Aug 23, 2019

Passing of Renee Young

Yesterday we lost Renee Young, a friend and ministry partner of many years. Here is a note about her passing from her close friend and long-time EFCA staff member Dan Reeve:

Renee has been battling a 21-year war with cancer.  A few weeks ago, following a scan, she was advised to go into hospice.

On Friday, her 56th birthday, a few friends gathered to celebrate with her and tell “Renee Stories.”  Within a few days, she became weaker and weaker and, I am very sorry to tell you that though she fought the good fight, she went home to be with her Lord this morning.

Renee has been a fighter all of her life, advocating for those who have no voice, discipling people for Christ, and speaking out against injustice while fighting for her life.  Last year, God gave her an amazing reprieve through a trial treatment that beat back the tumors and actually gave her the strength to return to work at Immigrant Hope and to even travel, twice, to Europe.  When the treatment stopped working this past winter, the tumors became very aggressive.

Renee was a great friend, partner in ministry, peer, leader and woman of God.  As her friend I want to thank you for partnering with Renee these many years.

There will be two memorial services held in the very near future, one in Brooklyn, and one in Minneapolis.

The best way to honor our friend is to remember her example of service and imitate her to often-marginalized people who need the Lord.

May the God of all comfort give you peace and even a little smile as you remember Renee.

Renee served as an urban missionary with the Evangelical Free Church of America for decades, in Denver, Washington DC and Brooklyn. Her passion was always for the poor and victimized and she spent her life and career working to help the church see them.

I met Renee as a child, when my parents’ church supported her as a missionary. When Sarah and I moved to Brooklyn to start Immigrant Hope, we attended attended First Free together. Some reorganization at the EFCA put her on our Immigrant Mission staff team. She was part of our close circle of friends in our first years of marriage and as our first child was born.

When we left Immigrant Hope – Brooklyn to come to Minneapolis, Renee stepped in as office manager and legal counselor. She served there faithfully for six years, through financial instability and constant health struggles. During that time she worked directly with nearly 150 clients on nineteen different types of immigration cases.

Renee was often a prickly person, a wounded person. Her presence in polite church society created discomfort, for herself and others. She felt deeply the injustices she saw around her and the church’s apathy or complicity in them. She spoke out and was often marginalized and alienated herself. But she remained a constant presence with communities and ministries whose trendiness has grown and faded as political, social and theological trends change. She remained a constant presence in a church she loved and believed in, despite its flaws. The way she lived and worked took singular courage and calling.

We need people like Renee. I pray that others will take up the mantle that she has finally been allowed to lay down.