What a wonderful day the Run For Youth turned out to be! It was Saturday morning, the weather was good which is always nice, but that wasn’t what made it a wonderful day. What really made it wonderful was the opportunity to see the life-changing power of God displayed in the lives of some of the people who came to run/walk that morning.
My wife, Barbara, and I were working at the registration table to sign in the runners who came to support the ministry. John Cragg, the Executive Director of the ministry was greeting people near the registration table when a young man about 20 years old came walking up with an older man and shook John’s hand and thanked him. At first, I thought it might be a father and son who just came together to run that morning. However, the younger man had actually been matched 12 years ago with the older man in the Youth Mentoring ministry.
He wanted to thank John for the ministry of Youth Mentoring and the life-changing effect it had on his life. He is currently enrolled in the Culinary Institute and has a promising future. He is happy and well adjusted and has had a good life with many happy memories, which he credits to his Youth Mentoring match. He related that he has a brother who did not get matched with a Youth Mentoring volunteer and unfortunately, that brother has been in and out of trouble for years, is not happy, and has no plan for a future.
Shortly after this happened another older man walked up whom my wife and I happen to know, he is a local business leader in Huntington. He had a large envelope in his hands that he gave to John. In the envelope was a picture, a copy of a birthday card, and a letter. The picture was of the older man (I’ll call him Jim*), along with his Youth Mentoring match (I’ll call him Joe*), now a 22-year-old young man. The picture was taken at Joe’s graduation from a 4-year college and showed Jim with his arm around Joe’s shoulder and Jim with a big smile.
The copy of the birthday card was from the young man, Joe, to his mentor, Jim. In the card, Joe had written that he appreciates that Jim always tells him he is a good young man and that the good traits he shows he learned from Jim. He finished the card by saying, “You really are an awesome friend.”
The letter in the envelope was from the Youth Mentoring volunteer, Jim, to John Cragg, our Executive Director. In the letter Jim wrote, “Without any exaggeration my experience with Joe has been one of the most meaningful efforts with which I have been involved in my life. The amazing thing is, showing love and concern for this 9-year old for 13 years was one of the simplest things possible.”
Yes, Saturday at the Run For Youth was a wonderful day! Thank you for your support and please keep the rest of the children, their families and the volunteers and staff of Youth Mentoring in your prayers. †