#YFCBetheStory: Youth For Christ Life Change Still Happens Every Day!
Youth For Christ City Life Center in Cleveland Connects with Kids and Continues to Meet Needs Through Dinner Distribution; Upcoming Virtual Event Shares Stories of Impact—Always the Message of Jesus
April 21, 2020
Englewood, Colo.—For many ministries serving youth, the way they meet, gather and engage has changed drastically. While these circumstances are temporary, missional organizations like Youth For Christ USA have creatively integrated new technologies in the unique ways they connect and serve.
Today, Youth For Christ’s commitment to its 76-year foundational mission to reach lost youth everywhere is stronger than ever.
“There has never been a more important time to reach youth with the message of Jesus, and now more than ever, as the world deals with unprecedented situations and circumstances, youth in America and around the world need Christ in a very real way,” said Youth For Christ President Dan Wolgemuth. “While the way we connect kids—to each other, to our staff and to Jesus—may have changed for the time being, their needs have not.”
Through a new way to share stories called #YFCBetheStory, Youth For Christ is working to spread the word about how YFC chapters across the nation continue to make a difference in their communities.
For example, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Greater Cleveland Youth For Christ City Life Center (CLC) has been distributing hundreds of packaged dinners to Cleveland youth each weekday afternoon throughout the coronavirus crisis. City Life Director Jonny Fine and his team have been working with area churches and restaurants to make the much-needed meals possible, and are looking to Matthew 25:35-36 for the call to serve: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
During the first week of the outreach, CLC distributed about 250 meals, but the number climbed to over 800 meals last week, as more families are in need due to lost jobs and decreased income.
“We usually feed our teens an after-school meal, so we decided that providing daily grab-and-go meals for our teens and their families would be one of the best ways to come alongside them during this COVID-19 pandemic for a few reasons,” Fine said. “One, with 71% of our teens at or below the poverty line, they depend heavily on school lunches; no school right now means no lunch. Two, our community is a food desert. And three, many of our parents have lost their jobs and are trying to manage an already stressful situation before COVID-19.”
Fine added that the YFC center is at the heart of Clark Fulton, a thriving community full of vibrancy and diversity, home to over 11,000 residents and the densest population of Hispanic and Latino residents in the state of Ohio. Overall, he said, the population of the neighborhood is approximately 64% Hispanic/Latinx, 34% white, 17% black and 3% other, with a median household income at $22,900.
“Our teens and their families have been so appreciative of the meals that YFC/City Life have been able to give them with the help of our church partners,” Fine said. “Parents have been more engaging than usual, and some of our parents have asked for us to pray for them when they pick up food or when we deliver it to those that can’t get to the City Life Center. We have also seen our teens and their parents empowered to help others who are in need.”
Fine also shared the story of providing a meal for a young man CLC serves who has been “managing a negative home life and homelessness ‘couch-surfing’” for the past year.
“The meal outreach has helped us help him to reconnect with his family in ways that were not open in the past,” Fine said. “We are now working with him to make sure that he finishes high school, stays employed and stays at home with his mother. Also, because of our relationship with him, he has helped us identify other families he has temporarily stayed with that could use food and encouragement. We are happy to help! This young man’s family is also being blessed every day with a meal now that he is back home. We continue to pray for this family and as they navigate some serious issues and past childhood trauma.”
The City Life Center is also planning a virtual #YFCBetheStory event to share compelling stories of kids whose lives have been changed by God through the ministry of Youth For Christ. At 7 p.m. ET April 24, online guests can join the Cleveland City Life Team for an engaging one-hour, online event to learn about how God is using the ministry to impact the lives of youth in Cleveland. Register for the Greater Cleveland Youth For Christ City Life virtual event here.
Throughout the nation, Youth For Christ works closely 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. Dedicated staff continue to reach youth right where they are as they discover ways to serve youth and families, meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.