NEW YORK, NY — September 10, 2015 — After growing up in the Bronx and living a life of gangs, drugs and crime, Frank Reynoso returned to the streets of New York this week where he was recently named FCA’s Regional Inner City Coordinator.
For the past nine years, Reynoso has served as FCA’s Central Florida Urban Director, and has been a critical part of FCA’s team supporting the establishment of FCA in New York City. In his new role, he will oversee New York City’s five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan.
Reynoso is excited about his new role in his hometown. “My ministry has been about sharing with young people the pain and the destruction that I went through as a young man in the city. Even though the city is a better place to live now than it was when I was a kid, it’s still a big city where people get lost and they need the love of God.
“We spent the last few years spying the land and seeing what we can do here in New York City. We are confident that we can get something going here, and that FCA can be here in New York City, finally — where it should be,” Reynoso said.
Reynoso has been pounding the New York City pavement since his arrival last week: “Last Wednesday after I landed I travelled from the top of the Bronx down to the bottom of Staten Island in one day.” He has been working to identify key churches in the boroughs, such as Christ Tabernacle in Queens and the Brooklyn Tabernacle, that are solid churches he can work through and unite to grow the FCA ministry.
“In Co-op City, which is located in the Baychester area of the Bronx, there are over 50,000 people in a mile radius, and there are 22 Christian churches in the vicinity. One of the things that FCA will be successful in is in uniting some of those churches for the cause of reaching the general population. If you’re dealing with that amount of people in a small area, the storefront church can get lost. FCA can be one of those uniting factors that can really make a difference,” Reynoso said.
Working in urban centers is nothing new to Reynoso, who has spent the past twenty-three years in Florida working in Orlando and Miami’s inner city jail ministries, juvenile detention centers and in his roles as pastor and youth pastor.
“I am going to look to identify the roughest schools, the roughest areas to work through. In Orlando, 85% of the crimes were committed by kids from the same three school districts. My job is to train FCA staff how to do inner city work and to eventually make NYC a model for inner city ministry. The goal is to one day have summits and gatherings here so people can come to New York to see how we do urban ministry.
“My initial goal is to get 5 ‘works’ in every borough. Right now, I’m working with Fordham University’s football team, and I will have six months of solid work with those guys – attending practices, having Bible Studies a few times a week. That’s one work in the Bronx.
“Then at SUNY Maritime I will do the same type of thing during their six month football season. During the other six months we will begin to look at the other sports, with a long term goal of being on that campus and doing all the sports year round,” Reynoso said.
As far as huddles, Reynoso has been identifying key staff members and students who are getting ready to kick off huddles – two in Brooklyn, two in Manhattan, and four on Long Island. “Forming a campus huddle initially involves a two step process: first, finding a staff member or coach who is willing to sponsor it, and next, identifying a student who is willing to take a leadership role in organizing and leading the huddle,” Reynoso explains.
Reynoso has also begun to develop relationships with high schools in Mt. Vernon and in the Fordham Road area. One of the first huddles in the area began three years ago at Wagner College in Staten Island, which is still going strong, and meets weekly. Reynoso helps the students add structure to the meetings and with outreach opportunities.
During the next two years, Reynoso will work to secure an area director for New York City, as well as five area representatives, one for each of the boroughs. The area representatives will go to deeper levels on the campuses, including starting huddles, training staff and serving coaches.
Reynoso admits it’s been an emotional experience returning to the city. “I lived here for my first 22 years, not being a Christian. My salvation took place in Florida 23 years ago, and now here I am back in the land where I was raised not knowing Christ, half of my life later now proclaiming Christ.”
As he reflects on the irony of his current role with Fordham’s football team, where he often speaks at the pre-game and stands on their sidelines to offer support, he is reminded of the journey God has brought him on: “As a kid, walking to summer camp I’d pass by Fordham’s campus and ask my mother about it and she’d give me a little smack and say, ‘you know that’s not for you,’ and here I am, years later through Christ, serving this team. They even gave me one of their 2014 Patriot League championship rings as a thank you for my spiritual support.”