A prayer supporter sent me a note encouraging Gethsemane level commitment. A probationer holding his own out of our Gainesville class sent me a word of encouragement. A woman ready to throw off a life of drugs and abuse and father abandonment pains asks for counsel. State legislators from 10 states send thanks and ask for personal intercession. 20 men gather at the Jesus House like baby chicks reaching for food to be trained in fathering and family. Thousands read a lesson or encouragement on a variety of facebook, blog, direct mail, and email outreaches. A man looks at me and says, “You mean you can help me not go back to prison for the seventh time if I learn this and use it?” He is tough, hard, rough, and weeping with hope that he can live with his family. A kid in a neighborhood of 80% fatherless homes sees a man in his school wearing a Watch D.O.G.S. t-shirt and smiling at him. The man is a volunteer. He has no children, but he is there. Another desperate dad signs up for Dad’s University. A city council, chamber of commerce, or Rotary Club is informed and updated on issues and answers. A leadership meeting of 80 key community actors in business and government and congregations and non-profits is convened with a national speaker.
Welcome to my normal day. It happens with 3300 state legislators in 34 states. It happens in Marietta, Oklahoma, Gainesville, Texas, Matamoros, Mexico, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where we have campuses in motion to support families. It happens in my home office, my car, on the internet, face to face, in our Marietta and Gainesville training centers, at the Jesus House, at Tulakes Elementary, en las colonias, at CAREVI, in community centers, on the phone and through books. It happens with 14-18 hour days.
At Gethsemane, you need to know you are doing the right thing.
When I filed my taxes, I was confident I would be audited. No one can get all of this done on a ridiculously low level of funding. We did. Last year Community Transformation Initiative brought in less than $40,000. I serve as the secretary, tax consultant, lawyer, accountant, office administrator, business developer, trainer, purchasing agent, event coordinator, writer, webmaster, marketer, counselor, and volunteer coordinator. Everything gets done a little bit. Nothing gets done at the level of excellence for which my heart cries. I am a scrapper, an entrepreneur, an inventor, a visionary, and an organizer. I am relentlessly driven to do the right thing.
At Gethsemane, you need to know your commission.
The commission of Elijah and John, the Baptist and Jesus Christ is to turn the heart of the father to the child. And they’ve handed me and you the baton. I remember the day Dr. Ken Canfield put a baton in my hand to do the work of fathering. I pick it up regularly and say, “Yes, Father.” Every day is a Gethsemane prayer, “Father, this is your child, Phil, nevertheless, not my will, but thine.” Every day requires a miracle to get to the next one. I don’t complain. I’ve watched good man after good man stand up and sit down on this job. I’m still standing. Scriptural principle says, “Do everything as unto the Lord and not unto men. Do it without grumbling and complaining.” I knew when I committed my life as a missionary to men that it would be rough.
At Gethsemane, you sacrifice and sacrifice that others might live.
People love to give to maintain poverty and provide patches. It feels good. Really working at the root and changing men is not popular. Unless the heart of the father is turned to the child our nation will continue to smitten with the curse of abortion, divorce, pornography, abuse, neglect, abandonment, drugs and alcohol. It won’t happen preaching to the church choirs. It will only happen in the dirty, nasty work where D comes. D has four children by four women in four neighborhoods. He looks to change and goes and gets other men like himself. He comes every time I can be in his neighborhood. But $ backing ran out. All we need is a little gas money and income to live. There is probably $2 million a year spent in his neighborhood on after school fun for kids, single mom support, sports engagement, tutoring, and other patches. And he cries for someone to touch his father heart and bring it to life, so he can do all of that with the dignity of fatherhood and the power of love and the equipment of knowledge and the responsibility of being a man. He wants to be the solution. Instead, his family gets maintenance.
Maintenance is good. It keeps the dogs of despair at bay. But it is not working positive community change. The statistics get worse every year. More people depend on benevolence and subsistence, more kids go to foster care, more mentors are needed, and more homes are without fathers. You can’t effect change with maintenance. Maintenance is well, maintenance. It maintains the issues, the problems, and the pain at a tolerable level until our sensitivity and acceptance drops another notch lower and we are drugged into a lull of more maintenance.
At Gethsemane, you do the right thing.
At a low point in the struggle, I sat across coffee with Tom, a veteran of business and community transformation, looking for some wisdom. “Phil, God only asks you to obey. Do the right thing. He is in charge of the results.” There was not enough money in the bank to last another week. When the money runs out, I’ll go back to business. My family deserves a decent living and an available husband, dad, and granddad. They sacrifice me so other families can be strengthened. It is hard. I appreciate my wife and kids and grandkids more than anyone can believe. I missed a family birthday party last week. It hurt. They were fatherless for an afternoon so that others might be fathered. A surprise check from a surprise source put me back to work in the hard zone for another few weeks.
At times, I have to step away from families, let them die, and work a business contract to pay my bills. Those are dark days. They hurt. I don’t mind a little bit and really, staying connected to the results-oriented business mindset keeps me from building an ineffective outreach of maintenance. I’m good at helping businesses organize, fix issues, and market. It is fun. But, it hurts when I have to depend on it and every hour spent there leaves a group of families in distress and dependence on maintenance.
At Gethsemane, you give.
Now, here is your Gethsemane challenge. All it would take to move from struggle to sustaining is 100 giving 100 a month. That is 100, men, women, or businesses giving $100 a month to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. To move from sustaining to impact would take another 100 giving 100. To move from impact to community transformation would take another 100 giving 100. To be truthful, most non-profits with one tenth of our effectiveness operate on more than that. We are excellent stewards and results oriented operators.
The Community Transformation Initiative lives when you give. For over a decade as a businessman, I’ve been the giver, doer, and connector. Now, I need to be the trainer of trainers, organizer, and developer of an impact organization that will outlast all our lifetimes and effect family transformation and move the statistics to the plus side. It needs to happen in the tough zones and it needs to happen now. We are living in a society of increasing fatherless homes, increasing drug and alcohol, increasing violence, increasing poverty, increasing abuse, and decreasing family stability. There are more children fatherless today, who have never had a father, than total fatherlessness in 1960. They are born to women in their 20s and 30s, who have no desire to have husbands. These women are professionals, skilled workers and normal citizens. Their fathers have not been there for them. They are not all welfare recipients. This generation has given up.
Our sensitivity has been dulled into acceptance of this condition. It is not Godly, it is not going to go away by itself, and it must change. It will only change by turning the heart of the father to the child.
The power of change is in your bank account and your spare time. I’ll train you to go out and do the work, if you will enter Gethsemane with me. I’ll take your dollars and train others, if you will enter Gethsemane with me. Give like no one else is giving. Let’s get this effectiveness to thousands and see our community changed.
When I receive your first gift, I will send you a copy of my book, Time To Lead. It is a study of Hezekiah and 54 other world leaders in business, community, government, and military, who worked to transform. Hezekiah effected radical community change through leadership. You can too.
Community Transformation Initiative 508 Tumbleweed Dr., Yukon, Oklahoma 73099