As I stood in the foyer at Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia recently, one of the leaders of the local KOZ group came up. I was watching him while the pastors and others introduced me around. When Kevin first trained, he was not real sure if God was calling him to KOZ. I felt God had called him and that he was more than he knew. That Sunday, a year later, this big burly “guy’s guy” hugged me, and with tears in his eyes told me that his life has changed. That the boys being mentored by he and the other men in KOZ are flourishing. Then, the most amazing thing happened. Kevin’s wife walked up and wanted to tell me just how much the program has changed her husband, as a husband and a father. I was broken and humbled.
Kids Outdoor Zone began as a simple invitation to a boy who had just recently lost his father to join us on a fishing trip. Next, it was a group of boys from a Sunday school class. We invited them to meet us and go fishing. They all came and many brought brothers, sisters and friends. A small group of men began regular outings each month with that rag-tag group of boys. In amazing moments the broken hearts of the lost boys were healed, and the men were moved. Hundreds of kids came to know Christ, found a safe haven in the circles formed around those first KOZ campfires.
The campfire circles continue to grow. Because of the support KOZ has had over the last year, the program has doubled in size. Over 30 churches have hundreds of men serving thousands of fatherless and lost boys. The leaders send stories, pictures and emails of incredible heart felt love for the kids. The men become part of something bigger than themselves. Over 500 men have asked for more information on the program for their church in the last year. Their question is how and when can they begin.
The task now is to prepare for the harvest. As we enter the Thanksgiving season I am asking you to participate with us as we plan our work ahead. We need funds for training materials, technology, and gear for our camps and outings. There are big items like additional staff, a multi-passenger van, a trailer, and a piece of land where we can base our camps and trainings.
I get emails from moms whose sons are renewed and changed because of KOZ. I can read the emotion in their words. I have had leaders call and tell me stories of boys whose fathers have come back into their lives. We don’t know if it’s because another man has stepped in and they are jealous, or if they have found mutual ground with outdoor adventure. Does it matter? A boy reunited to his father. A man changed. A boy rescued. The legacy of your giving is multiplied over and over.
Please give generously as we prepare for the next year, the next harvest. Your gifts are building the foundation, the strong points for this ministry. With your giving we will be able to train more men in more churches as mentors. We will get more kids away from the confines of electronics and introduce them to uneven grounds and a Father who loves them like they have never known.
Enjoy each moment of your Thanksgiving, share with others, and know that the support you are giving KOZ matters. You are part of the foundation of this incredible adventure, an adventure of mighty consequence.
Kids Outdoor Zone, KOZ