Welcome to the FINAL DAY of HopeSpeaks: 30 Stories in 30 Days!  It’s been an incredible month of stories, testimonies, art, and culture, and we’ve been thrilled to bring it all to you.  You can see all the HopeSpeaks stories here!

The campaign might be done, but HopeWorks is just getting started.  The month of October will be a big month for us as we transition from stories into action.  We’ll be asking you to partner with us in many different ways, so be sure to check back and see what’s going on!

We leave you with Austin’s story, a beautiful call to commitment … and destiny … and hope!


By Austin Young:

His name is CJ, and he’s 5 years old.  He has moderate autism, and even though I saw him every week for months, I didn’t realize he knew my name.  He never said it, so I just kind of assumed.  I went home for the summer, but when I came back to Detroit this September, I found out he’d been asking for me the whole time.

I visit a local housing community with my church every week for tutoring and outreach, and CJ is one of the kids I work with. We actually pick him up and bring him to the program, but all summer he refused to come because “Austin” wasn’t there.  I’ve never been able to connect with special-needs children before, so it was cool to know that he’d missed me.  I’d missed him too.

In the 8 months I spent in Detroit, from last October to this past May, I saw a lot of what Detroit is known for – poverty, crime, unemployment, homelessness. But my time spent with people like CJ showed me that the city is so much more than the adjectives people on the outside know it by. Each person I met had a story: stories of struggle, stories of victory, and stories of hope. As I listened to each story, a new picture of Detroit was painted, from those who know it best.

I spent last year as a student in Detroit, at Xmin Academy.  I was a visitor, here for 8 months, and home for 4.  But no more.  As I start my second year with Xmin, I am now a permanent resident of this beautiful city that I have fallen in love with.  I don’t want to just invest 8 months into people like CJ and then go back to my suburban home for the summer.  I don’t want to repeat that cycle 2, maybe 3 times, and then be gone forever.  I want to invest in people for the long haul.  I want to see people grow over 3, 4, 5 continuous years.

Detroit doesn’t deny its struggles, but it doesn’t find its identity in them either. It longs for something more, and it works hard to reach it. Detroit believes in a brighter future and it’s pushed toward it by one thing: hope.  I want to be a part of that hope — the work that God is doing — and I want to see where it takes the city.

I am proud to be part of a city that longs for more and works to see it accomplished. After being gone for just one summer, I’ve seen gardens, art displays, and even things as simple as filled potholes as evidence of progress and glimpses of hope. This city is rising from the ashes, and we’re just getting started!

7 Responses to “Day 30: Just Getting Started”

  1. Awesome story Austin!!! I am SO excited that you now call Detroit home.
    You said it so well:
    “Detroit doesn’t deny its struggles, but it doesn’t find its identity in them either. It longs for something more, and it works hard to reach it.”

    Welcome home!!!

  2. I love this story! It is so amazing to personally witness the impact that you have on the little lives of CJ and other kids on a weekly basis!

    And you are right – The city is rising from its ashes, and we’re just getting started. Can’t wait to see all that God does in the lives of CJ, his family, and beyond!

  3. Glad to have you on board, Austin!

  4. Tom Fogarty says:

    To hear how God is working in and through your life in the city is awesome, Austin! I’m glad you’re in the city of Detroit.

  5. Mary Beth says:

    Hi Austin, I am so thrileed for you and C.J., and the other children. I am glad to see your excitement over Detroit, and I can understand why you now call it your home!!! Let God lead the way, sweetie! I will be praying for you. Love you!

  6. Wow Austin this so good- “I don’t want to repeat that cycle 2, maybe 3 times, and then be gone forever. I want to invest in people for the long haul”
    I agree whole heartily on this! It’s incredible when God starts breaking our heart for the people of Detroit and then calls us to invest in them, I could have never thought of it, but God knows exactly who I am called to!

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