Growing up, Hunter Young of July 2014 E Squad felt very alone.
It began by believing he needed to lie to be accepted, that telling the truth about personal brokenness or perceived imperfection made him weak. His heart silenced, a wall of secrets and lies separated him from everyone else in his life.
When financial trouble hit, Hunter stole food from a neighboring town to help support his family, which escalated to car radios and clothing. He built an impressive reputation for being fast, clever, and quick-witted in high pressure situations.
He became a man for hire.
At 17, Hunter was approached by an upper-level criminal in a local crime ring of Madras, Oregon. Recruited to a dangerous task promising further reward and responsibility in the future, it was an honor to which he couldn’t say no.
And almost cost him his life.
Having moved out of his home a few years earlier, Hunter spent his last year of high school living with a Quaker youth pastor, his wife, and another woman and her son. It was community living and he hated it at first. It was hard, it wasn’t his family, and there was nowhere to hide. When the people he lived with lovingly confronted him about his secret life, asking him to confess, he balked.
Hunter knew the lingo and culture of church. He gave his life to Christ when he was 13, believed in God, prayed to and worshipped Him, but wasn’t living out his faith. He “knew” confessing his sins would only have one result: rejection. Further abandonment. Disgust.
“I thought I was going to be kicked out. The complete opposite happened. They just loved me. They brought me towards God for healing from my past and present. They pushed me in a very good way to an insane relationship with the Lord.”
That year, Hunter heard about the World Race through a fellow church member and recent Race alumni, who spoke about her year on the field. But Hunter wasn’t interested for himself until he left Bible college and started looking into missions. Having lived in community ever since his senior year, transitioning into living with E Squad was familiar, but came with its own lessons.
“Even though I’ve lived in community for a while now, that doesn’t mean it gets easier. But when two people meet each others’ expectations and love on each other, then the rewards are so worth living this way.”
One of the many rewards Hunter has received through community living on the Race is realizing the value - and necessity - of his story. Believing from a young age that sharing his story made him weak, through the encouragement of his team Hunter has learned to be more bold with his testimony, speaking the wisdom God’s given him.
“Before the Race I was self-glorifying, selfish, dishonest, closed, full of fear, running from problems, and weak. But because of God I can take that all off the list. I still have my problems but He’s shown me how He can fix them. I’ve become open to critique, ready for growth, bold, strong through God, and a pursuer of Truth. I don’t know how else to explain it but I have grown.”
Having just completed month four of his race, Hunter spent the month of October in Arad, Romania, working with foster children and the homeless - two people groups close to his heart. He is continually amazed by the opportunities for him to share his story. Each time he does, it’s a reminder to him that true strength is living in the light for all to see.
Ask him about his story - he’s ready to share.
Hunter has found his voice.