Did 2016 go as you planned? For much of the country it did not. It’s been a year of surprises, a year of change and new things, and a year in which the unexpected has occurred with shocking regularity. At the outset of this year, few people thought the country would be divided over the death of a gorilla (Harambe), or that the Cubs would bring their 108-year World Series drought to an end. Almost no one could foresee people walking through town catching cartoon animals with their phones (Pokemon Go), or that we would witness a Presidential campaign race like the one we just experienced.
Here at the PAYH, we have had a few surprises and changes this year too. Some beloved people have left to pursue God’s calling in other ministries, while the Lord has brought several gifted and energetic people to continue advancing His Kingdom. In August I was blessed that my son, Caleb Leonard, through my marriage to Stephen Leonard, accepted the role of Administrator for the PAYH. He is a Godly young man who I believe will continue to guide this ministry to which the Lord called Paul and me over 55 years ago. This Thanksgiving we also welcomed Shane Smith as Director of Advancement and Renia Avera as Director of Donor Management.
Bolstered by these changes, we pressed on, engaging in new outreach efforts and setting high, difficult goals. In March, we added a new event, the Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race, which drew over 250 runners to compete for the benefit of the PAYH and Winshape Camps. We expanded our counseling services and reached out to the local community with our newly established Family Strong Center. Boldly, we set our highest ever goal for our annual bike ride ($200,000) and met it! These things occurred not because of our faithfulness, talents, or resolve, but because God, who is rich in mercy, has chosen to bless our ministry.
In order to offer our young men greater opportunities for change, this fall we created a new substance abuse program which will provide more focused drug and alcohol addiction treatment to pair with our established individual and group therapy program.
Our prayer is that we will soon have the capability to address all the addictions with which our young men are struggling. This is an additional expense, but if we do not address these needs, then we are ignoring the greater issues these young men face today. Many of them had their first drug experience as early as 7 years old, while others have developed troubling online addictions, which have robbed them of their childhood. Our needs this year are greater than ever before as we seek the Lord in finding the right licensed counselors, and in establishing a program based on Christian principals of guidance.
As we close out the year, there is still a degree of uncertainty, but this much we know – through all the surprises, changes, and challenges that 2016 has brought, God is always in control and His plans are sure to come to fruition. He remains faithful and steadfast, and has, through supporters like you, continued to provide us with the means necessary to continue the work with our young men and their families to which the Lord has called all of us.
Now, as we close out the year, we ask that you help us FINISH STRONG. Let’s push forward TOGETHER!
Yours in Christ,