By Tera Alston
Special to Inside The Pew

On a daily basis there are thousands of young men of color entering into the prison pipeline. In some cities across our country it

Terrence Alston

has even become an epidemic. Young men of color are being incarcerated in alarming numbers with some studies showing more young men of color being incarcerated every year than graduate from high school.

The million dollar question is: What can be done about this ever-growing epidemic?  There is no quick and easy solution. We are dealing with a complex issue that will require an all hands on deck solution if we truly want to make any type of positive and lasting impact.

Over the years there have been programs instituted to assist young men who appear to be heading down the wrong path. Training programs such as pro-social skills and violence prevention have been instituted in schools and community-based programs. However, it can’t stop there. Additional methods are needed to help rescue the growing number of boys and young men of color entering the prison system.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

A great place to look for these solutions is to research ideas that have proven to work and change lives. One of those solutions is mentoring. There are many studies which show young people who have mentors are more successful throughout their lifetime.

Although 1:1 mentoring is most commonly known, there are other forms of mentoring that can also be used. For example, group mentoring can be used to provide a safe environment for participants to discuss issues with their peers and their adult mentors.

There is one group in Chesapeake, Va., that utilizes this approach to help boys and young men turn away from the path to prison towards paths of purpose.

Boys to Men is a Christian-based ministry at Union Bethel Baptist Church. The ministry reaches out to boys and young men, encircling them literally and figuratively by older men in the church. The organizers also encourage fathers to participate in this circle of mentors. According to Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, there is a “…need for black boys to be surrounded by older, black role models.” Boys to Men has done just that by providing a circle of role models to mentor not only boys of color but any boy or young man in need of a positive role model.

The mission of Boys to Men is simple says Terrence Alston, one of the group’s leaders: “our mission is to mentor and mold young boys and young men…to encourage unity; teach respect for oneself and others, and most of all…to teach young boys and young men to be strong upstanding men in the eyes of God and in their communities”.

Alston is a proponent of mentoring and a supporter of reaching out to young men who are at risk and are on the threshold of the prison pipeline.

The ministry was started in early 2000 by the late Pastor Calvin White. Pastor White tasked the church deacons to become involved up close and personal in the lives of boys in the community. According to Alston, “he wanted us to be their role models instead of rappers and athletes; he tasked us to teach them how to be men.”

As a collective group, the boys and men discuss topics such as anger management, peer pressure, the dangers of drugs, bullying, success in the classroom, their future, dressing for success, and how to explore their feelings. Part of the group’s focus is also based on biblical principles, which is highlighted in their pledge which the boys recite at the beginning of each group. Part of the pledge reads, “I will live my life based on God’s word…Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” Psalm 119:11 (NKJV).

The outcomes are proving that the group’s approach is working. This year, several participants graduated from high school and college and one entered the military. This helps to show that what we see and hear on TV is not true about all boys and men of color. They can succeed and are succeeding towards paths of purpose.

For more information about this ministry, contact Union Bethel Baptist Church at 757-488-3117 or email Terrence Alston atTera Alston mccann1983.ta@gmail.com.

Tera Alston is a women’s ministry leader and human resources professional in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  She also partners with her husband to assist at-risk youth and their families.  She has a BSBA from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Saint Leo University.

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By Tera Alston
Special to Inside The Pew

One of the dark and often dirty secrets that plague our society is domestic violence. According to the National Coalition AgainstErica Hermann, CEO of Inner Peace Christian Life and Marriage Coaching Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience this type of abuse in her lifetime; a statistic that is alarming. Based on these numbers, more work is needed to help those affected by this oftentimes unseen form of violence.

Resources allocated for programs that assist individuals in need have steadily decreased over recent years however, there are still agencies that continue to see the need and continue to reach out. One such agency is Inner Peace Christian Life and Marriage Coaching, a Portsmouth, Va., agency that helps individuals deal with issues that negatively affect their lives and helps them understand God’s plan for their lives. One main focus of Inner Peace is to help women affected by domestic violence. The CEO, Erica Hermann, started the agency because she saw a serious need and realized there were limited places for abuse victims to go for assistance.

While working for years in home health, “I found myself doing more ministering when I went to visit versus anything else,” Hermann said.

Hermann said she sees her work as a ministry not just a business. God was telling her where He wanted her to be; He wanted her to go towards ministry, and she said yes.

Once launching her business, Hermann quickly began to see the layers of issues clients were dealing with. Women would come in for one issue and through coaching sessions, other issues such as childhood sexual abuse and low self esteem would be revealed. When these issues are coupled with current physical or emotional abuse, it makes the path towards healing a long road to travel for many. To help clients down this road, Hermann uses individual coaching sessions along with Bible studies that focus on the biblical truth that God loves them and the beauty God sees in women. Lessons also focus on topics such as the Proverbs 31 woman.

According to Hermann, “a large percent of the women do not know who they are in the eyes of God” and because they are in abusive relationships, many find it hard to believe God really loves them.

Another issue that Hermann helps the women deal with is the jaded view many have concerning submissiveness. This view often comes from years of misinterpreting what the bible truly means about the subject and often times this causes many Christian women to stay in abusive relationships. It may be hard for an abused woman to relearn what submissiveness truly means in biblical terms and to learn that the husband is mandated by God to love their wives as their own body (Ephesians 5:28), not to abuse them. Hermann believes the church can play an important role in helping women get over this hurdle by providing sound biblical teaching about submissiveness, providing domestic violence education to their congregations, and offer support groups.

Hermann’s prayer is that her services will help women get to a point when they are no longer in abusive relationships. To helpTera Alston women get to this point, the agency offers more than just coaching sessions. Inner Peace also provides job training/placement assistance, transportation, assistance finding shelter and other community resources. These added services can be invaluable to a woman fleeing abuse.

Inner peace says a lot about what Hermann is trying to accomplish. To her, inner peace means “to have peace; a peace that God meant for us to have” and her desire is to continue to minister to abused women so they can experience the inner peace that can only come from God.

For more information contact Inner Peace at 757-774-0388 or visit their website at www.inpcoaching.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/innerlifecoaching.

Tera Alston works as a women’s ministry leader and human resources professional in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  She also partners with her husband to assist at-risk youth and their families.  She has a BSBA from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Saint Leo University.