“You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take rest in safety.”
Dozens of tornadoes ripped through the southern states of Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama on the 27th April, destroying homes and businesses and killing 248 residents.
Among the hardest hit areas was Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a city of 90,000 residents that was devastated by what is estimated to be the most violent storm in Alabama’s history. Home to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa residents suffered tremendous losses following the wake of the F5 tornado that ripped through their city.
The F5 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, ripped through the poorest parts of the community, and has left 15,000 people homeless and has destroyed 5,000 homes.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox told local and national media that the F5 tornado left behind “utter destruction,” and added that:“We have neighbourhoods that have basically been removed from the map.”
Two of the communities that suffered the greatest impact from the F5 tornado are areas that have been served by Youth for Christ for 40 years.
With two ministries serving the community – Campus Life and Teen Moms — Youth for Christ regularly works with 600 to 700 middle school and high school students; and because of our ongoing efforts in the community, we are able to help Tuscaloosa families’ long-term needs following the aftermath.
Leslie, a Tuscaloosa resident and teen mom who is helped by Youth for Christ, ran to the store to pick up a few things she and her family needed on April 27, the day the F5 hit her community. She left her children with her mom and jumped in her car as she had a hundred times before, not knowing that this would be the last time she would see her 2-year-old daughter and 11-month-old infant.
After the deadly F5 tornado ripped through Leslie’s neighborhood, every home was destroyed. When Leslie returned, nothing was recognizable. She found her mom seriously injured and the children nowhere to be found. Later, she received the tragic news that neither survived.
“I only went to the store for five minutes” she told her Youth for Christ’s Teen Mom’s director. In five tragic minutes, Leslie’s life had changed.
Leslie’s mother has been in ICU for the past two weeks, and we thought at one point she wasn’t going to survive. Thankfully, her condition has improved, but the doctors’ fear that she might have significant brain damage. Youth for Christ staff continue to reach out to Leslie and other teen moms who lost everything in the storm. Seventeen of our young mothers had their homes completely destroyed.
Youth for Christ not only works to meet the immediate needs of Tuscaloosa’s children and students by providing food, water, clothes, and shelter; but Youth for Christ also meets their long-term spiritual and emotional needs by providing counselling to students and children who are coping with their loss. Their tragedy isn’t limited to the loss of their homes, which is why Youth for Christ is equally concerned about sharing the Gospel to provide comfort and stability following this tragedy.
The F5 tornado destroyed one sixth of Tuscaloosa’s residential homes, and cut a 6 mile path, half a mile wide, through the city, leaving significant damage behind for the tens of thousands of Tuscaloosa residents who continue to sort through the few possessions they have left.
We need your help to ensure that we can continue to meet the needs of Tuscaloosa’s residents, and to make sure that Youth for Christ’s short and long-term mission goals are met.
There are many national relief agencies in Tuscaloosa, but those agencies will leave in just a few weeks, which is why your contribution to Youth for Christ is so important, because we live and work in Tuscaloosa, and we will remain here to continue our ministry.
Your donation to Youth for Christ will enable us to offer long-term sustained relief and emotional and spiritual support for Tuscaloosa residents. Without your donation we won’t be able to provide for residents long-term needs.
Students have lost their homes, friends and family members, and many have lost their livelihood. For Youth for Christ’s long-term relief ministries to continue, your donation is vital.
Providing relief isn’t just about meeting people’s immediate, temporary needs. Many relief agencies efforts end after they find temporary shelter for displaced residents and provide a few meals; but Youth for Christ ministries focus on long-term solutions to help those affected by tragedy by providing for their short and long-term needs.
As young children and students struggle to cope with the loss of their family members and homes, Youth for Christ continues to provide emotional and spiritual counseling.
Youth for Christ ministries are located throughout the nation and around the world. When tragedy strikes, we have volunteers on site because we live in the communities that we serve.
Through our ongoing ministries in Tuscaloosa, we formed a strong bond with the families that have been devastated by the aftermath of the F5 tornado. After other relief agencies have left, Youth for Christ will remain and continue to provide for the emotional and spiritual needs of those affected by this tragedy.
Many of the teen mothers that have benefitted from the support provided by the Youth for Christ Teen Mom program have said that experiencing the F5 tornado was like “witnessing evil in the air,” but that having the emotional and spiritual support of Youth for Christ staff has helped them and their families cope with the personal losses and the community’s struggle.
“I just wanted to send you a message to say thanks for everything. I am so thankful for you. You always go out of your way for us, and I want you to know I really appreciate it. We are so blessed to have you in our lives.”
Support Youth for Christ because this is our home, this is our community, these are our neighbors.
Youth for Christ is in the middle of relief efforts in Tuscaloosa, and we have been here since day one of the tragedy, because our staff and volunteers are local.
Youth for Christ is on the ground right now, providing care and compassion to the victims. We need your continued support, because there is still much to be done.
When all the other humanitarian organizations have left, Youth for Christ will continue to work and serve the affected communities in Tuscaloosa to bring comfort and aide to all who continue to be impacted by this disaster.
Our model is simple-to bring the message of Jesus to others through the energy, passion and creativity of young people-and as a result, to change the world for the better. Our ministry creates leaders, and they create leaders, and so on, exponentially.
Youth for Christ is helping Tuscaloosa residents transform their lives following the devastating aftermath left by the F5 tornado that ripped through the city and residents’ shattered lives. Youth for Christ has served Tuscaloosa residents for 40 years, and continues to help the neighborhoods that have the highest percentage of teen mothers — areas that suffered tragic losses from the tornado. With two strong ministries and an established bond with Tuscaloosa residents, Youth for Christ will continue to serve residents’ emotional and spiritual needs long after other relief agencies have left.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? I John 3:17
When the F5 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Youth for Christ staff and volunteers were there. They are still there today, and they will remain there, rebuilding their lives, their missions, and the lives of those so tragically affected.
Please help Youth for Christ’s Tuscaloosa relief efforts. God bless you.
David Wraight, President