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How Was YOUR Upbringing?

Thursday, May 23, 2024

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“If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” – Wilbur Wright

I was one of the lucky ones. By that I mean that I was raised in a loving and stable home by an industrious father and a supportive mother. Being one of six kids, there was always someone to play with and our 4,000-person, one-square-mile hometown of Merchantville, New Jersey was a small suburban oasis in the shadows of Camden, Cherry Hill, and Philadelphia.

We walked to school, attended church weekly, and joined local civic organizations like Little League and the Boy Scouts. I was never beaten or bullied… and no one I knew did drugs or committed crimes.

Sadly, that kind of upbringing is growing rarer and rarer these days. Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, resulting in fractured families and children being shuttled from one parent to another. Meanwhile, crime rates are soaring and drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions.

That is one of the main reasons why we launched our Living H2O Initiative in 2012. From the experience and insights that I gained from my 35 years of prison ministry, I know that young men who lack positive male role models in their lives are far more likely to wind up behind bars. And so, every Monday night we host an open gym where dozens of at-risk youth engage in pick-up basketball games, hear God’s word, and are mentored by Christian men. They may come for the basketball and the free snacks, but they leave knowing that they are loved by God and us.

My friend, if you had the benefit and blessing of being raised by parents like mine in a loving home in a nice community, be sure to thank God for that. But if you weren’t so fortunate, please know that God loves you and cares for you more than you could ever imagine… and He has a perfect plan for your life.

Regardless of your upbringing, be sure to raise your children in a loving and stable environment. And yes, do whatever you can to reach those who – because of a lack of love, life skills, and role models – are in danger of falling through society’s cracks.

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14 (BSB)

“And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’” Matthew 25:40 (BSB)

- Rev. Dale M. Glading, President

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