Brotherhood through basketball

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) Connecting with Community is about reaching out to those who need it most. Lifequest Ministries embodies this message by showing an incredible commitment to some of the hardest-to-reach members of Grand Rapids.

African-American males from age 16 to 25 are one of the most underserved, at-risk populations in the Grand Rapids community, as well as the entire United States.

“This is an audience that quite often get left out” said Joe Jones, president of the Grand Rapids Urban League, a partner with Lifequest. “These are individuals that can be dropouts from school. Who are unemployed. Who are underemployed. Who are underachievers, who lack hope.”

Lifequest CWC Awards

Reverend Jerry Bishop, the founder of Lifequest, wondered why this demographic so often showed up at church once or twice, but never came back. “I thought, ‘how can something so great repel, instead of compel, young men?’” said Bishop.

Bishop began devising a solution that would work to improve these lives through compassion, collaboration, and community.

His program started with basketball, which he knew was a simple, effective way to fill gyms and create a starting point of community.

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For some, that’s all Lifequest ever becomes. But for many, Lifequest becomes much more, transitioning into worship, fellowship and service all while fostering mentoring relationships.

Along the way, they have partnered with organizations such as Amway, Calvary Church, and the DeVos Foundation. But their system primarily depends on the commitment of the individual.

Because of this, their mission and core values remain relatively simple. “We don’t do a lot of new things”, says Bishop.  “We don’t do the program of the day. We stay consistent. Nurture. Nurture and meet the needs.” Bishop and the rest of the Lifequest team are convinced this kind of consistency is the best, and only, way to get results in this community.

Lifequest CWC Awards

Willie Duke is one of those young men that easily could have been somewhere very different if not for Lifequest.. He came to the program at a hard time in his life, and credits it for helping transform his life. He’s now studying criminal justice at Grand Rapids Community College and looking to become a probation officer.

“I’m just thankful that something like this exists,” Duke said about the his time in the program. “I wish I had met (Jerry) Bishop earlier, when I was in high school.”

“Lifequest is Connecting with Community through compassion and consistency” says Bishop. “We’re consistently compassionate no matter what”.

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For more on Lifequest, volunteering and donation opportunities, visit their website or Facebook.

For more on WOOD TV8’s 2015 Connecting with Community Awards, visit the community page.

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