Jeff Master knew he had a problem building strong relationships, and he wondered why.
Master never had a dad. His father died in the Vietnam War months before he was born.
“Different men came in and out of my life,” he says. “Mostly to date my mom. When the relationship dissolved, I was crushed. A part of me always left with them.”
After attending the Top Gun discipleship program for men at Christ Fellowship in Palm Beach Gardens, Master grew in his faith and was able to pinpoint four areas of his life he wanted to work on – each resulting from life without a dad.
“I knew I had issues with trust and lacked the ability to build healthy relationships. I had a strong sense of independence and a lack of positive affirmation in my life – all I believe was a result of being a fatherless child,” he reflects. “The Top Gun men’s group opened my eyes to unconditional love and brought light to those four areas. I learned I needed to put God in the center of my life, and when I did, I was able to work on those things.”
Soon after, 43-year-old Master attended a weekend retreat and woke up one morning with a vision to start a mentoring program for fatherless boys.
“After all the problems I’ve suffered from not having a father, I made a vow. For any fatherless boy I meet, I’m going to put a fleet of men behind him to support him,” he says.
His vision became Flight 36, a flight school-themed mentorship program that teaches boys that “God loves them, has a plan for them and built them for a purpose.”
Flight 36 encourages boys to “fly higher on their spiritual journey with God,” according to Flight36.org.
“We want to educate people about the dangers of a fatherless home. When a man leaves his wife, he also walks away from his children, his vows, his principles and God’s design for marriage,” Master says with emotion.
Boys ages 9–13 are invited to participate in Flight 36. Once they are enrolled, the boys get involved in camps, Bible study, athletics, and they complete two service projects to raise funds for outside organizations like cancer or multiple sclerosis advocates.
“These boys are going to get a lot of affirmation and confidence as well as a strong resume by the time they graduate from our program,” says Master, who was formerly an architect.
Boys attending Flight 36 graduate from the program at age 13 and are then offered the opportunity to enter a leadership program to mentor their younger counterparts. Master hopes to have the resources one day to offer college scholarships.
Other churches have started Flight 36 chapters, including a church in Greenville, S.C. Computer savvy Masters, along with a Carolina friend created a training manual, website and blog for other churches hoping to start a turn-key mentoring program.
“We don’t need a church’s staff, time, money or office space,” says Master. “All we need is one man at each church with a heart for boys.”
For more information on sending your son to Flight 36 or to mentor or sponsor a fatherless boy, visit www.Flight36.org.