• 80% of rapists with displaced anger come from fatherless homes.
• 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
• 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
“The statistics are shocking,” said Edward Yeates, founder of Father’s Child Ministries. “I believe it is my responsibility as a citizen of Columbus and of the world to make a difference in a positive way.
Yeates’ own father left when he was just 5 years old. To this day he describes himself as a bad kid. He said he was troubled, and that not having a strong male role model affected his behavior and how he viewed himself. Fortunately, Yeates had a teacher in the third grade that saw his potential.
“She was a great influence in my life. She steered me in the right direction and spoke positive words to me,” said Yeates. “Ms. Bardwell died before I could tell her what a huge impact she had on me. I’ve decided that the best way to pay that forward is to try and make a difference in the lives of others.”
Yeates started Father’s Child Ministries in 2004 while watching the two children of a friend who really needed help. Yeates and his wife Barbara took those kids under their wings and the ministry spread from there. It quickly grew to 10-15 kids in the front room of their house. “We knew we had to get them out of there,” said Yeates. “We moved to Armstrong Middle School, and now we work out of Brickerton Shops on Military.”
Father’s Child Ministries now envelopes three programs. The Youth Program supports about 50 kids that come from a single-parent home. They meet on weekends to hear about the word of God, receive tutoring for school, have fellowship time and go on recreational outings to places like the YMCA of Columbus. Yeates and his team also visit their kids in the schools on weekdays and provide whatever support may be needed at the time.
The Mother’s Support Group is made up of about 40 mothers of the children in the program. They meet every third Saturday and periodically to support their children and each other.
Finally, Operation Manhood is a fathers program with an initiative to help teach fathers to be more responsible and more active parents to their children.
“I think that all children should have the opportunity to have a good education and a good home,” said Yeates. “I also want to help make this community and this world a better place for my children. I’m willing to do whatever that takes.”
Yeates had no idea in college that he would be called to start a children’s ministry. He had a football scholarship to Mississippi State University where he was a starting linebacker. But freshman year, he had the terrible luck to receive a career-ending ACL/PCL tear.
“I became a linebacker for the kingdom of god in my freshman year,” he said. “I traded my position on the football team for his team and began to chase souls instead of the ball. It was the greatest trade I ever made.”
Looking back, Yeates says that this is what he has been called to do. “I have the greatest passion for it,” he said. “I love spending time with the kids in my program. I love to teach them and watch them learn and watch them get to use that information. It’s a great feeling to see these kids reach their potential.”
Some of his graduates are going on to do amazing things as well. Ashley Hill, a student at Alcorn University is about to graduate as a registered nurse. A ministry student named Rondrell is at EMCC and is soon transferring to Mississippi State to study Business. And LaShonte, a Father’s Child alumna is a junior at Ole Miss and plans to become a doctor.
“We’ve had kids go from their behavior being horrendous to being one of the better behaved kids. It’s a miraculous thing transition once you receive the Lord into your life,” he said. “We see grades improve, social circles change, and over a third of our kids are on the honor roll at school. Having God as a part of your life reflects out into every part of your life. It’s a byproduct of being changed from the inside.”
Father’s Child Ministries is currently accepting children into their program. To apply or for more information, visit www.fatherschild.org and click on “forms.” Their offices are located at 104 Brickerton Suites off of Military Road.
To help support Father’s Child Ministries, local community leaders and businesses are asked to consider participating in the Father’s 500, which is a program where individuals or groups commit to donating a sum of $500 to the ministry to offset the cost of food, transportation, books and more for the families involved.
Yeates has three of his own children, two girls and a young son. Charity and Faith are seven years old and four years old respectively and Christian is just two.
“Every child has greatness in them,” said Yeates. “Every child has the ability to affect the whole world.”