Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Take the Young Stranger by the Hand

The title of my book, Take the Young Stranger by the Hand, is actually a paraphrase from the 1851 constitution of the Boston Young Men's Christian Association, the first YMCA founded in the United States.

Here is the full quote, as it appears in C. Howard Hopkins' History of the YMCA in North America (1951, p. 18):

[The YMCA should be] a social organization of those in whom the love of Christ has produced love to men; who shall meet the young stranger as he enters our city, take him by the hand, direct him to a boarding house where he may find a quiet home pervaded with Christian influences, introduce him to the Church and Sabbath School, bring him to the Rooms of the Association, and in every way throw around him good influences, so that he may feel that he is not a stranger, but that noble and Christian spirits care for his soul.

This mission to mobilize Christian men to care for the souls of other men, to guide them toward "good influences," is what fascinated me about the early YMCA, and drew me to research and tell its history.

In a sense, this has become my personal mission.

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