In his day, Bill Glass was one of the most outstanding football players in the National Football League, playing on the 1964 champion Cleveland Browns and making the NFL Pro Bowl four times. In 1969, long before prison ministry became popular among evangelicals, Glass founded what is now called Champions for Life. The ministry invites professional athletes to speak to prisoners, following up with trained volunteers who commit themselves to building lasting relationships with juvenile inmates. After three-and-a-half decades of ministry, Glass, with Terry Pluto, has written Champions for Life: The Healing Power of a Father's Blessing (Faith Communications, 2005) to address an issue that is sorely affecting the fabric of the nation.

What is our country's biggest problem?

A lack of the father's blessing. The FBI studied the 17 kids that have shot their classmates in little towns like Paducah, Kentucky; Pearl, Mississippi; and Littleton, Colorado. All 17 shooters had only one thing in common. They had a father problem. I see it so much; it's just unbelievable. There's something about it when a man doesn't get along with his father. It makes him mean; it makes him dangerous; it makes him angry.

On the day before Father's Day, I was in North Carolina in a juvenile prison. I ate lunch with three boys. I asked the first boy, "Is your dad coming to see you tomorrow on Father's Day?"

He said, "No, he's not coming."

"Why not?"

"He's in prison."

I asked the second boy the same question and got the same answer.

I asked the third one why his dad wasn't coming, and he said, "He got out of prison about nine months ago, and he's doing good, and I'm proud of my father. He's really going to be a good dad to me, and he's going to go straight."

I could ...

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January 2006

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