BY RENÉE MARTIN | PHOTOS BY DAPHNE WALKER
Gady Youmans loves to talk about the Bible. As the Executive
Director of Sweet Onion Christian Learning Center, he gets to do
that on a daily basis with high school students seeking elective
credit in the public school system. So, just how does this work?
Recently, we sat down with Gady to get a better understanding of
the details–Who, What, Where, When and Why–of his off-campus
Bible courses. Here he explains the passion behind his ministry
and how it works with public education.
TCM: WHAT IS THE SWEET ONION CHRISTIAN
LEARNING CENTER CLC?
GADY: Sweet Onion Christian Learning
Center is a ministry that provides Biblical
Discipleship Courses to public school students
during the school day for elective credit under
the authority of the Released Time Education
TCM: WAS THERE SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR
THAT LED YOU TO START THIS MINISTRY?
GADY: I lost my father at the age of eight
when he died suddenly of a heart attack. But
I found my heavenly Father at the age of 15.
Because of that, I no longer lived an angry life
or identified with a victim mentality.
When I was 16, I felt called by God
into fulltime ministry. I served in my local
church through college, and then as a youth
minister in Mount Vernon for about two years
after I graduated from college. During that
time, I noticed that students were not going
to church. We have over 2,000 high school
students in Toombs and Montgomery counties,
and on any given Sunday there might be 300
in church. Young people used to come with
their parents or at least get dropped off. Not
I had the idea that if youth were not
coming to the church, I needed to go where
they were. You know, they don’t have to come
to church, but they do have to go to school.
So, I decided to substitute teach. That way I
could at least have some time with them and
a chance to build some relationships. I started
substitute teaching at Montgomery County
High School and also served as the chaplain of
the football team. Almost every day I thought
how awesome it would be if I could teach Bible
to them at school every day.
About a year after I started substitute
teaching, I met a couple at an event in Lyons
who had started a “Christian Learning Center”
in Walton County, Georgia. I think they’ve
been in existence for about 20 years now. The
man sat at the table with me and asked what
I did. I told him I was a youth minister and
substitute teacher. He started telling me about
Hometown Living At Its Best 43