How do you respond to the claim that the real problem in our schools is that God is no longer welcome there?
I don't think any question or issue has frustrated me more than this one. He has not left. We have. I honestly believe that God roams the hallways of America's public schools looking for us. He longs for us to be Jesus-with-skin-on for these children. If God is in fact not welcome in these schools, why is it that 60 percent of requests for Kids Hope programs nationwide now come not from churches but from public school personnel? They look for that organization in their community that has the word love in its mission statement, and they find it in the local church.
How do you explain why at-risk kids improve their learning skills so quickly after they receive a mentor?
We have discovered that in order to meet the academic needs of these children, we must first meet their emotional and social needs. As we give them increased self-confidence and self-esteem, they are almost automatically empowered to learn.
As you introduce love and nurture into the lives of at-risk children, they begin to learn almost instantaneously. Our record is twelve minutes for Nathan, a child who had not participated in any classroom activity for two and a half years. Suddenly, after just meeting his mentor, the boy would not put his hand down. When asked what he had done to accomplish this extraordinary change, the mentor reported that he had said only two things: "Nathan, I'm happy to be with you today" and "Nathan, I think we're going to be really good friends." By touching the heart of this child, in a matter of minutes he was able to accomplish significant change in the mind of the child.1