Even after his Blue Like Jazz memoir became a best-seller, Donald Miller realized his day-to-day life just wasn't exciting enough for a screen play. That's when Miller decided to apply storytelling principles to his own life. Part of the result was The Mentoring Project, a church-based program to provide role models to boys. Christianity Today's Mark Galli interviewed Miller about the project and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which is set to release in September.
Where is the Mentoring Project headed?
We're mentoring 80 kids, hoping to mentor 500 by the end of the year and 5,000 by the end of next year. That's our goal, at least.
If we can build these programs in churches in local neighborhoods, there could be a mentoring influence within blocks of the majority of the population in the United States. That's an idealistic vision. But let's say we get a quarter of the way there. If we can mentor between 5 and 10 million young men growing up without fathers, we would shut down prisons in this country, because 85 percent of prisons are populated by men who grew up in completely fatherless homes. We could see crime decrease and a lot of improvement with the social issues we care about.
How is it different from like the Big Brother program?
It's not terribly different, except that we need a thousand more national mentoring programs. So we're not trying to reinvent the wheel. We are actually equipping churches to start mentoring programs either out of their college programs or their men's groups.
Does the mentoring program come from your own history?
Yeah, my dad split when I was about two. I stopped seeing him when I was about seven. Then I saw him again last year for the first time I'd seen him in 30 years. He's been married ...1
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