Inviting you for a life changing journey to learn how City Life and Youth For Christ is transforming the lives of youth in our inner city. Tuesday, April 16th we want you to join us for lunch and inspiration. Come see how we do it. Will you join me to Be The Story?
I met this punk kid from the Bronx when he was the keynote speaker for our Rainmakers Christian Professional networking meeting. Unshaven, baseball cap pulled low, knife blade scar on his face, one might make a judgement until he tells his story. Danny Marquez was abandoned as a child, mother left the country, dad died of aids from drug use. A kind woman literally picked him up from her doorstep and took him in. Insecure from rejection from this family, Danny pushed out into the streets to gain acceptance. He learned the power of money and that a gun had the authority to make people bow before you.
At the End of Himself
Danny made a series of bad decisions. He ran away at 11 years old. No one was going to tell him what to do, not his parents, not his teachers. He learned the code of the streets and was fully immersed in criminal activity and in no time he found himself facing 45 years of life in prison. It was in Nassau County Correctional institution where Danny realized how broken he was with no purpose, no sense of direction, he was lost.
A memory came to his mind that revolutionized his heart. It was a memory of a person Danny robbed. I put the gun to his face, I demanded his money and unfortunately he resisted so I pistol whipped him and blood was gushing everywhere and the dude steps back and looks me square in the eye and he says ?May God Bless You?. That man could have done anything to me at that moment, he could have run, he could have called the police, but he chose to bless me rather than curse me. He spoke life into my corpse. I was a dead man walking. And in my jail cell, this memory was relentlessly pursuing me, driving me to my knees. I reflected on the God that my adopted mom had tried to tell me about growing up. In my complete brokenness, I cried out to God asking for his forgiveness for all that I had done. And when I got up off my knees, for the first time in my life, I felt accepted and I felt free.”
Free Even Behind Bars
While still behind bars, Jesus broke the chains of bondage. I learned I do have purpose and he designed me for the intention of glorifying him.The Lord spoke a calling in Danny?s spirit and said I want you to go back into the same kind of communities you once helped destroy and I want you to start to rebuild them.
We Have Been Called
Jesus has called all of us to step into those dark spaces and be a light for Him. How do you do it? Do you want to impact a life, do you want to engage the next generation of leaders…love on them. That is all you need to do.
What would it take for you to step into the life of a young person, the next generation of leaders and impact their life for Jesus and make a difference in their world?
Easy to Serve
Danny snuck up on me and asked me to help him write his monthly newsletter. Yes, I could do that. But what happened is I got to know the young people. They stole my heart. Young men showed up to detail cars at City Life Wheels and I was hooked by their stories. These teenage boys thought this old lady white woman was actually pretty cool. Then I see them show up to robotics club at my friend Dr. Ping’s school and there is that sly smile of “hey I know you.”? We continued telling stories right where we left off the first night we met.
What does an old woman know about inner city youth of today? Not a darned thing, but the common desire we all have is to be known, to be valued, to be loved on. Yes, I can do that. Can you?
Full Disclosure Fairness Warning:? If you join us for lunch, will you arrive prepared for God to work on your heart to journey with us in prayer, or to prepare a meal for our student small groups, or join our team as a small group leader for six weeks, or give a financial gift to maximize the impact of this ministry in the community?
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a freelance journalist connecting people through the stories they tell. She is a storyteller for City Life and is a volunteer serving Youth For Christ.