Rod Redcay spent most of his adult life ministering to young people. He has a heart for at-risk youth, because he says in his own words “I once was considered at-risk too.” But it was the grace of God and a praying mother that kept Rod out of trouble. When his father left the family, his mother got him and his brother back into her family’s church where there were loving and caring adults and peers to provide attention they were missing from their father. Times were not easy but he made it into adult-hood and even got married and started a family of his own.
Now, he sees the values that were instilled in him at a young age are missing from a lot of youth today. “It’s amazing to think about the times when I was younger and never even heard about drugs in school, now it’s in our first and second grades!” Yes, Rod remembers talk of a spiritual bubble that once kept this small farming community of Lancaster County away from all the negative influences of the world. Not any longer.
You don’t have to think back too far when our small suburban communities were rocked with youth violence, not from big City, but Lititz, Leola, Manheim Township, the Roseboro murder, and the tragedy at Nickel Mines will never leave our minds. What has happened to our beloved bubble that was protecting us for so long? Rod has a few of his own ideas, but there is a serious situation of critical proportions and if something doesn’t change soon, we may lose a generation.
In October 2015, the organization changed it’s name to R.E.A.L. Life Community Services to better help those in need in our local community. The mission statement changed to, “To provide support and quality services to impact the lives of those we touch and leads them to Christ.”
Rod has been working with youth for the past 20 years in church as well as a youth outreach in Warwick, Ephrata, Cocalico and has also helped the Salvation Army start their very first youth evangelistic center in Punxsutawney Pa. Rod shares, “The biggest reason I was considered at-risk was because I didn’t have a strong family unit that is so needed to nurture a child. The best possible environment in a family unit consists of a father and a mother who love and respect each other, their children, and most of all, their God. With the breakup of the family unit today, it produces more young people who are angry and bitter inside.
The difference is that many of these children from broken homes don’t have the support network of a church family. I even hate to say this but the troubled youth today, would not be accepted by most of our churches. Before you get offended, answer this question. Would you tell your little 12 yr old Johnny to go ahead and play with Nate down the street because he’s gotten into a little trouble smoking dope, cutting school, and beating up other kids? NO, of course not, I wouldn’t let my son either. So what happens to them? They get ostracized by the community, put in detention centers, and start a lifestyle of crime and incarceration for the rest of their life. There can be a stop to this. There can be a way out for these young people. I like what a local middle school teacher told me, ‘I never met a bad kid, just kids who made bad choices.’ That is exactly true. Therefore, I see only one solution to a problem this great. It is to develop an organization that will include the community and work together to tackle this huge issue.