The Youth Program and Doris’ Efforts

It was just the other day when I found Doris in her “craft office” sorting through stuff from days gone by. That included scarves. Those scarves were something like what might be used here by the Scouts. They were part of the Christian Youth Crusaders–CYC youth program she led in Brazil. In this case they were being thrown away, tossed into the garbage. Out of curiosity I picked them up. Yes, I know old stuff from 60 years ago has to go; yet it seems memories are being destroyed. That’s the stuff of nostalgia; it’s the stuff of our lives.

All over one scarf hearts are traced out with notes in them, written in Portuguese by CYCers. I’ll translate a few though you might suppose they were not for her for they spelled her name differently. “Dorys I love you. The Lord is my shepherd and I will lack nothing. Debora.” “May God bless you and may it continue on that way. Linda, Simpatica and Graciosas.” Then there is a similar one repeated a number of times, “Dorys, many thanks for bringing CYC to the church in Brazil. Cida Farias.”

Then on another scarf there are the signatures of a number of directors that goes back to Doris’ training the first leaders. Some of those names are from the first CYC training camp that Doris organized. Those leaders began the program in their local churches and from there it spread.

Let me tell you how it began. When we moved into the city of Sao Paulo it was to the home that a missionary couple, the Ryckmans, had rented. There Doris discovered in her rummaging some of the North American CYC program that Evelyn had translated into Portuguese. Since Doris saw the need of a youth program she continued the translation with adaptations. Then she typed, without ever having the advantage of a typing lesson, the program on A.B. Dick stencils—tedious work. She then ran them off on the copier. If you’ve never worked with one of those obstinate machines you might not know that it was always a messy job. A person had to work with those gooey tubes of black ink. At the same time she sent churches a description of the program and they began picking it up.

She started the first CYC  in our Vila Galvao church, a church that began in a back yard growing to a full-fledged building and congregation. The youth program attracted that a good number of that age group. From there the program spread and when we left, another Doris this time a Thompson gave it leadership. Then in 2003 the CYC directors invited the Kenny lady to Brazil to be the guest speaker at a convocation of CYC groups. They were celebrating their 60th anniversary. On that day groups came from all across the city of Sao Paulo and area.

I sat in the congregation as children and youth from many groups repeated in exact unison their vows and scripture. What a thrill. When Doris rose to speak, she abandoned her notes in Portuguese and simply talked to the perhaps 800 present. To leave one’s notes in any language is difficult but she did a great job. I was surprised and proud of her at that moment—more than you can imagine.

A child in Sao Paulo a few years ago had found out my name. She came up and asked, “Are you a Kenny that is related to Doris. She is the lady who started CYC here in Brazil.” It is interesting that many know who Doris is, but have no idea who I am. That may be humbling but for me it is really a great source of pride.

I wonder just what help this program has given to youth all across the church. Did it give to some the sense that leaders cared for them and so encouraged them to make something out of their lives? Imagination could weave many a marvelous story of those who started out in a new direction in life because of CYC. In any case I know a story told to me by a lady. It happened in a little church and could have been repeated many times in the youth clubs.

A little boy came to the church but would not leave the director’s side to be part of his class. But she had patience with him so over the years he gained confidence enough to graduate from High School and join the army. Later when he had become a commissioned officer he returned to visit the lady who had been so kind. He told her of meeting his mother and a brother who lived in squalor. She tried to make ends meet through prostitution. The church youth program had lifted him from that home and changed his life.

I don’t recall all the details of that story nor can I go back to get it straight from the lady I mentioned for she has gone on to her eternal reward. The day I hugged her for the last time it was not just for her kindnesses to us but her love given to all the children whose lives she touched. And I add this: I imagine the youth program that Doris began helped many such children and youth. No doubt those scarves I discovered being thrown out would have many such stories woven into their triangular folds.


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