By Katie Sobiech
Jonathan Greer is a man on a mission.
A father of two sons, Jonathan has a passion for encouraging men to be present and active in the lives of their children. Rarely will you see him without his 3 year old son, Jonathan Jr., by his side. Whether at an event, meeting, prayer time or work…his son spends most of his time with him – watching what his dad does and how he lives his life.
“My oldest is with me all the time, he helps me set up (for events) and hangs with me,” Jonathan said.
It was having a consistent father figure in his life that molded Jonathan into the man that he is today.
“I always had a father growing up – a biological father always involved in my life. I am who I am today because I had him in my life. Many of these kids don’t have that- so we have to represent that,” Jonathan said.
The Man-Up Movement is a challenge to men, to rise up higher and be the men that God has called them to be, which will in turn have a ripple effect on generations to come.
“It’s a ministry of the family. Our design is to help build men up to “man-up” to what they were designed to be and what they were destined to do,” Jonathan said.
Friday Freeze Neighborhood Outreach
This is the ministry’s 2nd year of putting on the Friday Freeze, a neighborhood outreach, ever Friday during the summer. Each week a different church sponsors “the freeze”.
“They bring the fun, we provide the popsicles, people, space, and just have fun with them,” Jonathan said, comparing it to a “local missions trip”.
Neighborhood kids are drawn in by the music, crowd, games and popsicles.
“Jon told us about this idea and we thought it would be awesome to come reach out to the kids in the community. It’s awesome. I watch it grow every week. It’s twice the size it was last week. It’s fun to interact,” Colin Lee, 23, and a member of New Perspectives at Grace Church, said.
“We have games, read stories, scripture and introduce them to the concept of Jesus and how He’s the Savior. We interact through activities and a lesson,” Lee continued.
Family is very important to Jonathan and his wife Jessica, who started the Man-Up Movement, and view it as a crucial foundation in the healthy development in children.
“We think about today, most of our society … 22 million kids today go home to a single parent home. 83% of those are just to mom. So if we start working with kids at a young age and men that have and don’t have children, then we can help them to be the better man which makes the better father. That’s the whole picture of what we want – to build good fathers to help with good children, raising good families,” Jonathan said.
What better place to go than the center of a neighborhood filled with children, many who do not have fathers in their lives.
“We decided to come in the area and just be like missionaries to the families. Warriors to their loved ones, citizens of the community and show love to the world. That’s what it’s all about – build men up,” Jonathan said.
Bringing smiles to children’s faces, and having a good time while building relationships, doesn’t hurt either.
“We have great fun and engage in activities and just do some great things for the kids in the community. We invite everyone, whether they are children, fathers, mothers or grandparents, to hang out and have fun and show them some love, give them a message about Jesus, some popsicles and send them home,” Jonathan said.
“We just want people to have fun. God is fun. I mean sometimes we just put God in such a box. Many people in this area don’t go to church. Most of them haven’t been to a church. So you have a concept of who God is and He’s so foreign – God is foreign to a lot of people because most of these kids, their dad is foreign. So what we try to do is come here and be that man that’s standing in the gap for them, show love to them and just have fun with them,” Jonathan said.
A Safe Place to Go
The kids have even started coming to Jonathan and his wife Jessica’s home throughout the week.
“If they ever need something they know the Man-Up Movement is there for them,” Jonathan said.
And the events have attracted more than just children.
Chris Cone says “I stay on Whittier and have been in this community for 40 years. Anything that’s positive, I love. It’s enjoyable – something for the kids to do cause kids ain’t got nothing to do in our neighborhood,” he said while laughing and having a good time throwing around the football.
A Fatherless Generation
The beauty of this movement is that they stand in the gap for fatherless children. They provide role models where there aren’t any.
“I think the Man-Up Movement is really important because it helps bring the father and a man where they’re supposed to be and where God has placed them,” Jessica said.
“A lot of the kids around here don’t have their father. And if they do (it’s not) a godly man speaking into their lives to give them purpose and tell them who they are in God. I think it’s really important for someone to stand before a child so a child can see that example. See ‘Why am I here?’ ‘What is my purpose’,” she continued, while rocking her little baby in her arms.
“And when you know your purpose I believe it will bring down suicide and a whole lot of stuff that it just seems is out of control. But really, it’s out of control because the father is not in his place,” she said.
Keep the Movement Going
“We’re not going to stop. We really see this as a movement. We’re on a mission. We feel like we’re missionaries – just local missionaries- and our mission is men. We know that when we touch men’s lives then we change everything,” Jonathan said.
Greer has found many inspiring, supportive statistics to keep their momentum going.
“When a man gives his life to Christ, 93% of that family is going to follow suit. So that lets us know that we have to touch the heart of men and we have to get them to understand and acknowledge who God is and who He’s made them to be and what their destiny is. When they do that they can be the man that God called them to be,” Jonathan said.
Aside from the Friday Freeze, the Man-Up Movement meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesday for prayer at 7 a.m. and every Friday for “Man Study”. Men of all ages are invited to join.
“We talk about key issues when it comes to dealing with manhood – Biblical manhood – and using the Bible as our reference,” Jonathan said.
And events are always around the corner. August 31st marked their “Back to School Bash” where they gave away back-packs, school supplies and hot dogs, chips and drinks for all of the kids. This was done thanks to donations from many – including Owens Corning and Ward Jet in Tallmadge.
“We’re always busy doing something!” Jonathan said.
For more info visit http://www.manupmen.org/ You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook. Opportunities to get involved in the Friday Freeze or other ministry activities around the city are listed there!