Tears don’t come easy amongst New York city’s urban youth.
Yet for one student, along with an auditorium packed full of high schoolers, hearing the testimony of actress April Lee Hernandez was emotionally touching.
“What she said hit me to the point that [I] was about to cry,” said the student.
April, the star of the movie Freedom Writers, who has also had appearances on shows like ER, 30 Rock and Law and Order, has a dramatic story of God’s direction in her life.
She hails from the Bronx and said she had a lot going for her at a young age. April’s parents loved her and grounded her in biblical values. Yet at age 16 she became wrapped up in an abusive relationship she couldn’t get out of. Shame and fear kept her trapped for 3 years. Even after escaping the abusive relationship and coming to Christ, she had a long road ahead of her.
Her acting career seemed to dry up. Being interviewed on CBN, she said of her desert experience, “If I were to lick glass I couldn’t land an acting job.”
But God used that time to realign her to His greater purpose.
When she came home to NYC, she was determined to give back to the city. She now brings a blend of humor as she shares her faith with high schoolers through motivational speaking.
Moses Sanchez, who works with the high school ministry of Cru, loves what these events mean to each high school student. The tears he observed spoke volumes, “This kid was kind of on the fringes and now has really been connected with our ministry as a result of bringing in a speaker. So that’s really the goal. He’s still in process but that’s the hope, the aspiration, the dreams we want to give students.”
40 students came because of Moses’ ministry with Cru, and 10 indicated they wanted to learn more about Christ.
Event organizer Danny Sanabria says, “I want you to write this down for your readers: Cru is impacting our city with visional people and I’m so impressed by it.”
For NYers reaching NYers, Danny and Moses are convinced follow up and discipleship is key. It’s why Danny found April, as she’s local, and it’s why they’re setting up an infrastructure that will consistently affect the urban youth of NY.
Find out more about the high school ministry of Cru.
And just for fun, watch April’s acting debut in a Yao Ming commercial.
Do you have a heart for reaching inner city teens with the gospel? This ministry to middle and high schoolers reaches far beyond the school building into the families and communities they surround. Could God be calling you to join them?
The Urban Immersion Internship is a 1 to 2 year experience doing urban ministry with the high school ministry of Cru. We launch spiritual movements on high school campuses with a focus on the inner city school system.
Amber Johnson, at 18, wants people to know the value of entering into someone else’s pain, the way that Jesus did with us. She shares her experience with an injured child in the Philippines while on a Cru high school missions trip.
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