A Board Member's Perspective

Carlton Schlatter Profile
Article by Carlton Schlatter
Board Member

For a large share of my life, I only had a superficial understanding of Gateway Woods. My perceived understanding was that the Apostolic Christian denomination was attempting to create a field of missionary work for some unfortunate orphaned or troubled youth from a city larger than I cared to visit — except for maybe going to the zoo. I grew up in rural northwest Ohio approximately an hour from Fort Wayne, Indiana. During my sheltered childhood, Sunday was a day meant for Church, work was a necessity, parents were to be honored, an education was valued, the elderly were esteemed, the practice of love and forgiveness was taught and other virtues were maintained. At times back then, but even more so today, many youth in America are lacking this type of heritage, and many in this generation are now paying the consequences. Back then I didn’t realize the complicated situations and lifestyles many young children had, nor did I realize the numerous causes creating these needs. Fractured families, drugs, poverty, lack of any Christ-centered spiritual home environment and many other issues were real years ago, and are far more prevalent for today’s young people. In my youth and for much of my early adult years I had almost grown to believe that doing mission work meant traveling overseas to some third world country where Bibles were scarce. As I have experienced more of life and been given the opportunity to work with people, my eyes have been opened to some of the intense needs of young children and teens. When I see the emotional and physical wounds of those around me, I have asked myself, How do I go about helping these people? What role do I take? Do I have a heart of compassion to get involved? What if they have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ before and if so, what would it take to present the Gospel to them? How can I be Christ to them? What if they reject all my efforts? If Gateway Woods was operating from my Smithville Apostolic Christian Church, would the culture of my church change with their attendance and if so, would I be satisfied with that? Would I have enough love to overlook my desires and try to understand their needs? Does this sound like a missionary opportunity?

"...my eyes have been opened to some of the intense needs of young children and teens."

I have had the privilege to become more involved with Gateway Woods and learn much more of its programs by being on the Board of Directors. On the board, we discuss the challenges of continuing and expanding the vision for the future of Gateway Woods as we face many unknowns, from the areas of stewardship to new programs to revenue issues. With the government currently being a substantial revenue for the “business” of Gateway Woods, we have to address what that would look like if we choose to become a fully private organization by necessity because of our Christian foundation and mission. This is a real mission in our country. I realize every Apostolic Christian Church cannot operate a youth ministry like Gateway Woods, but I am thankful we have one.

Carlton is currently a Board Member of Gateway Woods Family Services.