What a legacy!
11/11/03

Numb. That’s what you feel when the first bit of news you get early one morning is the last thing you could ever imagine would cross your mind. I was in full stride going through our office when a voice called out, “Hey Walt! I just opened an email here that says Mike Yaconelli was killed in a car accident last night.” Numb. Sadly, that’s what those without hope continue to feel. The only thing that came to my mind were the hopeful and reassuring words our pastor says every time a Saint from our congregation moves on from this life. ... “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” What great joy is ours!

I had just seen Mike three days before at the convention in Charlotte. He was moving with determination and purpose (as he always did when I saw him) from place to place, doing that which he had devoted his life to. ... serving the King by serving youthworkers. Still, he would stop and chat with anyone and everyone who wanted to offer a simple “hello” or “thanks.” Others would stop him just to “get a piece of him.” In a youth ministry world full of big egos, that’s refreshing.

Later that day, when I emailed Mark Oestricher, I told Mark that even though Mike would never darken the door of the YS office again, his legacy and his work would live on. That’s something that no death could steal or stop. It’s also a sign that the guy did his job the right way. Together with Wayne, Mike started a revolution. The revolution has left a legacy that I believe touches anyone, anywhere doing youth ministry. I had never stopped to think about it until that morning when I was feeling numb. But as I pondered the direct effect of Mike Yaconelli and his work on my life and ministry, the impact has been great. Sure, he rubbed some people the wrong way. But the church needs people like that. To me, there are three things that stand out about Mike Yaconelli - he loved Jesus, he loved youth workers, and he loved kids. I trust God in His great grace will allow all of us to pursue those same passions. What a great legacy to leave. Thanks and Glory to God for sharing Mike with us.

Walt Mueller
President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding