Raising Children Up is Key to Tackling Inequality in Flint Community
Overcoming inequality could begin as early as in the womb. That belief has led the Flint Mission Network in Flint, Mich., to launch the Raising Children Up project, which supports programs that provide entry points in the lives of mothers and children.
“From the prenatal to adolescence, we believe the strongest way to make an impact is to begin providing care and fostering relationships as early as possible in a person’s life. The way mothers are treated influences the way children grow up,” said Rev. Christian Jones, executive director of Flint Mission Network.
To help expand the Network’s reach, We Raise Foundation awarded Jones a $15,000 Emerging Leader Grant in June 2022.
“The partnership with We Raise will help to broaden our ability to love and serve the Flint community. The financial support will allow us to address specific needs in a sustainable way,” Jones said. “I’m looking forward to leadership training, which will equip and grow me as a pastor and administrator. I want to learn how to sustain what is already built while seizing future opportunities.”
Flint was once home to automotive manufacturing powerhouses, but has experienced an economic downturn since the 1980s. According to the recent U.S. Census estimates, Flint has one of the nation’s highest poverty rates among U.S. cities, with a third of Flint residents under the age 18 living below the poverty line.
Upon graduating from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., in 2019, Jones moved his family to Flint to answer the call to lead the small staff at the Network. In addition to his role as pastor, he can be found teaching after school catechetical classes, driving the mission van, knocking on doors and meeting parents of children who participate in programs under the Raising Children Up project.
“l could not do this alone. It takes ministry partners and a network of staff, volunteers, and the faith community to make systemic changes. We are stronger and better together,” Jones explained. “In everything we do, our end goal is to empower our neighbors and help build a faith that clings to Christ in the darkest of circumstances.”
That goal is accomplished through several ministries within the Raising Children Up project. The Network partners with medical professionals from the University of Michigan at The Luke Clinic to provide accessible, high quality medical care for expectant mothers and newborns. Mercy House is a long-term transitional housing ministry. A licensed clinical social worker from Wellspring Lutheran Services leads the program and equips single moms with parenting skills, job preparedness, and financial planning to provide for their families in healthy, sustainable ways. Participants are also encouraged to attend free faith building and community-based programming like the Franklin Ave Diner, where they can access free meals, clothing, and personal items.
In addition, neighborhood children are invited to Sunday services and after school programs like the ROCK (Reaching our Community with Kindness), where they can learn in a safe environment.
Thanks, in part, to the generous contributions of We Raise donors, the Flint Mission Network is able to expand its ministry in the upcoming year to include a low-cost laundromat and a daycare to allow parents to successfully go to school or find employment.
Your faithful gifts allow We Raise to support emerging leaders like Pastor Jones in being the hands and feet of Christ as he proclaims the Gospel and helps change the trajectory of children and their families’ lives in Flint through the Raising Children Up project.