Call to Action: J-STAR Ministries Needs Us
Dec. 4, 2015 at 2:18 p.m.
I’d like to do something different. Although I’m sure I could have offered up another opinion piece on social or political issues, I want to beseech you to take action. I’d like to tell you about an organization and mission that needs our help. We need to step up, Longview. This year it has seemed that another week brings another shooting, another homicide, more gang violence. Where do we start? I’m glad you asked.
We need a concerted effort among churches, citizens, businesses and the government of Longview; collectively, we need to step up and make a difference. We need people to take onus and responsibility. We need to understand that if we do nothing more than lament and talk, we are, in fact, doing nothing at all.
There are organizations that already exist to make a difference in the lives of our youth. Organizations with a missional focus to reach and teach our young men and women to become productive citizens by overcoming adversity rather than succumbing to its pressures. Today I’d like to implore you to open your hearts, your minds and even your wallets to such an organization.
J-STAR Ministries (Johnson’s Success Through Attitude & Respect) was established in 2004 as a 501(c)3 non-profit youth organization. J-STAR prides itself in its missional focus to help today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders. J-STAR works with students ranging in ages 6 to 18 years old, specifically with behavior issues. Students are accepted into the program through both parent and school referral, as well as court order. J-STAR also speaks at various area schools on the ABC’s of Life: Attitude, Behavior and Choices.
Once part of the program students are taught abstinence, anger management, citizenship, discipline, life skills, respect for authority and physical fitness. Students receive weekly visits to their respective schools to determine how they’re performing in terms of grades, attitude and respect for teachers and administration. On Saturdays, students meet at the J-STAR offices in the Pine Tree area of Longview in the Community Connections building to take part in various work from community action, physical fitness and even some leisure activities.
J-STAR can be found participating at local events and outreaches such as the Walk to End Alzheimers, The Alley Fest, Christmas parades, Western Days in Hallsville, Gusher Days in Gladewater, the Juneteenth Parade in Kilgore, volunteering at Truman W. Smith in Gladewater, Longview Dream Center, New Gate Mission, Highway 80 Rescue Mission, Coats for Kids Giveaways, J-STAR Ministries Youth Explosion and many others. Through these efforts, participants in the program learn to be thankful for the things in their life and to have compassion for those who struggle, while also accepting they are responsible for their own decisions.
I don’t need to rehash the statistics in order for us to all agree that Longview has a problem. Organizations like J-STAR embody how we make a difference: that is to reach one and teach one. We must step up in support of those who are gifted in this area. Patrick Johnson, founder of J-STAR, is one of those people.
Mr. Johnson has been married to his wife Shana for 15 years and they have six children. He spent nearly 10 years in the United States Air Force and is a disabled veteran. Mr. Johnson is also certified in anger management and is a behavior management specialist. He previously worked at the Kilgore crisis center as a volunteer coordinator and is a certified basic life coach working to rehabilitate abusive men. He has counseled married couples in anger management and domestic violence situations. Mrs. Johnson is the head basketball coach at Harleton High School and also volunteers in J-STAR Ministries, focusing on working with young women in the program.
J-STAR administration and volunteers also include past participants in the program who have gone on to be accepted and attend LeTourneau University, UT Tyler and other post-secondary centers of education as well as being successfully and gainfully employed in various sectors. These former students are a testament to J-STAR and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their heart and gifting in working with troubled youth.
J-STAR needs your help, Longview. Funding has seen a steady decrease over this year and the program is in jeopardy. There are approximately 130 churches in the Longview area and businesses too numerous to number. Yes, many oil and gas related businesses are suffering, but any help gets J-STAR closer to the goal. Christians, I implore you to step up and fill the gap for a ministry that is heeding its call and accepting its responsibility to our community. People of Longview, I encourage you to reach out to discover how you can lend your time and/or talent to J-STAR. The harvest is plentiful but the workers truly are few. Let’s not allow yet another organization, beneficial to Longview and its youth, die on the vine.
J-STAR ministries can be found online at www.jstarministries.com or reached by phone at (903) 424-1757. Let’s all step up and do our part to insure that J-STAR continues to reach our youth and expand its mission for the betterment of our future. You never know, the next child reached because of your contribution may just be a life saved from the violence and gang culture so prevalent in the Longview area.