Royal Rangers: Proudly serving the Lord

Published 12:24 pm Monday, July 25, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Serving the Lord while having fun is what the Atmore First Assembly of God Royal Rangers are all about.
Senior commander for outpost 63 Rick Roberts said the goal of the Royal Rangers is simple: reach, teach and keep boys in Christ.
"We build a bridge of communication," he said. "Once you have a bridge of communication established with a young man, you can bring the gospel to him. We always have a Bible devotion every Wednesday night and even on our campouts."
The Royal Rangers are similar to the Boy Scouts of America, but is held in a church setting.
"The merit system and the system of advancement is similar to the Boys Scouts, but we have a lot of Bible merits the boys must obtain," Roberts said.
Johnnie Barnes, who was later named the first Royal Rangers national commander, founded Royal Rangers in 1962. Royal Rangers is a ministry that reaches across the United States and in over 65 nations around the world. It motivates boys spiritually through Bible study and memorization, devotionals, and Christian role models. An advanced awards-based weekly program strengthens boys mentally. Further, the boys increase their physical prowess by participation in age-specific activities and recreation. Finally, they are introduced to church, community, and nature-related activities to develop their social skills and awareness.
In fact, the Royal Rangers honor their top achievers with the Gold Medal Achievement, which is equivalent to the merits of an Eagle Scout.
Roberts said Atmore First Assembly of God's Royal Rangers program has been a big hit.
"It's going great," he said. "You're going to have your ups and downs, but the most important thing is to win young men to God, to see them come to God. That's one of my rewards. There's no price tag on that. We have a great group of young boys. They are becoming to know God more, worship God more and lead better Christian lives."
Royal Ranger Austin Albritton, 10, of Atmore said he enjoys the campouts the group goes on throughout the year.
"I like playing with the other campers," he said. "I've met lots of friends. I've learned how to do roping, astronomy and about books of the Bible."
Every year the Royal Rangers have a district Pow-Wow in Springville. Roberts said the Atmore First Assembly of God group also has campouts of their own throughout the year.
"We try to do something three or four times a quarter," he said.
The district Pow-Wow was held in June. Roberts said it was a great experience for the boys in Royal Rangers.
"They had a great time," Roberts said. "We had two boys receive baptism in the Holy Spirit. There was 300-400 boys participate statewide. It was wonderful. There were a lot of fun, dynamic activities."
Landon Kirkland, 11, of Brewton also enjoys the campouts.
"I like to go on the campouts," he said. "You learn how to tie knots and how to build fires."
Roberts, who has served as Royal Ranger commander for two years, said he enjoys sharing the ministry with the boys.
"It was pre-existing at our church and God called me into this ministry," he said. "I wanted to be plugged into some type of ministry in the church and God led me to Royal Rangers. I've had people ask me why don't I preach and I should become a preacher and I tell them no because God called into this ministry."
There are a few qualifications a person must meet before being able to lead Royal Rangers.
"They have to be a Christian, must have an outstanding background with the church, you just don't throw somebody in there," Roberts said. "One thing I ask my leaders is that they've got to have a love for boys. If they don't love boys and don't want to see them grow as Christian men, they don't need to be in that ministry."
There are four divisions of Royal Rangers. Boys 5-7-years old are part of Ranger Kids, Discovery Rangers is for boys 8-11-years old, 12-14-year olds attend Adventure Rangers, while 15-18-year olds are a part of Expedition Rangers.
Demetric Henderson, 11, of Atmore enjoys being around other boys that have the same interests as he does.
"Some of the other Rangers like sports and I like sports, so we've become friends," he said.
Roberts said participation has slacked off lately, but understands because summer is a busy time for youth with summer baseball leagues and vacations. He expects participation to increase by mid-August after school starts back.
Until then, he'll continue to recruit more boys to serve the Lord and help lead them on the right path through life.
"We plan to get more boys and more qualified leaders, not someone who is available," he said. "We want to get more boys interested in the program."

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