​Gerald Garcia

October 21, 1962 – October 30, 2019

By Kevin Suwyn, senior vice president, Latin America / Caribbean

It is with deep sadness that I write to share news of the passing of our brother, lover of Mexico and Young Life staff person of 33 years — Gerald Garcia. After many years of service to kids and our Lord, Gerald most recently gave himself, his passion and love toward the developing work in Mexico. He brought huge vision and relentless energy to advancing the Kingdom in this part of God’s world. This brother was led by the Holy Spirit throughout his days, and was a man who “started fires” — movements that are now spreading as we go to kids. Years ago Gerald came to the training center in Costa Rica and drew a 10-city vision map of Mexico with a Sharpie on our wall! That map stayed on the wall, and we were reminded to pray, and he kept dreaming.

Working with Gerald has blessed my life, even as he battled with brain cancer. As his body slowed down, he became even more focused on reaching “the next kid!” Perhaps Johny, one of our area directors in Mexico, says it best:​

“When Mexico was in need, he heard the call. When Chiapas needed an embrace, Gerald and Donna came to us and taught us to do ministry as a family, to walk together and trust in His perfect will. They challenged us to walk in faith and believe in the God of the impossible. Those of us who walked with him — we know he knew the heart of God.”

As his family has said, the best way to honor him is to “live radically, and love extravagantly.” Join us in praying for Donna, and their children and grandchildren.

Eva Flowers

December 20, 1928 – December 24, 2019

By Jeff Chesemore

Along with her husband, Bob, Eva Flowers was a pillar in Young Life’s early Colorado camping days. The couple were instrumental in the initial work at Rancho Caballo, the headquarters for Young Life’s horse program, and Trail West Lodge, the mission’s first adult guest lodge.

On Dec. 2, 1947, Eva married Bob (who preceded her in death in 2005), and over the next decade, Bob and Eva had four children, Vicki, Robert, Jolene and Ronald.

By 1958, Young Life was in need of a horse ranch for its three Colorado camps: Silver Cliff and Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, and Star Ranch, in Colorado Springs. The mission purchased Rancho Caballo, a 640-acre ranch to alleviate this need. That same year, Young Life hired Bob and Eva to run the ranch and care for the 120 horses.

Eva recalled their initiation into the busy Young Life camp season. “The summers were filled with dealing with the horse program, building relationships with the wranglers and summer staff, irrigating and participating in the various activities going on at the camps.”

“We had met Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life,” Eva continued. “He enjoyed joining our family for my chicken and noodles and homemade rolls!” As Jim spent time on the ranch, he quickly realized this property could also be the perfect spot for his vision of a place where adults could observe Frontier Ranch and Silver Cliff’s camping programs. In 1964, his dream was realized with the opening of Trail West Lodge.

Eva quickly became Trail West’s secretary, head housekeeper and “worked wherever else there was a need.” The couple worked for Young Life for two decades, with Eva supplementing their income through driving a school bus. Over the years the Flowers family became synonymous with Rancho Caballo and Trail West Lodge, eventually seeing three generations serve there.

“I praise God the Father for letting me be a part of this beginning,” Eva said. “I praise Him and thank Him for bringing all the staff and the guests through the years. I thank Him for bringing many to know our Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. To God be the glory. Great things He hath done.”

Bill Taylor

July 10, 1932 – January 30, 2020

By Jeff Chesemore

Bill Taylor, who served in various capacities with the mission for 30 years, is now in the presence of his beloved Savior. He joined the headquarters staff in 1964 at the request of President Bill Starr, who recognized Young Life’s need for a new organizational structure.

These excerpts from Made for This: The Young Life Story explain the necessity of hiring a man of Bill’s background:

In 1964, the mission had outgrown the structure that had been in effect since 1941. Starr and the board set about to transform Young Life from a pioneering model, based on one man’s vision of management, to a corporate one, a challenging transition to say the least. The new president understood the growing pains that might ensue. “I think there’s a constant tension—in the ‘freewheeling, allow the spirit of God to direct’ (whatever that looks like), over against ‘how do we organize for mission effectiveness?’”

To accomplish this, Starr immediately surrounded himself with the right people. Starr brought in Bill Taylor, a businessman and committeeman from Chicago, who would help build on the strong foundation John Carter had already laid, by revitalizing the headquarters and its many moving parts.

Right away Taylor saw what Starr had known. “The real question was,” Taylor suggested, “Is this a professional business or a mission? Well it’s both. You can’t have a mission without both.

“There was a need to grow from a first generation to second generation company,” Taylor said. “This was a very critical stage in the mission. The mission would not have lasted if it hadn’t changed.”

Here are just a few of the creative ways Bill Taylor left his mark on the mission:

Installed Young Life’s first computer (!) 
Created the Information Services department
Divided Young Life into three sections: Services, Camping and Field Operations
Formulated master plans for each camp 
Helped with the creation and development of the Dale House

In his three decades, Bill served under four Young Life presidents in roles such as vice president of Administrative Services, director of Properties (Camping) and advisor to the International Division. Throughout his faithful tenure, he was quick to befriend young staff and encourage them as they endeavored to introduce kids to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.​