‘God loves us so much that He chose to redeem our stories and change our sin-scarred street corners into holy ground’
February 7, 2022
DULUTH, MN— At the same place where appalling events occurred 100 years ago, God has intentionally placed Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net), a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, and ordained it to be a space for redemption and restoration. YFC Head of the Lakes’ City Life Center features a memorial plaque remembering three black men killed by a mob in 1920. However, in a place where there was tragedy and pain, the YFC building has become a beacon of hope and healing for the Duluth community.
Ryan Dougherty, National Chapter Lead for Youth For Christ USA, attests to the impact YFC has in the community and God’s hand in healing.
Dougherty commented, “The City Life Center is just off the heart of downtown Duluth and there are vacant buildings, a soup kitchen, and a few buildings being renovated in the vicinity of the YFC building. On the corner in front of the City Life Center is a large blue plaque titled ‘Lynching In America.’ This historic place marker details Americas’ history of violence toward blacks, including in Duluth. In 1920, a mob of Duluth citizens broke into the jail where three black men accused of rape were being held. The mob pulled them into the streets and placed nooses around their necks and hanged them from a lamp post on the very corner where YFC now sits. Whenever I read this sign and view the memorial for the three black men across the street, I am reminded of how great of a God we serve—a God that can take a place where unspeakable violence was done and place YFC there years later.
“We have the great honor of serving a loving Father who loves us so much that He chose to redeem our stories and change our sin-scarred street corners into holy ground.”
YFC Head of the Lakes is perfectly placed to serve the community and its needs. Near the YFC City Life, there is Encounter, the only indoor skatepark in Minnesota, where YFC does much of its ministry in the town of Duluth. In the cold winter months when youth are looking for something to do, the skate park becomes a place for kids to come and build relationships.
Doughtery stated, “The skate park draws in a lot of kids in the neighborhood.”
As YFC in Duluth seeks more leaders to serve the city, Dougherty is confident in God’s work, as God has been intentionally moving in small cities like Duluth that can sometimes be overlooked.
Dougherty concluded, “Even in the darkest times, God is continuing to redeem people’s lives. God opens up new opportunities for YFC to serve kids and provide for needs, holistically, spiritually, and physically. I’m just thankful for places like Duluth that are often overlooked.”
YFC chapters impact thousands of communities across the nation, seeking out and serving youth from all walks of life. Young people are silently struggling through a wide variety of challenging issues—and through the YFC ministry God empowers, they see the living power of a loving God. YFC trains its leaders in a proven, relational ministry model called 3Story®, which encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while also sharing the stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of everyday life to lead people to Christ.
YFC has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and it is always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has over 130 chapters that impact communities across America.