Introducing Campus Life Private Schools Alumni Program
Last month Campus Life Private Schools launched a new alumni program. 17 students from years past gathered on Zoom to reconnect with old friends and mentors and receive encouraging messages of faith and hope. Three student speakers shared stories of how their faith has grown or been challenged in the years since leaving high school, especially in the season of COVID. This inspired all the students to open up about their questions, hopes, and struggles as if time had stood still. One student even offered this feedback about the event:
"I loved connecting with everyone! It made a blessing out of COVID because we all know how to use the technology and are comfortable meeting virtually. I also loved that we went into breakout rooms. It was nice to catch up with a few people at a time. It was refreshing to reconnect with people who have a shared experience of private school, and it was fun to catch up in school-specific breakout rooms afterward! I loved that we mixed up the schools for the discussion though."

Hope for Manuel

The Covid-19 Pandemic has been very hard on our students. We have been flooded with text messages asking when things will return to normal. Just the other day, Manuel, a Brooklyn Campus Life student, texted our staff at 1am expressing how he felt so lost and lonely.  He said he misses how he would get a hug from Joanne and how loved he always feels at Campus Life Club.  He also shared feelings of disconnect from his friends and God.  He expressed how "he needed Jesus" in his life and club helped him with that.  We joyfully got to share with him that Campus Life small groups are launching in Brooklyn that very week.  Nick, our director, also invited him and a friend out for dinner to connect on a deeper level.  We praise God for His constant working through the work of our staff and in the hearts of our students!

Jenna's Story

Even in the midst of the dark days of the pandemic, we praise God for the ways He has been working in the lives of students like Jenna. During one weekly YFC student zoom call, Jenna was the only student to join. Over the next hour, Jenna heard the Gospel of Jesus for the first time and, in that moment, chose to begin a relationship with Jesus (over Zoom!), declaring it was "the best day of her life." We celebrate with Jenna and the dozens of other students who chose to follow Jesus this year!

A New Heart of Flesh

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."- Ezekiel 36:26

Our Juvenile Justice Ministry team first met Jacob several years back while he was being processed into one of our local juvenile detention facilities.  While going through intake, one of our volunteer ministry leaders shared with Jacob the hope of the Gospel, and Jacob decided that day to make Jesus the Lord of his life.  Since then, Jacob has gone through many trials, but was recently released from lock-up.  Since his release, our new Re-entry Coordinator, Mike Howard, has been connecting with him nearly every day.  Jacob is actively seeking Mike's guidance in learning the Scriptures and listening to sermons.  With this new sense of life and hope, Jacob is able to joyfully focus on his faith and his future!

In the midst of these trying times, with rampant illness and economic struggle, we hope Jacob's story brings you encouragement in knowing we serve a God who loves and knows us each by name!

Josiah's Story

Josiah has attended Nordonia Campus Life for a number of years.  This past Summer, he attended Youth For Christ Summer Camp for the first time...and it forever changed his life.  After the Gospel was shared one night, Josiah’s cabin leader asked him if he was willing to have a conversation over ice cream.  During this conversation, Josiah expressed to his leader that he was ready to start a relationship with Christ.  Excitedly, his leader walked him through some first steps.  One challenge he issued was for Josiah to read the Book of John.  Less than one month later, Josiah’s leader checked in with him at another Campus Life event, inquiring as to his progress on the Book of John.  Josiah let his leader know, “I finished it.”  His leader came to find out, in this month, Josiah finished, not only John, but the entire Bible.  Josiah’s next steps?  “To read it again.”  We praise God and celebrate with Josiah this incredible life transformation. 

A Second Father

Reggie started attending City Life as a freshman at Lincoln West High School when club was held at the Family Ministry Center.  Reggie and his friends would attend club and events as much as they possibly could. For Reggie, it was to escape his home life.  He grew up living with both parents with minimal resources so it was a struggle day to day for food, clean clothes, money, etc.  At the City Life Center is where Ronnie met Tim.  Tim is married with 2 kids and comes from a background of drug use and being incarcerated. He became a believer for Christ while incarcerated and has been on fire for the Lord since.  Tim got connected to City Life through a YFC Staff Member. He joined the City Life team when Reggie was a sophomore.  As City Life was training ministry leaders about authentic Christ-sharing relationships, they were given the assignment one night to interview a student doing the Star Student Survey. Tim happened to interview Reggie. Towards the end of the survey, questions about faith, heaven & hell are asked. And during that time, Tim led Reggie to Christ and Reggie accepted Jesus for the first time. Reggie graduated from Lincoln West in 2019. He works full time and still in strong connection with Tim.  Tim takes Reggie to and from work (like a second dad), to church, and to family hang outs like to the Car show, the IX Center, Indians games, etc.  Reggie is now a Leader in Training (LIT) for the City Life Center. Among many things, he helps on Tuesday nights with mentoring elementary teens with faith-based lessons. As he grows, he is sharing what he is learning.  Because of Tim being a stable person in Reggie’s life, his life is on track to break the poverty and struggle that his family faces.

Katie's Story

Katie started attending Independence Campus Life when she was in 5th grade.  At our annual Sports All-Nighter she heard the truth about Jesus for the first time.  After several meetings with her Campus Life leader, she finally made the decision to give her life to Christ.  Since that point, she has been involved in an ongoing girls' discipleship group and Bible study with Campus Life.  One week the group was discussing how living life with Christ meant living in a way that others could recognize the life-changing effect He has on them.  At that point, Katie chimed in and said how her mom commented on that recently, questioning why she had been so happy, kind, and "full of life" recently.  Katie said she told her mother all about the decision she made to follow Jesus and how it changed her life.  Katie said her mother looked at her and said, "I wish I could have something like that."  Katie immediately responded that her mom could have that and went on to share the Gospel with her.  We thank God for Katie and for the work He is doing in all the lives of the students we work with at Campus Life

Meet Norman

Norman Leonard began volunteering in Garfield Campus Life Middle School Club several years ago.  After developing so many strong relationships with the students in the area, he now runs a weekly basketball tournament for forty middle school and high school young men.  We are so grateful for our YFC champions like Norman who are daily bringing the Gospel Message to lost young people.

Bridget's Story

Bridget met Renita and Chuck, our Parma Campus Life staff, at Parma's high school club.  She then attended our YFC Sports All-Nighter last year, and it was there she learned about the love of Jesus Christ. After she accepted His free gift of salvation, she wanted to reach out to her friends, inviting them to Campus Life events, so they too could learn of Christ's love. She was given a Bible by a YFC staff member and now attends a Wednesday evening youth group at a local church to learn more about God’s Word.  Thank you for your support that helps students like Bridget, and her friends, find new lives in Christ!

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.