Real Religion

Published on Monday, February 12, 2018

The following blog post was written by Man Up and Go CEO Jeff Ford. 

Yesterday our pastor preached a sermon about the snare of false religion. That is to say, it is so easy for humans to go through the motions when it comes to God – “A faith that hasn’t changed you, hasn’t saved you.” No truer words have been spoken. If we have sincerely felt the weight of our sin, fallen on our faces before a holy God while crying out for mercy, and by faith, trusted that the offer of forgiveness found in God’s own Son, Jesus, is sufficient to wipe out the sin debt we owe – if all of this is true about us – then it ought to radically alter the way we live.

Our pastor’s message really centered around Isaiah 1:17, a verse I have stamped at the end of every email I send, and a verse that has, in many ways, become my life verse:

Learn to do good,
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor,
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

The timing of his sermon, in God’s perfection, couldn’t be more appropriate.

Recently there was a report that aired on Tampa Bay TV affiliate WFLA about foster kids enduring hours on end in cars and vans in a Wawa parking lot because there is no place for these kids. Why are they in a gas station parking lot? Because it has wifi and access to a bathroom. Granted, these kids are unruly and have been kicked out of group homes for their behavior, but it certainly begs the question – what on earth are Christians doing in the Tampa Bay area that we are sitting idly by while children, made in God’s image, are not in school, not in a home with loving caregivers, and are forced to live out their existence streaming movies and music while they poach wifi from a gas station parking lot? All of this under “adult” supervision?


There are over 6000 children in the “system” in the Bay area. The last data I could find shows there are over 300,000 “Christians” in Pinellas County alone. If God tells us to “defend the fatherless” in the Old Testament and that “pure religion…is taking care of orphans” in the New Testament, then may I submit that most Pinellas County Christians appear to have a “faith that…hasn’t saved us.”

This is not meant to be a guilt trip – those who are “in Christ” no longer feel the weight of sin and guilt. But it should serve as an alarm, maybe a wake-up call, an irritant of sorts, straight from God’s Word to us. We have the responsibility to act. Go read Matthew 25 – if we don’t act, can it truly be said that we will “enter the joy of our Lord”?

Christians often think that fighting for the fatherless means one must immediately become a foster parent or sign up to adopt. And yes, we need those people. But there are other ways to help.

One of Man Up’s initiatives in 2018 is spread the word about the problem and the solution. If you’d like to hear more or would at least consider doing something to act on this crisis, will you contact us and let us know? We’re not looking to lock you into anything, but it lets us know you’re not okay with the status quo.

Lastly, below was a verse in my Scripture reading today:

Defend the poor and fatherless,
Do justice to the afflicted and needy. – Psalm 82:3

God’s timing is perfect. There are no coincidences in God’s economy. We at Man Up believe He’s calling us to act not only in Africa and Latin America, but here in our own backyard. His Word declares it. We’re exhorting you to get involved.

Won’t you join us?

Latest from the Dominican Republic

Published on Monday, February 5, 2018

The following blog post was written by Man Up and Go Director of Operations, Luke Sawyer. 

I recently traveled to the Dominican Republic for the first time as the Director of Operations with Man Up and Go. Specifically, this trip was focused on connecting with current as well as potential ministry partners as MUG determines future direction for partnerships in the Dominican Republic.

Upon touching down I spent the first afternoon with some of the members of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, with whom MUG has partnered the past two years on Men’s Leadership Development Conferences. These conferences aim to equip coaches being impacted by the ministry of FCA.

After my time with FCA, I went into Santo Domingo (the capitol, 3 million people) to sit in on a conference with Set Free Ministries, in addition to spending time with Kendar and Hozanna Robles in an area called Los Tres Brazos. We see Kendar and Hozanna and their ministry under Iglesia Bautista Getsemani and Centro Cristiano de Capacitación y Ayuda Infantil as an amazing partner moving forward.

Kendar and Hozanna are originally from San Pedro de Macoris (where we formerly lived) and have been ministering in Los Tres Brazos for 20 years. They are working in an incredibly tough context as the community is built into a trash dump (basurero in Spanish) and is steeped in every sort of misery one could imagine.

In my time walking the community with Kendar, we walked through ankle deep mud and sewage, talked with individuals picking through garbage with open sores, encountered children walking through the dump naked, came up on drug deals, and visited with widows living in extremely substandard situations; all in a four hour walk through the community. This is the context in which Kendar and Hozanna are working day-in-day-out with very little outside help and a lot of prayer.

Their ministry outside of the church offers youth programming attempting to pull kids out of their situation and offer hope for a better future, a school for preschool and kindergarten where the children receive an education as well as meals Monday-Friday (50 kids), and a separate feeding program (30 people) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Man Up is looking at the possibilities now of opening up child sponsorship with the children in the program as well as some creative ways for Kendar and Hozanna to generate income into the program and build towards a more sustainable funding model. Please pray for Kendar and Hozanna, their team of six volunteers, the hearts of those they are impacting, and the partnership we are entering into with them.

See below for my interview on the dump with Pastor Kendar.