Meet, Buddy Knight director of Knights' Quest Ministries; a non-profit dedicated to helping parents and youth navigate the threats that dwell on the Internet. Founded in 2001, Knight has conducted safety programs in nine states to highlight dangers, such as online predators and pervasive pornography aimed at children. Knight authored two books and has testified before a Texas legislative panel about Internet safety.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and former engineer with Texas Instruments; Knight found his passion in ministry and highlighting taboo subjects. With a Masters of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the married father of four grown children says his desire is to protect younsters and adults from the dangers behind the computer screen and promote Christian purity in relationships with his seminars, consultations and books.
We wanted to get to know Knight a little better and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions about Knights' Quest Ministries, himself and the communities it serves. (Please be advised, some material may not be appropriate for younger readers)
Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Knights' Quest Ministries.
Buddy Knight: Knights’ Quest Ministries provides programs and resources for parents, youth, and professionals on the topics of Internet safety and sex education. We believe that parents earnestly desire to protect theirds from modern dangers and activities, but are often left far behind by kids who seem “plugged in” from birth! We help adults catch up by educating and equipping them, and we help youth by educating them to the dangers of 21st Century life. Since 2001 Knights’ Quest has conducted events in 9 states across the nation. In addition to conducting live events, Knights’ Quest produces a blog entitled BLOGGING THE KNIGHTS’ QUEST (http://blog.knightsquest.org). The blog currently has over 125 articles. We also produce the SEX, KIDS, & THE INTERNET iRadio show on www.apostleradio.org. Previous episodes are being made available over the next two months on our web site, www.knightsquest.org, and on iTunes (Season 1 is already uploaded). This lets me leverage the Internet in order to impact many more families around the world! We hope to launch a video blog, focusing on “HOW TO” topics, in Summer 2014.
DT: What are your duties at Knights' Quest Ministries?
BK: I am responsible for technology and scientific research to support the programs and projects, fund-raising, legal compliance, marketing, developing seminars/programs, creating seminar-related workbooks and materials, and anything else that comes up! I also coordinate the efforts of volunteers who help with fund-raising and marketing.
DT: How did you become involved with Knights' Quest Ministries, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the organization?
BK: While completing seminars in 2001 I encountered a number of parents who were having problems with children being involved with Internet pornography, sexting, and other dangerous online behaviors. The parents didn’t have a clue about the tech culture their children were growing up in, and therefore didn’t know what to even protect their children from. I hate seeing children harmed and exploited. Between the pornographers and the predators our children are helpless targets. Kids as young as 8-10 are now exposed to explicit sexual material in the home. These children can handle the technologies, but they can’t handle the dangers. At the same time, parents can’t safeguard and safely raise them without knowing, themselves, what the threats are and how to deal with them. My goal...my dream...is to educate and equip parents to effectively safeguard their kids whether they are on the web, playing video games, or watching the myriad of TV offerings that are emerging, both on cable and streaming.
DT: Why do you work in the non-profit sector?
BK: Knights’ Quest covers both religious and purely technical subjects. Being a religious non-profit opens doors that might otherwise be closed.
DT: It can be difficult for any nonprofit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
BK: First: PRAYER!!!! Lots of prayer! I actively work to raise both funds and equipment donations. Knights’ Quest also raises funds through seminar/program fees, consulting, and the sale of program materials and workbooks. Second, I use my experience in industry and engineering to design the Ministry’s internal operations to be the most efficient and streamlined possible. Naturally, that includes maximizing the use of technology!
DT: How can the people of Tarrant County and beyond help you meet your needs for 2014?
BK: First, SPREAD THE WORD!!!! Tell your churches and schools about what Knights’ Quest offers. LIKE our Facebook page, follow us on TWITTER, and visit our blog. And spread the word WIDELY! We have served across the nation and hope to expand to other nations in the next 24 months! Second: JOIN US and our support program. You can donate online via our web site to provide a onetime gift or to set up monthly donations. We use www.justgive.org to collect and manage our online donations. We recommend a minimum donation of $50/month. That small amount will impact the lives tens of thousands of children! At the same time, we have major projects to complete that can use larger gifts! Donations are tax deductible!!! What are your biggest needs? First always: PRAYER! I deal with difficult topics that border on the taboo and need prayers for wisdom, creativity, sound health for me and my family, and for boldness! Aside from meeting regular budget there are three major development projects on tap that need funding.
1) TECH UPGRADES: I have to stay current with technology in order to enable parents stay current with the threats posed by new products and technologies. The systems and devices we tested 2 years ago are not useful or, sometimes, even relevant today. So, we have a $3,500 hardware requirement to upgrade our test and evaluation programs (Android/Windows/iOS devices, game consoles, media subscriptions, etc.). Once the equipment is purchased it will take approximately $3,000 in labor costs to do the testing and research to identify threats and vulnerabilities, and then to determine adequate defenses and publish the respective parent guides. I also need to be ready to replace the laptop used to run Knights’ Quest and the projector used when we conduct seminars.
2) VIDEO BLOG: To produce the first 4-5 episodes will require $1,500 in material and approximately $2,500 for labor. The first episodes will cover the online pornography threat, how to filter your family network, how to inspect your computer for problems, how to talk to kids about online safety, and more.
3) THE TECH-SAFE HOME: This is a new, 2-part program that has been in development as both an alternative to the SEX, KIDS, & THE INTERNET seminar. It is completing its test phase in April 2014. We need $3,000 to fund the development and initial printing of program materials.
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Knights' Quest Ministries?
BK: In 13 years it is hard to come up with just one. A few of the most memorable experiences for me were: 1.A mother called, in tears, afraid because her son (under 14) was apparently in contact w/ a predator and she didn’t know what to do. A seminar attendee had referred her to me. I was able to guide her to the resources or her community that confirmed the threat and set up a sting. 2.A couple had attended a SEX, KIDS, & THE INTERNET seminar and the husband, an IT professional/engineer, felt that he already had things locked down pretty well before he came. Two days after the event his wife went through the search steps in the seminar or book and discovered that their 14 y.o. son was deeply involved with very disturbing and deviant pornography despite the father’s efforts. Knights’ Quest helped them connect with an experienced counselor to help repair the damage that had been done to the child and also helped them better secure their network. 3.Speaking before a committee of the Texas Legislature in support of legislation supporting efforts to provide better filtering options for parents.
DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?
BK: Technically I office out of my home. In reality I am “in my office” wherever I am with my iPhone, iPad, or laptop. Because of this you could also say that I’m “at work” as soon as I kill the alarm clock as the first thing I do is grab my phone and check my ministry e-mail! Then it’s out of bed and on through my morning routine/quiet time before heading out the door to either my first appointment or to one of my favorite local haunts that offer caffeine and free Wi-Fi!!!