Youngstown, Ohio, is among our nation’s 100 largest cities. Last year, its public school students could not take Released Time Bible classes. Now they can.
Why? Because God wanted it so. And He led Youngstown area resident and ministry leader Gary Frost to School Ministries’ website, the week before the Because WeCARE 2015 conference for Ohio and Indiana. Gary called School Ministries – Ohio’s director Jenni Miller, who encouraged him to come to the bi-annual gathering of RTBE teachers and administrators being held at the end of that week.
He did, with his wife, son, and son-in-law. By meeting’s end, they set a date – two weeks out – for Jenni to come to Youngstown and speak. She did – to a group of friends and ministry leaders gathered in the Frosts’ living room. Many of these Christians had worked together over the years on various initiatives to serve the children of Youngstown. They set a date to meet again. But even before that second meeting in October, the leaders from Youngstown learned something amazing: Youngstown City School District already had adopted a Released Time policy – based upon the new (2014) Released Time law WeCARE had helped educate Ohio’s lawmakers about. It now no longer was a question of IF Youngstown’s schools would approve Released Time, but WHEN and HOW Bible classes would start. WHEN was less than 2 months away, and HOW was with the help of Heart Reach Ministries – a well-established church outreach run by Paris Yanno, with a respected record of working with the public schools.
As of Spring 2016, Youngstown schools currently serve 53 students in grades 4, 5 & 6, in two schools. Three more schools have shown interest in accommodating community requests for classes in three schools starting next fall.
Youngstown holds the new record of being the fastest start-up of any Released Time Bible program in Ohio. By God’s grace, it may yet serve as a model of how to bring RTBE to other major metropolitan areas of the state.
We’re blessed that Gary Frost now serves on the Board of Directors for School Ministries Ohio. We’re blessed to be led by such a faithful servant of Christ who’s committed to students hearing of God’s love and God’s Word.