50kstrong

Building a Force of Capable Young Men

Advancing toward our gathering of 50,000 determined youth in 2018.

Photos by Marc Giannavola.


by Hunter Ferguson
NEW YORK

Last summer, I injured my Achilles tendon and my dog was killed in an accident. With no job or money, and unable to leave my house, I quickly became depressed. It was at this crucial time when two of my men’s leaders came to visit and study with me. I was so moved by their care and encouragement that I began chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo more than ever. I also participated in more SGI activities and recovered from my injury, exceeding my doctor’s expectations!

In January of this year, I became the young men’s leader for West Harlem Chapter. I was honored by the responsibility to fight for the young men in my neighborhood, so I reached out to all 80 young men’s division members! Some answered and some didn’t, while others told me they had stopped practicing. Although discouraged at times, SGI President Ikeda’s guidance gave me confidence that I was making tremendous causes for my life and kosen-rufu. In one encouragement, he emphasized not sparing our voices, because the voice does the Buddha’s work. Win victory without fail, he said.

I felt so much joy meeting the other young men in my chapter. One visit that deeply affected me was with a young man who was in the same condition as I was in last summer. Understanding exactly what he was going through, I directly connected with his life and encouraged him like my leaders did with me. Through caring for others, I was raising my own life condition! Then, I received a great benefit at the end of the month: a two-month job working for a network TV show!

In February, I was much busier with my new job and often lacked sleep, but I was determined that 15 young men would attend their district discussion meetings. One night, I stopped by a young man’s apartment to invite him to come to a discussion meeting with me. When I arrived, he was having an argument with his partner, but I still invited the two of them to come. They attended and said they were happy they went! This young man is now an important force in West Harlem Chapter. At the end of the month, I broke through my self-doubt and as a result, our chapter brought out 12 young men to discussion meetings. But we didn’t achieve our goal, so I determined to fight harder!

The following month, I was even more exhausted from work, and my life condition was low. It was at this time that I was asked to emcee a Champions of the New Era youth meeting. I read The New Human Revolution where Sensei writes, “Emcees must have the determination to bear full responsibility for the meeting and use their voices to transform the atmosphere into a place of joy in seeking the Law, a true Buddhist assembly” (vol. 25, p. 186). With this guidance, I made a bold determination to bring joy and happiness to President Ikeda, the members and all the guests at the meeting. My personal breakthrough led to the breakthrough of my chapter, which welcomed over 20 new households to the SGI by the end of March! And, in April, I visited 15 young men and encouraged each of them to subscribe to the SGI-USA publications and seek their own relationship with Sensei!

My leaders and I are 100 percent united in our determination to foster capable young men in West Harlem. I can always reach out to them for support! Toward our gathering of 50,000 youth, I am personally determined to unite with Sensei more than ever. This May, West Harlem Chapter will have 17 young men attend their discussion meetings, 25 young men attend the July Young Men’s Division General Meeting and 125 youth attend the 50,000 gathering in 2018!

 

(p. 10)