Bishop James Dixon is not only the well-respected pastor of Community of Faith, but a human rights activist, empowerment leader, inspiring communicator, and an advocate for our children. In today’s society, advocating for the betterment of our children is a top priority. When it comes to protecting, valuing, and investing in our children, Bishop Dixon walks the walk, practicing what he preaches and leading by example. Loving Kids, a partnership with the renowned Dr. Ed Young, his mentor, proves once again why Bishop Dixon is one of the most talked about and inspiring when it comes to our children and the next generation.
Bishop Dixon says, “Being an advocate for our children is my calling! The only chance we have to change the future is through what we invest in children. That is why we started Good Gang USA in 1994, and it’s still going strong today.” Bishop Dixon recalls bringing his children to church, mentoring and motivating them. “When you analyze it, our world is not very kind to children. They are the most vulnerable among us. They can’t speak for themselves. They can’t defend themselves from the cruelties that afflict them. They are victims of evil people and adverse policies, and they inherit all the bad decisions of adults who come before them,” Bishop Dixon expresses. Bishop Dixon believes in our children, as they are the future, seeing the enormous potential in them.
Loving Kids is a great initiative that will foster growth and expose our kids to their God-given potential, targeting schools in key areas. Bishop Dixon spoke with d-mars.com about his work with Dr. Ed Young and Loving Kids will not only shape our children’s lives, but help better our community.
Talk about the Loving Kids initiative. Most great visions are birthed due to crisis. Loving Kids is the result of the pervasive education gap that exists among children in inner city urban America and their peers who are raised in middle and upper class suburbia. Over a year ago, Dr. Young visited me to see what we were doing and to see what he could do to help. I was privileged to give him a tour through Acres Homes, and he saw where our members live. He also saw where we spend time seeking to minister to people who are trapped in cycles of generational poverty, where crime rates are higher, public safety is deficient, and hopelessness is on people’s faces, even children. We prayed and planned with our staff and leaders working together for over a year, and that labor gave birth to Loving Kids!
You have partnered with Dr. Ed Young on this initiative. Talk about your respect for Dr. Young as your mentor. Dr. Ed Young is an amazing human being! When we met 33 years ago, I had just began pastoring our church. I was only 19 when we met and had been pastoring for 1 year. The first time I shook his hand was at the introduction through Dr. C.L. Jackson, another senior pastor who mentored me. But the next time we met was after a championship boxing match, we ran into each other. He allowed me to bring 70 members of our church to Second Baptist for a tour of their campus, and it changed our church! Dr. Young became an inspiring mentor for me then, and he remains to be today. How many men at his age and stage are still building and expanding? Now, he is partnering to launch Loving Kids with me. At a time when most would be preparing to land the plane, he is still looking to fly even higher to make a greater difference.
Talk about why your partnership with Dr. Young on this Loving Kids partnership is ordained by God. Houston has a new Dynamic Duo on behalf of children and community change! To hear and see Bishop Dixon and Dr. Ed Young on the same platform is an amazing and powerful picture of unity that is long overdue. This is definitely a God thing. I am humbled beyond words that He has chosen me and orchestrated this unique relationship and partnership that began with The Community of Faith and Second Baptist. When you’ve been working as passionately as we have to make a difference in the community, sometimes you get tired. Having Dr. Young and Second Baptist to come over to join us in a real and sincere way is refreshing and refueling. I believe that he saw our sincerity, our longevity and integrity. I have never made what we do to be about personal gain. We have just tried to serve. It is humbling and encouraging when someone like an Ed Young says ‘I want to come along side and work with you.’ I have had many, but this will be a true highlight of my ministry. This partnership is larger than two churches, and other pastors should be interested in joining this movement. I am so thankful to my brother and friend in ministry, Dr. Edwin Davis of Galilee Baptist Church in Acres Homes. He readily came on board. His church has always been there for our community, and his leadership is impeccable!
This is not your first initiative for the young people. Talk about where your passion for young people came from. My passion for youth came from being raised by parents and church people who poured themselves into us when we were children. I remember the time my father and mother spent running us to school, sports practices, guitar, and every other lesson. But we were always at church. I also remember the ladies who were there helping to pick up and drop off kids who needed rides, who served hot dogs on Saturdays and who taught us to respect ourselves and others. I remember the little league football coaches who poured into us. All these people were volunteers who gave time and spent their own resources to help shape our lives. So it began with them. I don’t understand how so many adults can forget that, and now they are too busy and some too self-centered to give to these children what was given to us. My passion also comes from being close enough to see the needs of children. I started Good Gang because I was sick of burying kids killed over drugs and gang wars. When you watch society write kids off because they are from certain neighborhoods and they are treated like a liability rather than an asset, it disturbs your spirit.
What are the goals of Loving Kids? We intend for the kids and schools we adopt to become models of what happens when every kid is given what they need to reach their God-given potential. We expect to see them make great progress comprehensively, including academically, artistically, and socially. We are going to help address discipline and life choices which will decrease the school to prison pipeline. We will inspire them to aim higher, going beyond high school, on to college and beyond.
Talk about why the schools were specifically chosen? Inner city schools in Houston and across America are underfunded, under staffed, and under supported. So why is there a surprise when these schools under perform? Highland Heights, Osborne, and Goodman Elementary Schools are all located on the fringes of Acres Homes. By the way, we applaud the principals of these schools, Mrs. Geraldine Cox-Highland Heights, Mrs. Jacqueline Parnell-Osborne, and Ms. Camelia Chester-Goodman. Over 80% of the students in these schools qualify for free lunch due to family economics. This is also the case for all the schools in the area. We are only beginning with three due to manpower, but eventually we plan to adopt more schools including middle and high schools.
Loving Kids will also support principals and teachers. How will they receive support? Loving Kids is a volunteer driven program. We have already recruited several hundred persons, and we are looking for more. Our aim is for every kid to have a personal mentor. We will also provide schools with tutors and support services for principals and teachers. Many schools do not have librarians or music teachers and other necessary staff. Due to budget deficiencies, principals have to choose between a school nurse or a librarian. As an inner city pastor, I understand the difficulty of needing ministry staff and services and having to make ends meet. I am sensitive to the miracles these principals have to work to give their students the best chances to succeed. The Loving Kids Volunteer Army will serve a great need!
Loving Kids has already received great support from the community, and will remind Houston that greatness can come from Acres Homes and already has. Houston’s Mayor, the Honorable Sylvester Turner spoke at the Loving Kids launch event, and he is a prime example of greatness from the Acres Homes community. Bishop Dixon is grateful for the Loving Kids Board of Directors: Chairman Jodie Jiles, accomplished businessman in our city, Judge Jeff Moseley, Laurie Robinson, and Mayor Tom Ramsey.
“The kids and our community will know several things from experiencing the fruits of this partnership. They will know that love has no color, they are loved, and that the church has placed them first,” says Bishop Dixon. He adds, “We will teach every child to see themselves as diamonds who are going to dazzle the world with their innate brilliance. Every child is a diamond waiting to be discovered and developed. Then they will dazzle us.”
Loving Kids is a nonprofit organization that greatly deserves community support. To read more about this organization and to get involved, please visit www.lovingkidstx.org.
By Dawn Paul | Associate Editor