When my Mother enrolled me in the Rites of Passage program, I didn’t understand what I had done, I had good grades in school, I played basketball and I didn’t get into trouble so, I thought I was being punished for something. She told me I was going to have to get up really early in the morning and I didn’t have a choice. Because of that, it took me awhile to begin to like the program and see its value in my life. After some time, I liked having a Champion to talk to, going on the outings, and doing the assignments. Most of all, I understand that the military drills and discipline forced me to become responsible for myself, my actions and developed leadership in my squad. There were so many things that I learned during my year in the Rites of Passage program; however, the most important learning experience that I had was the importance of respecting girls. In the beginning of the program, I would notice many times where girls were disrespected and treated badly by young men, especially at school. I would think it was not good but I wouldn’t do anything about it. Now, if I see disrespect shown towards a girl, I don’t just turn the other way, instead I go over and try to intervene if I can. I have a mother and sisters and I would not like it if someone treated any of them with disrespect. I also have learned the importance of teamwork, hygiene and the power of learning God’s word in the program. The program turned out to be more than just something on Saturday mornings, I realized this when Elder David Medley came to my Grandfather's funeral and represented the ROP program. ROP was a good experience that has given me many opportunities to learn and develop into the young man that God is calling me to be.
Mark Edward Alston, II
I am honored to have the opportunity to submit this letter on behalf of the 2007 Rites of Passage parents and guardians.
Our purpose in life is to love and raise our children in the fear of God. We want the best for our children; we seek to find ministries such as Rites of Passage, which provided support in the area of guidance, Godly counsel and structure for our son’s. Unbeknownst to us, was the fact that we too would benefit from the 2007 Rite of Passage program, and would indeed be blessed by newfound friendships and support provided to us as parents involved in this ministry.
Over the past 10-months, we’ve commended over the Initiates to you the Village Elders, Drill Sergeants, Instructors, Champions and Parent Council members and you have worked diligently in partnership with us to prepare our son’s for manhood. You were chosen by God to be vessels of honor, role models, confidants and friends to each child involved in this program. The task was not always easy, however, your love for the Lord and the initiates is evident and your commitment has been the key to successfully transforming our son’s into men. Thank you for your compassion, labor of love and for your dedication.
Champions, we are indebted to each of you for the time you have spent with the Initiates each Saturday and outside of the program. You have been big brothers, father figures to some, and a listening ear for others. The “Essential Manners for Men” by Peter Post is a golden nugget that was passed on to our son and this book will have an intricate place in his life many years to come.
Mother, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles and extended family, it has been a pleasure to meet and work with you each Saturday morning. It is a blessing to know that my husband and I are not alone as we face middle school challenges, and wonder whether or not we are making the best, or correct decision for our son. The experiences we shared during parent meetings and our early morning chats have truly helped me to better understand adolescence peer pressures, college goals and all of the resources available to our children.
Initiates, thank you for embracing the visions and goals of your parents. The picnic, each trip, camp, baseball outing, suicide drill, classroom lesson were strategically planned to ensure your matriculate into manhood with Godly tools. You have been equipped to stand your ground when you are tempted or challenged. Stand firm in truth, in righteousness, and in the gospel of peace. Be faithful to God, remember to pray always and walk upright before Him and others. You are trendsetters, leaders and most of all, Godly men.
Mary H. Cates