One Year Later

In the midst of the sad story of September 11, 2001, there is a good news story unfolding about the Young Life work with unreached kids in the New York City community. We certainly had New York City on our radar screen, but that tragic day reminded us again of the need to be intentional in a vision for that great city. I asked Chris Cockfield, one of our great staff there, to put together a brief update on some of what has unfolded in the last year in that city with our Young Life work. Mac McNally and his great team, including Young Life Board of Trustees member Morgan Mitchell, have worked with real passion and energy, building on the historic work of Bo Nixon and the wonderful New Life team. We want you to hear some of the “good news.”
 
Lee Corder, Senior Vice President,
Eastern Division and
Chaplain Emeritus of the Washington Redskins

On September 11, 2002, many Americans asked each other, “Where were you last year on 9/11? How did your life change as a result of that horrible day?” Young Life staff in New York City have also been answering that question. Here are a few of our thoughts ...
 
Chris Garde
(Pending Area Director, Spanish Harlem, New York City)
September 11, 2001 — I was living on the San Diego/
Tijuana, Mexico, border serving in my ninth year of ministry to teenagers in housing projects of the San Diego South Bay area 3,000 miles away from my family in upstate New York. After the terrorist attacks, I felt a real sense of urgency to go back east to be near my family. I still had a heart for inner-city Hispanic kids and the Young Life mission, and began looking for an opportunity to be near my family and to love kids from poor, Spanish speaking–neighborhoods in the unique and powerful Young Life way.
September 11, 2002 — I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to begin ministry in Spanish Harlem, New York City. God continues to confirm my leaving San Diego as the neighborhood kids there — who are now leading the ministry — call weekly with updates on the powerful ways God is moving. Raising local leadership and watching them grow into young men and women who are strong in their faith is a gift.
Janella “Noonie” Curtis is a club kid from the South Bay area of San Diego who became a WyldLife leader after graduating from high school. She has moved to Spanish Harlem to live with her grandfather and to finish college in New York City. She is a gifted young woman who is passionate about Christ, kids and the ministry of Young Life. She called me recently and said, “Chris ... Everyday I walk past so many kids who are lost ... who need Christ ... When do we start club?” I’ve tried to explain the need to lay a foundation in order for the ministry to be sustained, but I am grateful for her anxiousness to begin. I am in the process of raising money, building a committee and building relationships in the neighborhood in order to begin the work with kids. We meet weekly to pray together and to watch as the Lord brings people and resources for bringing the light of Christ into a dark place.
 
Troy Grant
(Acting Area Director, Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen, NYC)
 September 11, 2001 — I was talking, praying and
crying with terrified kids at a drop-in center we had set up in a church in the heart of Times Square. This church space was to become our club space, but instead was quickly
transformed into a disaster relief area for Ground Zero workers, leaving us without a place to hold club. The neighborhood smelled of ash and smoke, and kids were afraid of what tomorrow might bring.

September 11, 2002 — The future that seemed so
uncertain a year ago is showing continuity and strength through our ongoing ministry to kids in Hell’s Kitchen. When the world fell apart, Young Life was there for the kids. Still without club space, we have continued contact work and Campaigners in the Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. After last December’s winter weekend at Lake Champion, our kids began traveling on the train to Norwalk, Conn., to attend their weekly club, and 24 students experienced “the best week of their lives” at Lake Champion this summer. God is blessing our ministry with new volunteer leaders, new kids and, at last, a new club space complete with a gym and kitchen for club this fall. We continue to pray for funding for a full-time area
director who can continue to bring hope for a bright future in Jesus to the kids living in this neighborhood at the “crossroads of the world.”
 
Kris Miracola
(Area Director, Gramercy Park, New York City)
 September 11, 2001 — Young Life for this area was just a thought or prayer uttered by many adults in New York City. We had no staff, no volunteers nor a place to hold
any sort of event for kids. We were just a group of people committed to praying. I was a recent recruit to this prayer team and in throws of pursuing God to confirm if He was indeed leading me to full-time ministry with Young Life.

September 11, 2002 — This day has become a sort of dividing line for New Yorkers and especially for those of us involved with Young Life here. For Gramercy Park, the day of devastation helped to catapult us from a prayer to reality. In just a few weeks God established a team of six volunteer leaders and me as the area director. Campaigners started; kids attended winter weekend at Lake Champion and a Campaigner weekend; kids participated on a work crew; and the guys went snow-skiing. We were underway! Club began in the spring, and we took our first summer camp trip to Saranac in August. One of our campers, Missy, came to Saranac to be with her boyfriend, but after a week of tough questions, she came to the conclusion that Jesus is all that she had been searching for. To express her gratitude, Missy wrote a letter to Mike Terranova, the camp speaker, summer staff and work crew. Below is an excerpt:
 “You’ve given me a pair of glasses. Some of you
 designed them, and some of you simply wiped them   clean, but no matter what your task was, each of you has  helped me out. Instead of struggling, you’ve shown me   to let Jesus into my life, and I have.”
We as a staff hope that Missy speaks for all the hundreds of thousands of kids in New York City who might have an opportunity to meet Jesus through the work of Young Life during the years to come.