Authentic Masculinity & Discipleship

Working with young men who have aged out of the foster care system does not bring the instant gratification we secretly desire when we look to help others. Feeding a homeless man or buying a backpack for a child living in poverty produces immediate, tangible results that provide the giver with immediate hits of dopamine. These aren’t intrinsically bad (and food scarcity is an important topic to address), but if the only reason we serve is because we want the personal benefits of serving, then we have missed the mark Jesus has for us.

Discipleship isn’t about immediacy or necessarily even how it makes us feel. It’s actually about doing what Jesus told us to do – “Go and make disciples…” – something that we oftentimes overcomplicate or overthink because making disciples is messy. Entering into the life of another is time consuming, emotionally draining, and can be financially burdensome. Tack on the fact that we don’t even know if we’re a very good disciple ourselves, and it’s a lot easier to take a pass on the whole discipleship thing.

Thankfully there is a really easy way to share the good news about Jesus with others – go have a meal together.

That’s what we did last month with some of the young men in our Authentic Masculinity Program. We went to a restaurant, ate some food, and talked about life. Dating, marriage, fatherhood, meal etiquette, were all conversations we had that evening. The food was great, the atmosphere was a little fancier than (all of us!) we’re used to, but the questions, the answers, the listening, the affirming, the nodding, the caring, the sharing – that’s what the evening was all about. There wasn’t a program or curriculum (not that there’s anything wrong with those) – it was just being human together.

The long term effects of our interactions with these young men are unknown. But make no mistake – the discipleship process is happening. For those who are taking seriously Jesus’ words, the immediate benefit comes in the increased intimacy we have with the Savior. As for the long term results? They’re in the hands of Jesus.

If you are interested in being a part of this incredible program please click here to apply.

Installation Celebration!

A roof is one of the most important parts of the home. “I put a roof over your head” is a common phrase for almost any parent that ever existed. Why is that? Well, we aren’t architects but we do know that protection from storms, weather damage, and more are basic needs for any family. Yet, when your roof starts having issues, that basic need becomes a costly one.

Arry’s Roofing has a kindred spirit to that of Man Up and Go, so it was a no-brainer for us to partner together and meet the need of one of the families enrolled in our Adopt A Family program. 

Our foster families sacrifice so much to care and love on the children in their homes. As they invest countless hours into their children they also have doctors appointments, case managers coming in, therapy appointments, and the list goes on. The least we can do is take care of the mountainous task or repairing or replacing a roof. 

​That is where Arry’s Roofing comes in! They generously gifted an entire roof to the family and through an installation celebration. Click below to watch our Celebration Installation video.

New Man Up and Go Team Members!

As Man Up Tampa Bay grows, so does our need for more hands on deck. Our Adopt A Family program and our Man Up 100 program would not run without our MUTB Coordinator. This is why Gabby Shatto’s arrival was key! She has a history in event planning, a love for Jesus, and has been utilizing that gift since she walked through our doors. We are so thankful for how ready she is to serve and help in anyway possible. Gabby is truly a servant leader and has remained positive even in the midst of joining our organization while we were planning events, transitioning staff, and managing events/trips. We are excited for how Gabby will coordinate our families and members, and for her expertise as we throw events for the organization and our families.

For the past 3 years, Man Up and Go has been growing one team member at a time. We have added on an Executive Assistant, Digital Storyteller, and Programs Director. In 2021, we set out to make sure our organization is running as efficiently as possible to glorify the Lord with how we steward His organization. In 2022, we began the search for a Chief of Operations. This person had to have not only the skills of a COO but a heart for the fatherless and the Lord! As time passed it became clear who that person was. She was in our midst the whole time! One of our prized board members, Stephanie Shermeta. Stephanie has spent over a decade in ministry, she has lived overseas, she has been a pivotal board member for Man Up and Go, and she has been a faithful sister in Christ. We hope you will give Stephanie a huge congratulations when you see her at any of our Man Up and Go gatherings or events. We are so thankful for God’s work in her life and we are excited for what God is has in store for us at Man Up and Go.

Adoption Shoutout! (MUTB)

One of the incredible families in our AAF program just adopted their son! We are so honored to be a part of this family’s journey as they foster a loving and healthy home for their children. God is the author of adoption. This is a true reflection of what it looks like to not only treat someone with love and care but to actually bring them into your home and make them family! We praise the Lord for what He is doing through the Slavik family.

LIFE SKILLS AMP’d (May 2022)

For the last 8 months Man Up Tampa Bay has engaged in a pilot program aimed at breaking the chains of generational fatherlessness among those who have aged-out of foster care.

Who are these men? They are young men ages 18-24 who have spent at least some time in foster care and are growing into adulthood. Statistics tell us that these young men (and women!) are at far greater risk for negative societal outcomes than their peers who did not encounter foster care. For instance, 

  • 1 in 2 are homeless1
  • 90% with 5 or more placements have encountered the justice system2
  • 1 in 2 are unemployed3

These realities stack the deck against these fatherless young men in ways that most of us cannot understand. To really understand their reality we must enter into it.

This is what Man Up is doing with our Authentic Masculinity Program – domestic. One of the biggest ways we can help these young men is to provide them with an opportunity to work. Not only does this help them financially, but they are living out a God-ordained calling to provide for themselves.

This past weekend we invited some of the young men up to the Ranch to hear how a former aged-out foster kid used his circumstances as motivation to propel him forwards. That “kid” is now a grown man who sold a business up north with over 100 employees cutting 4000 lawns each week. Man Up is partnering with him to offer lawn care training to our young men at the Ranch.

We also spent time just hanging out and furthering the relationship by doing what every red-blooded American male wants to do – RACE! We had a fantastic time go-karting, talking trash to one another, and asking the young men about their summer plans, what goals they have, and how we can pray for and encourage them. 

This program is designed to break the chains of generational fatherlessness, so we’re just getting started. The relationship—earning and keeping trust— is the most important thing.

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The 100 Shares Tampa Bay Grant!

For the last two years, Man Up Tampa Bay has applied for the 100 Shares Tampa Bay grant. Our first year, we made it to the finalist stage and did not receive the grant. The Lord still provided the amount that we had requested for! This year, we applied for $100,000. This $100,000 will help us create resources for churches to mobilize men to fight for the fatherless in their communities. We will be creating content, trainings, and more to make this process as replicable of an experience as possible.

As of April 22nd, 2022, Man Up Tampa Bay won the $100,000 grant to mobilize men for generations in the fight for the fatherless. Thank you to 100 Shares for your faith in what God is going to do through our ministry. Thank you Jesus for how you provide and guide us as we seek to obey your calling.

AMP’d Life Skills Weekend

This weekend we had a Life Skills weekend with the young men in AMP’d. Life Skills weekends are where we bring the young men out to spend the weekend having meaningful conversations, learning real life skills, and engaging with our experienced men.

These weekends are important for our young men to gain perspective, be heard, and build their future goals. We want to help guide them as they navigate this next chapter of their lives.

Man Up 100 Q2 Gatherings

Our gatherings across the U.S. were a huge success. We are so happy to see men engaging in the fight for their local fatherless children. These men have not only acknowledged the call of James 1:27 but they are now acting on it! Here are some photos of the gatherings below: