By: Lena Richee

This Father’s Day we celebrate life and the gift of fatherhood. It is a blessing to be a father, a command that stems from the very first blessing in Genesis 1:28 when the Lord said, “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” It is a divine mandate that is under attack by the lies of the enemy. Lies that say you are alone, that you have no choice, that you just can’t do it. ThriVe is an organization that works hard to push back against fear and reveal the truth: you are not alone and you do have a choice. ThriVe’s Parent University offers classes in parenting and life skills for pregnant women and their partners. In addition to social services, and referrals for housing, medical care, counseling, utility assistance and food, they work with expectant mothers and fathers alike, to help them receive the blessing the Lord has given them and equip them for success!

Longtime church member Leon Harris has devoted his time and talents to prepare these future parents for success. Previously, Harris oversaw a prison ministry and worked diligently with other pastors and local businesses to help hire men he’d mentored once they were released. He joined ThriVe after hearing about their dire need for male volunteers and mentors. For the last 14 years he has been serving with them and currently helps to lead their Parent University program at Grace Church.

Parent University has three chapters in St. Louis where volunteers work with women and their partners to help equip them for the future. The classes meet once a week beginning in September and conclude with a graduation ceremony the following September. During that time parents have the opportunity to earn baby bucks as an incentive. They can earn these in a variety of ways, such as coming to meetings, completing homework, turning in notes, attending service, or bringing their support person. These baby bucks can later be used at a store to buy a multitude of items the baby will need, such as diapers, baby clothes and formula.

 

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

 

So, what does this have to do with fathers? At the Parent University the dads are split off to learn separately from the moms, allowing them to receive training targeted to their needs. They learn how to best support their partner, including topics such as how female hormones work and how to react if mom sometimes seems a little irrational. The men also learn about nutrition, how to make healthy meals, and how to be a good role model to their current and future children. Often this kind of support is something that is only given to the mother, but ThriVe recognizes that fathers have an equally vital role in the health and wellbeing of the family. These lessons are essential in equipping fathers with the tools necessary to be successful in this next stage of life.

Society today continues to tear down men and fatherhood. The enemy would have us believe that the family unit is not important, but the Word of God teaches us better. In 1 Corinthians 1:28 it says, Christ is the head of man, man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ. Fathers are essential. When fathers are removed from the equation, women and children suffer. The goal of ThriVe and its volunteers is to be the friend that stands in the gap to support and guide both parents, for that sake of the family as a whole. As a mentor for the dads in the program, Harris looks forward to mending families and always makes himself available for the men in his group. He wants to show them that “there is life outside the box” that many believe they are trapped in. “Some men have never been in a group of men that was positive, so this strikes a chord with them, that they can come into a circle full of love, faith, integrity and prosperity,” says Harris. Working with ThriVe allows him to be a first hand witness to the impact he is making in their lives. It’s so much more than just providing a helping hand during a difficult time. By volunteering, Mr. Harris is able to show young men how to be good role models for their families and teach them how their actions affect generations. He walks alongside them to provide support in every area of life, growing a community of faithful, spirit-filled fathers to lead the next generation.

A Real Thrive Family

ThriVe desperately needs more male volunteers. If this strikes a chord with you, please consider leading a group to support the next generation of fathers. Or for those looking to get involved in other ways, please consider preparing a meal once a month, providing healthy snacks to an already existing group, or donating clean baby clothes, other baby related items and Bibles. ThriVe is also looking for volunteer speakers who specialize in various aspects of life, whether that be finances, relationships, car maintenance, how to protect children, etc. If you think you have information parents may need in any area of life then please reach out to Bernice Harris at the number below.

Finally, as we celebrate our fathers later this month, let’s all take some time to pray over this ministry, over the volunteers, and over the families. Pray that the love and support the men experience here settles in their heart, and produces abiding faith in Jesus that will continue to endure from generation to generation.

Contact Information:
Bernice Harris: 314-629-5402
Leon Harris: 314-629-2766
ThriVe: 314-773-4626

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