What Drives Us
To be a PLACE and a PROCESS to develop unfathered, under-fathered and at-risk boys and girls into global-minded leaders of God’s design.
Fighting for the Underdogs
JCLC is a Christian nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by Pastor Jerry Mitchell. After spending several years circling his next stage of life and ministry in prayer, Jerry felt God calling him to create a place and a process to fill the gap in the lives of young people who lack access to godly leadership, especially in their immediate families.
There is a deplorable lack of male leadership in our culture. Six out of ten children living in Cleveland do not go home to a dad. A father is called to speak truth into his children’s lives and to show them how to lead and how to love as God commands. When the father is absent and/or not willing to fulfill his God-ordained role in the family, children and mothers desperately need someone to fill this role.
6 out of 10 children living in Cleveland do not go home to a dad.
We can complain about the lack of godly fathers, or we can pray, listen and obey by taking strategic action to combat its effect on families and children’s eternal lives. God used two key Bible verses and the powerful story of Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 13:1-14:38) to convict, compel and inspire Jerry to start Joshua and Caleb Leadership Center in response to this need:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
“These commandments that I give to you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them to your forehead. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9
“Joshua and Caleb said to the Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Numbers 14:6-9
JCLC began as a ministry serving solely fatherless children, but as God led, JCLC’s scope expanded beyond just the fatherless to include all at-risk children, many of whom do lack a godly father figure present in the home. God also connected JCLC to many African refugee children who have been resettled in Cleveland after being forced out of their home countries due to war and political unrest. This population of children has unique needs that go beyond those of an urban child, requiring the JCLC curriculum and leadership to adapt to varying levels of English language ability and American cultural understanding.
Why Joshua and Caleb?
At-risk kids often lack hope for their futures due to the great brokenness and uncertainty that exists in their homes and communities. They must be encouraged to look past what they see with their physical eyes and embrace the truth of God with their spiritual eyes. Joshua and Caleb did not deny the reality of their situation, but they saw past earthly obstacles and barriers and had a vision far beyond their own capacity – a God-sized vision. God opened their eyes and gave them the faith to trust and follow Him, despite what everyone around them said. Joshua and Caleb’s focus on the presence and power of God allowed them to be lifted beyond the paralyzing fear and desperation of their circumstances into harmony with God’s love and faithfulness. They knew their outcome was in God’s hands, not their own. They had a supernatural confidence in God that far outweighed their fear.
JCLC is in Cleveland to help give this same confidence to children and mothers, by sharing with them the love and hope of Jesus Christ. That life-changing hope comes through God-sized vision.
Rev. Jerry Mitchell
Director of Operations
Board of Directors
BOARD CHAIR – Julia Ellifritt, MSSAS, LISW-S
Director of Education and Community Engagement, Cornerstone of Hope Bereavement Center
Adjunct Professor, Case Western Reserve University
Minister Linda Anderson Gaines, MA, PCC-S
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
Dr. Gerald Juhnke, Ed. D., LPC, NCC, MAC, ACS
Professor/The University of Texas at San Antonio
Chris Steinmann, M.A.
Superintendent & CEO, Cleveland Lutheran High School Association
Van Lunen Fellow in Christian School Executive Management, Calvin College
Emilee Weatherred, B.A.
Consultative Analytics Manager, Broadspire
We believe God’s Word clearly commands the church to intentionally invest in widows and orphans.
We believe it is our mission to serve the local church by investing in at-risk boys, girls and their mothers.
We believe men and women of the church who choose to invest in an at-risk child are investing in an eternal person who matters to God.