The Joy of the Lord is My Strength: Calvary Chapel Believer Triumphs Through Tragedy
Story by Trinity Grau and Margot Bass
Photos by Pamela Barahana Carroll and courtesy of Jared Younger
This is Part 2 of a two-part story. To read Part 1, click here. Part 1 describes how Jared Younger learned of his father’s murder in a Jewish synagogue shooting on October 27, 2018, and how he shared the hope of Jesus at his father’s memorial. Today, Jared is an active member of Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, PA.
Jared Younger stood resolutely before the Jewish congregation gathered for his father’s funeral on October 31, 2018, sharing his hope in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior—the Messiah. His father, Irving Younger, had been one of 11 murdered in his synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, by a gunman just days before, October 27.
But the road to Jared’s boldness in Jesus’ name was a long one, taking him from growing up as Jewish to no longer believing in God before he accepted Jesus as his Savior at age 23. Now 33 years old, Jared is passionate about evangelism and is active at Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, PA.
“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Genesis 18:14a
Jared Younger, who attends Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, PA, mentors teenagers at the church’s Narrow Way summer discipleship program.
An Amazing, Loving Boldness
Among those attending Irving Younger’s funeral was Pastor Rick Morgan of The Source Church in Pittsburgh, a part of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) had sent out chaplains to attend the funerals of those killed in the tragedy to offer support and comfort to the predominantly Jewish mourners. CC South Pittsburgh Pastor Tim Green, also a BGEA chaplain, had attended another of the funerals that day. At the end of the evening, the chaplains met to debrief.
Pastor Tim recalled, “Rick wanted to tell the story. I’ll never forget the look on his face; his eyes were as big as silver dollars as he told us about this young man who stood and gave the Gospel at this Jewish funeral—and how you could hear a pin drop in the place. He said it was electric with the Holy Spirit and so impactful on him and others, like a modern-day example of what you’d see in the Bible.” Tim continued, “[Jared] boldly shared the Lord Jesus in a place where almost all denied Him. And they were Jared’s family and friends, the people he grew up with and knew. He showed loving boldness, going for it in the name of the Lord. What an encouragement and blessing it is to hear someone who’s obviously grieving—his father’s been murdered. But as he’s grieving, he’s making sure the Lord’s name is proclaimed.”
A New Life in Pittsburgh
Upon learning about this bold young man and that he had attended Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murietta, CA, Tim and another member of the church reached out to Jared. “I looked him up on Facebook and messaged him, telling him how much of an impact his funeral message had had on me, the chaplains, and the people who were there. From there, we just started messaging each other,” Tim said. It was the beginning of a strong friendship and deep bond. Jared visited CC South Pittsburgh regularly over the next year and a half and moved to Pittsburgh in June 2020, soon becoming active in the fellowship.
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1
“Jared really has a heart for evangelism—street evangelism, preaching to people. He used to live in Southern California and got saved following an encounter on the street,” Pastor Tim explained. During this summer’s Narrow Way teen discipleship program held at the church, Jared taught an evangelism training class. On Sundays, he is involved in the church’s corporate prayer time, known as Stay & Pray, held after the close of the morning services, and has led it in Tim’s absence. He also has taught at a home fellowship and men’s studies, helps with security for the women’s meetings, ministers to young adults, and has served in the church’s refugee ministry.
“Several months ago, Jared went with a couple of friends from the church to the streets of Squirrel Hill, the Jewish section of Pittsburgh where he grew up, to share the Gospel on the streets. You’ve got to realize that in the Jewish community, everybody knows who Jared Younger is—Irving Younger’s son,” Tim emphasized. “He has his struggles, just like we all do, but he’s just a [Holy] Spirit-filled, born-again, loving brother.”
Jared and his sister Jordanna in earlier days with his father, Irving Younger. Irving was one of 11 people killed when a gunman entered his Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27, 2018. The shooting has been called the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S. Jared shared his faith in Jesus Christ at his father’s memorial service.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Jared was born in Pittsburgh to Jewish parents. He never met his biological father, who left before Jared was born. When he was 18 months old, the courts, believing it to be in his best interests, took him away from his mother, despite her love for Jared. He was placed in foster care with the Youngers, also Jewish; they adopted him when he was 7 years old. He grew up in Squirrel Hill, a pocket of Pittsburgh filled with Jewish-Americans. Though his family was not very religious, they culturally practiced the Jewish faith.
Jared’s adoptive mother suffered from diabetes and would take out her pain on the children in the home, often being physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive, he reflected, although he knew that his parents still loved him. He would ponder, How could a loving God have allowed the suffering I’ve experienced growing up?
As Jared entered high school, the academic competition intrigued him. Many of the Jewish students were highly academic and liberal leaning, ideologically. “Education was my identity, as it was in the Jewish community,” he confirmed. When Jared was 19 years old, his mother passed away from end-stage renal disease; her kidneys failed. His home life, already difficult, fell apart. Jared’s father, Irving, had been a real estate broker; he lost all four of his investment properties with the medical bills accrued from his late wife’s treatment.
Now Jared was determined to create a name for himself in Hollywood as a screenwriter. After writing a screenplay, he moved west to California. He started working for a nonprofit company, often recruiting people from the street to join whatever cause he was asked to sell. It was here that the Lord would find him and change his life forever.
Police respond to the synagogue shooting in 2018. Photo courtesy of PBS.
Jesus, the Greatest Gift
While working in Santa Monica, he met a couple, Alan and Lisa Gluck, who gave him the greatest pitch ever—they “advertised” the greatest gift he could receive: Jesus Christ. “It was their big smiles that got me. When I learned that she had the same exact condition my mom had, diabetic kidney failure, the conversation exploded; five minutes turned into 30 minutes, 30 to an hour and a half. The next thing I know, they invited me to their beach house in Oxnard.”
Jared continued, “I spent a lot of time there. I could see the difference between a woman who had kidney failure and had a relationship with the Lord, and a woman who didn’t.” Despite having put up walls concerning Jesus, he still had questions. “They were sharing Jesus with me, but I wasn’t really sure about how I felt about Him,” Jared admitted. The Glucks continued to love Jared, and he began to believe in God the Father—and ultimately in Jesus Christ as his Savior at 23 years old.
Jared recalled, “The first time I opened the Bible, I said, God, if this book is real, prove it to me. I looked down and the first thing I saw was my name, Jared. He called me by name!”
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6
With a new world opened up to him, Jared made the decision to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murietta, CA. It was a complete culture shock for him at this new college. “The Lord had to get a lot of Hollywood out of me,” he admitted. Despite his challenges as a new believer, he loved the Lord, and he loved the school. It was there that Jared met Patrick McMullen, a young man who died after playing basketball with him. Jared was able to comfort Patrick’s mother, Melisa. Years later, Melisa would comfort him when his father was killed. While in California, he attended Calvary Chapel Living Hope in Oceanside.
Jared relaxes outside CC South Pittsburgh. He is passionate about sharing Jesus with anyone who will listen, including the Jewish neighbors he grew up with.
“Lord, Redeem it All!”
As Jared looks back on his path to faith in Jesus Christ and the heartbreaking loss of his father, he is grateful that he has had the opportunity to share the Gospel and breathe out the love of God. He recalled praying, desperately, at the news of his father’s death, Lord, redeem it all! and believes he is experiencing that redemption daily.
“It’s been a testimony of suffering, but the joy of the Lord is my strength,” Jared concluded.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
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