By Hamil R. Harris, Special to the AFRO
On April 13 and 14, First Baptist Church of Glenarden was filled with more than two-thousand men for the 18th annual “Mighty Men of Valor,” a conference tailored for men to have a weekend of, “fellowship, training and celebration,” said its founder, the Rev Dr. Clifford Ashe.
Ashe said the men chosen to speak at the conference were selected because of their ability and willingness “to be transparent” in their lives, including headliner NFL legend Michael Vick.
The theme of the conference was “Guardians for the Next Generation” as its purpose was to encourage men to be better examples for the next generation.
According Ashe, the Bible verse Psalm 102:18 (NIV) inspired the theme of preparing the next generation: “Let this be written for future generations, that a people not yet created may Praise the Lord.”
For this reason the conference focused on sharing ideas across men young and old.
“Unless a man can find another man who has defeated the giant that he ultimately will face, he is destined to fail,” Ashe told the AFRO. “If you have a giant killer in your life he can show you how you can defeat your giant. We want teach a new generation how to be giant killers.”
John Parker, director of the Men’s Ministry at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, also weighed in on the importance of the conference. “In order for a man to be what God has called him to be, he must be with other men. A man can’t know himself and grow himself by himself,” Parker said.
There were two dozen workshops for the men to take part in that covered a variety of issues. Joshua Jenkins, son of First Baptist Church of Glenarden’s Pastor John K. Jenkins, taught a class entitled “Let Me Holla At You The Right Way,” that focused on Christian relationships. The Rev. Jonathan Queen taught a class entitled “Boys to Men-tors.” Ashe’s class was entitled “Are You Man Enough?”
The theme for young men, ages 13 to 17, was taken from 1 Timothy 4:12, which reads, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
One notable moment of intergenerational fellowship between the men was during the lunch break Saturday when the lawn of the church was lined with men chatting and enjoying their time together.
The generations also came together as they listened to Michael Vick.
Many men came to the event in Philadelphia Eagle attire with the number “7”, yet instead of his famed jersey, Vick sported a white tee shirt that displayed the word “seven”.
The athlete used his trials and tribulations as a testimony and inspiration for all men.
“When you are playing [football] you don’t think about retirement and what life is going to be like when you retire,” said Vick as he talked about going from landing a five-year $10 million contract, to being incarcerated and then turning his life around.
Today Vick is a successful sports analyst for Fox Sports. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and four children.
Vick told the audience, “One of things that I want to do is to help the next generation of NFL players and up and coming athletes to prepare them for life after football.”