes law kicked in. Convicted of his third felony, Michael received the mandatory sentence: 25 years to life.

His last chance came down to an appeal filed in federal court that landed on the desk of Judge Spencer Letts. Federal judges are inundated with such appeals and almost never reverse convictions. But Letts, then near 70, isn’t known for following the pack. In 2004, calling the punishment “cruel and unusual” for such a small amount of drugs, he ordered Michael freed.

The judge did something else too: He asked Michael to meet with him in chambers. Letts wanted to know more about the man he’d pulled from prison. The upshot: Letts became Michael’s mentor.

What a bond they formed. White and rich, Letts has the look of a professor emeritus at Harvard. Black and poor, Michael was a former Compton Crip with a barrel chest and a body scarred by bullets.

Read the rest of the story here.

Learn more about the Los Angeles Dream Center here.

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