Renegade began in the summer of 2008 as a small Bible study for students attending a middle school adjacent to Xenos’ 4th Street Pavilion. Our earliest meetings featured a short teaching and a fun activity.
During the late summer and fall of 2008 volunteers slowly won the trust of students and our group began to grow. On a bitterly cold night in the winter of 2008-2009, a Renegade volunteer knocked on the front door of a student’s home to take her to a meeting. A 12-year-old opened the door and invited the volunteer inside. Standing in the living room, the volunteer noticed that everyone in the family was bundled up. She could see their breath in the cold air. In the kitchen, an infant was being kept warm by the open door of an electric oven. The child’s mother explained that the gas had been turned off the prior week. Until that night, none of our volunteers fully appreciated the challenges that our students and families face. Sobered by this experience, we began to take a closer look at what our kids were up against:
- Broken homes with single parents.
- The threat of being “jumped” on the way to school.
- Influential peers and family members drawing them into high-risk behaviors like substance abuse, promiscuity, and committing crimes.
- Poverty and associated problems including poor diet, limited access to health care, and failing schools.
Over the next few years, a variety of initiatives were launched to enhance our work with students including providing meals, tutoring, summer enrichment camps, weekly Bible studies, one-on-one discipleship, and life coaching. Students came in greater numbers and brought younger and older siblings, forcing us to divide what was a junior high Bible study into several studies for different age groups. Then we launched two satellite locations to better serve kids in other parts of Columbus. Today, Renegade serves over 150 students aged from pre-school through 12th grade at eight different locations in the Columbus area.