Cultivating Boys into Men
Rev. Chico McKennedy began working with teenagers in 2005. “I was raised in the church, but I thought it was more religion than relationship. So, I started ministering to the young men where I needed to be ministered to at their age,” Rev. McKennedy said. This passion led to starting FromBoysToMen, a discipleship group at Word of Change Ministries in Spartanburg.
FromBoysToMen creates an atmosphere where young boys are afforded a trusted space that magnifies their strengths while working on their weaknesses. The group focuses not only on emotional and physical needs but also on spiritual needs by offering classes on health, life skills, and healthy relationships. Meeting weekly, Rev. McKennedy picks up some of the boys from school or home, provides a meal, and does a small group session. The young men also play video game tournaments and basketball together. Beginning with three young men in 2018, the program now has a consistent 18 and sees as many as 26 young men during the summer.
Kay’ron Ashe first began attending FromBoysToMen thinking it was just something to get him out of the house. “I started going for about two, three weeks. But once I actually started coming consistently, it was helpful,” Kay’ron said. “As I was coming, Chico was helping me along the way with everything that I needed help with.”
One way that FromBoysToMen helps in their community is by hosting outreaches once a month. “Because of the Janie Chapman Offering, we were able to do the outreach we do,” Rev. McKennedy said. “We don’t charge anybody anything. We don’t even take donations. We just give back to teach these boys to serve.”
Another member of the group, Vincent Lindsay, said that “I just came to play ball, I didn’t know anything about this God stuff. All I knew was that God would send me to hell if I did something bad.” Rev. McKennedy has been a consistent male influence in Vincent’s life and has discipled him on his journey. As a result of this ministry, Vincent came to faith in Jesus and was baptized this Spring. “Mr. Chico’s a big part of my heart. I wouldn’t know what I would’ve done without Mr. Chico,” Vincent said.