A Letter from Sarah

Dear Supporters of Campus Life Private Schools,

I am a graduating senior from Hathaway Brown School, and I'm writing this note to express my gratitude for your support.  I cannot imagine developing my relationship to God this year without the influence of Campus Life.  I come from a family that does not believe in any religion, but my parents had sent me to church as a child to explore Christianity.  Many of my friends when I was younger were Christian and went to church with me.  However, as I started going to public school, my relationship to God gradually weakened.  When I transfered to Hathaway Brown, I met Jen through a close friend of mine.  I have gone on a couple of the trips supported by Campus Life and met many interesting people who have shared their stories.  As I listened to what people were saying, many of their messages resonated with me.  I cannot pinpoint exactly what has led me to becoming a Christian, but the consistent presence of Campus Life over the last four years of my high school career has helped me reach where I am now.  I still have many questions, of course, but Campus Life has changed my life in a way I never could have forseen.  Thank you so much for supporting this program that has meant so much to me personally!

Gordon's Story

At 78 years old, and after years of serving in ministry, Gordon came to the realization that he had never really accepted Christ. Gordon is the father of City Life director Jonny Fine. One night at the center they had "Thanks-skitting". Jonny Fine shared the Gospel and 27 students and 3 adults accepted Christ. That night, hearing his son tell the powerful story of the Gospel, Gordon was one of those saved.  He came forward and gave his life to Jesus.  He said it felt as if, "a burden had been lifted off of [him]."  He was able to put the circumstances of his past behind him and find healing in his heart.  After all, as he said, "It doesn't take 6 months to become a Christian.  It happens the moment you decide to make Christ your Lord and Savior."  That is what Gordon did, and since then, everything has been different. "I'm a new person," he says, "and everyone says there is something different about me...I have a love for people that I couldn't even stand."  On top of all these things, his new relationship with Christ has done something else beautiful in his life.  For the first time, he has the relationship with his son, Jonny, that he always wanted.  He explained how he sees Jonny in a whole new way, as the person who brought this Truth to his life.  He said it finally brought them close together.  Our God certainly is one of redemption and restoration.  Gordon's story inspires us all to never give up sharing with those in need of the Truth.  Praise God for three generations of Fine men following Jesus Christ.

GRIP - City Life Teen Story:
A journal entry from one senior: "What I learned today was about being a good father. My biological father was not there for me but I thank God for my stepfather who has been there for all my achievements and all the good times in my life. He always taught me the right way to do things. I am a father myself and I do not want to do to my son what my father did to me. I am going to be there for my son every step of the way and be in his life as long as God keeps me on this earth." Quite a testimony to a father's love.

Campus Life Teen Story:
Tim, (name changed), the senior, who showed up at our Wednesday outreach who had just gotten out of jail that day.  Tim showed up at Crave saying he wanted more of the Lord, and to get closer to the Lord.  I had gotten together with Tim throughout the next 2 weeks to walk him through the AOC curriculum on making right choices for his court service hours.  The good news was that Tim did not have to go to jail if he passed his senior year.  But he was failing 2 classes.  I found him a fellow student tutor, and we sat with him in the CHS cafeteria getting his assignments done.  It was down to the last day…but Tim did pass and walked the stage to receive his diploma with his fellow CHS students.  We look forward to his graduation party on June 18th.  Whew!!! Tim accepts Christ, we help keep him out of jail, and help him graduate high school. God is good!

JJM Teen Life Story:
I was born in Mombasa, Kenya. I’ve lived a difficult life. I wasn’t born in a hospital like most of my peers. I was born in ahut. My mother almost died giving birth to me. Growing up in Kenya was hard and it got even harder around the age of four when my mother left Africa. I had to take care of myself, a four year old. In my country, when people get caught stealing, they don’t get put in jail. They usually end up getting killed. And at the age of four, that’s something I had to risk every day because I had to find a way to eat. In my mind it wasn’t a hard decision to make because either way I would’ve ended up dead, if I didn’t eat or stole something. So for the next couple of years, this was my life day in and day out. I got older and my mother got back in touch with me and brought me to America. Now my biggest dream is to give back to the people of my country. I know right now there are hundreds/thousands of kids starving like I was and in even worse shape. My dream is to make orphanages for those kids. Give them a home they could go to, stay warm, educated and introduce them to Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I would love to show people that there is more to life than the everyday things we see.

City Life Teen Story:
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to take Steven (name changed) out to breakfast. He’s a senior at the Cleveland school of Digital ARTS. Steven and I met last year at the high school I work at. He quickly became involved with our weight-training program at Jesus Speaks Ministries and accepted Christ as Savior. At the breakfast Stephon told me that he has been accepted to attend college at Ohio State! He will be the first one of his family to go to college.

GRIP - City Life Teen Story:
After attending the GRIP Suspension Program for the third time this year, a seventh grade girl was able to overcome anger and hatred toward her father who was divorced from her mom and incarcerated. This was the source of her trouble at school causing her to be suspended. One of GRIP's female volunteers was able to help her write a letter to her father asking to restore the broken relationship.The letter was written and mailed. God does do miracles.

Ministry Events Teen Story:
Michael (name changed) is a 12 year old student that attends Mooney Middle School. During class one day, when the discussion of facing challenges came up, he cried out about his mom hates him and does not want anything to do with him. He was in tears as he spoke about his mom telling him he would never achieve anything in life. A week later, Michael attended YFC’s Sports All-Nighter. That night he found out that Christ loves him and made a decision to accept Christ into his life. Now, Michael is determined to prove his mom wrong. He has been more vocal in class, strong participant in City Life’s Ambassador of Compassion group, and is enjoying City Life’s afterschool Basketball Program. Please pray that Michael continues to feel Christ’s love.

Campus Life Teen Story:
Every Wednesday, I meet with 13 girls in Berea – Midpark HS. All of these girls have various problems, ranging from typical high school drama, to more serious issues. Taylor was one such girl.

During a discussion on forgiveness, Taylor shared that she was the product of her mother’s incestuous rape and that the same man molested her in elementary school. Taylor kept repeating phrases like, “I was never meant to be here,” “My life doesn’t matter,” and even worse, “I am a mistake.”  I told her that she was not a mistake, that even though the circumstances of her birth were terrible and painful for her family, that they had no bearing on whom Taylor was as a person. I also told Taylor that she was a smart and funny girl whose life has a purpose. We argued about this, Taylor having such little self-esteem that she couldn’t believe anything positive about herself.

JJM Teen Story:
Last month, we entered the institution and there was a somber feeling in the air. We were taken aside and warned the kids were struggling because two boys that had been released recently were shot and killed that week. I went into the Chaplain’s office and she pulled up their pictures for me. My heart sank. One of the boys we had spent so much time with.

What can I tell you? I am a mother. Jake was a beautiful young man. Vibrant, full of life and humor. He was a handsome kid with a son at home. We had shared Christ with him every week and it wasn’t until his last week there that he prayed with us. He was robbing a house, the owner had a gun and shot this beautiful boy in the heart. The owner was protecting his family from an intruder. He didn’t know it was a 19 year old kid making his final bad choice in life.

The other young man was on a unit we visited weekly. He was breaking into a neighborhood store, he wasn’t armed. He too faced this final door.

Their faces hung in front of me for the next week. Every time I thought of Jake, I saw him smiling during our game time on the unit. There was so much kid in him. I couldn’t shake the heaviness. I saw our city streets as ravenous wolves preying on our kids as they become statistics in someone’s news story.

But they aren’t statistics. They are kids whose stories matter and deserved a better ending. I hate this door. It is the one door I can’t get behind and rescue a kid from. But it is the one door we can all fight to rob from further victims. There is only one who can overcome this door and His name is Jesus. He robbed this door when He beat the grave. It is the hope we offer….we you help us free youth from this door?

City Life Teen Story:
I remember when Luis first started coming to our City Life Club back in 2005. He was a 15 year old kid in the 8th grade. Luis was facing some serious challenges with his education and at home. I noticed that there was something special about him. He was an outgoing kid who always wore a smile on his face and he was a joy to have around. You see, Luis has had to deal with a severe learning disability that has challenged his ability to read beyond a 3rd grade level. This has caused him to feel insecure and discouraged on many occasions about how his life would end up. In addition, his home situation was challenging. He was raised in a single parent home and although his mom did as much as she could with what she had, it was not always enough. At times their family would have to go without electricity or gas. Things were really tough.

Things really turned around in Luis’s life when he accepted Christ at Project Serve in 2007. Through this experience, he learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ and serve his community as an indigenous leader. Since then, Luis has been an active part of building the City Life Ministry in Cleveland through being a City Life Student Ambassador in his high school years. He would take the lead in running games and volunteering at events. He even recruited his friends to attend events with the purpose of hearing the gospel. After graduating high school, Luis asked to become a part of our leadership team through participating in the VIT training and discipleship initiative. Luis has served as a camp counselor for middle school students for the past 3 years.

Today he is still actively involved in City Life. He co-leads a Bible study with me for our volleyball team and also helps lead Club. Luis will complete his final year of VIT training and has even asked about becoming a City Life staff member. I am proud to introduce you all to Luis and I am grateful for his journey.