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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Fathers, Sons and Royal Rangers

Mentoring ministry promotes family bonds for nearly half a century

By Jordan Schrandt
June 19, 2011

Jose Maldonado says he wouldn’t trade a single day spent with his four sons in Royal Rangers for any other activity. Maldonado and his sons — Lucas and Jacob, 16; Matthew, 14; and David, 12 — are actively involved in the Royal Rangers Outpost at Lifeline Assembly of God in Radcliff, Ky. They are among the thousands of father-son sets benefiting from the camaraderie-building, discipleship-training, faith-growing organization.

In 1962 the Assemblies of God established Royal Rangers to help boys cultivate a deep foundation in God’s Word, prayer, worship and spiritual growth through a variety of activities. Royal Rangers’ founders recognized that boys benefit most from a curriculum immersed in action, adventure, hands-on training, and mentoring from older Christian men in the church, often their own fathers.

“Although boys can and need to learn Christian manhood from a community of men, no man is as important in the life of a boy as his own father,” says John Hicks, national programs coordinator for Royal Rangers. “The chief component in a boy’s journey to manhood is dad — his modeling, his involvement.”

“It’s awesome that my dad is involved in Royal Rangers with me,” says Lucas Maldonado. “It makes our bond stronger.”

Matthew Maldonado adds that Royal Rangers has allowed him not only to spend more time with his dad but also to know him better.

The Rangers program starts for boys at age 5 in Ranger Kids and continues until age 18. Luis Batista of New York City has been a part of Royal Rangers since 1985, when his son, Alexy, was 12 years old.

“The Royal Rangers program has made our bond as father and son stronger,” Luis says. “I am glad I had a major part in instructing him through life, but it was Royal Rangers that allowed me to mold him into the man he is today. I could have prioritized other activities like baseball, soccer and football, but none has the biblical fundamentals that the Royal Rangers program has that brought us closer to God together.”

The legacy of God-fearing leadership lives on through Alexy, now 38 with a son of his own in the program. Alexy is also the Royal Rangers Outpost coordinator for his own church.

Shane Barrett of Trinity Fellowship Church in Sharpsburg, Ga., is another father who has fostered relationships with his three sons: Joshua, 20; Dylan, 18; and Jonathan, 16.

“It was easier for me to have all three sons at different ages involved in Royal Rangers because time is limited with three boys,” says Shane. “One of my best memories is when my youngest son, Jonathan, received the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues during an altar call at a pow wow.”

Shane’s sons — including Dylan, who recently received a nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point — note the significance of their father’s involvement in Royal Rangers in drawing the family closer together.

Harry Hawthorne and his son, Nate, of Grace Assembly of God in Bel Air, Md., have been involved in Royal Rangers together since 1999.

“I was a new Christian at the time with a new son,” Harry recalls in describing the first few months as a volunteer at his church’s outpost. “I had never been very interested in children before we had Nate, and I didn’t see myself as a skilled father, much less a commander for a group of boys.”

When Harry was 9, his father died unexpectedly. As he grew into manhood he searched for a godly man he could look up to and strive to be like, he says, but he never found one. Soon after Nate’s birth, Harry accepted Jesus as his Savior. He determined to be an example, leader and friend to all the boys under his command in the Rangers program — especially his own son.

“The Royal Rangers program naturally brings fathers and sons together,” Harry says. “From the campouts and hiking trips to the book work, you work as a team on earning merits — the father as the instructor, and the son as the student.”

As Nate has grown, Harry has watched his son reach the point of being able to do a lot of the work on his own. Nate, now 13, is coming alongside his dad and learning how to teach and lead others.

Nate’s best experiences in Royal Rangers aren’t centered on his friendships or adventures with his peers but experiences with his dad.

“One of my favorite memories was hiking 15 miles of the Appalachian Trail as a requirement for my hiking merit,” Nate recalls. “Being involved in Royal Rangers with my dad is awesome because we get to work together, spend time together and do really awesome stuff together.”

Hicks says fathers who are actively involved in their sons’ lives will form bonds of companionship that serve as a foundation for the rest of their lives. Indeed, the ministry to boys has a lifelong impact, according to fathers who have seen their sons mature into young men.

“As my son grew older and wasn’t in Royal Rangers anymore, I still saw in him the results of being in the program,” Luis Batista says. “I see his behavior around others and how he implemented the Royal Rangers tenets and codes.”

“Royal Rangers has, without a doubt, allowed me to see the challenges and leadership opportunities my sons have been put through,” Jose Maldonado says. “This gives me more confidence in their abilities to resist temptation and peer pressure and to make better choices.”

JORDAN SCHRANDT lives in Blue Springs, Mo., with her husband, Doug, and their five children. She adopted Doug’s five children upon her marriage after their birth mother died.

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