Jackson Free Press
: Jackson, Mississippi - Jacksonian - Vince Gordon
“Fast cars, fast motorcycles, fast women.” That’s how Vince Gordon
former lifestyle as a military policeman in Yokosuka, Japan.
Now 44, Gordon is the director of YoungLife Urban, the Jackson chapter of a national Christian youth group.
was drawn to YoungLife
for its “relational” approach, which emphasizes building relationships over handing out Bibles.
Often wearing fake teeth or a wig while addressing young people, Gordon
adheres to what he
calls a “3-L Philosophy”: “If you’re laughing while you’re learning, it’s gonna last.”
grew up in South Central Los Angeles, the eldest of three children.
stayed busy in high school with band and athletics, his
younger brother hung around the notorious Bloods gang.
was 16, his
mother moved the family to Jackson, and Gordon
enrolled at Lanier High School
“It was like my world came to an end, because there was nothing, nothing to do (in Jackson),” Gordon recalls.
struggled to find his
place at Lanier
, until the principal, recognizing his
dancing talent, bought a bulldog suit and made Gordon
the first human mascot in the district.
Gordon earned some minor recognition for his dancing skills with an appearance on the television show “Good Morning Mississippi.” Still, he was eager to join the Navy immediately after graduating in 1982.
worked on submarines for seven years before transferring to Japan for the last three years of his
In Japan, Gordon
became a born-again Christian and renounced the partying and drinking that had accompanied his
service up to that point.
returned to Jackson in 1992 with his
pregnant wife, Leila, and little else.
Nissan Fairlady Z sports car and Kawasaki 900 motorcycle for a minivan and worked at a Church’s Chicken and a gas station, before finding work with a job-training program for special-needs youth.
“These were kids who just needed a chance,” Gordon
“My job was to ensure that they did well once they got that chance.”
youthful side when showing off pictures of his
car collection: a Corvette, a PT Cruiser and a custom-fitted, 1992 Toyota low-rider truck with hydraulics.
house and sizeable garage sit across the street from Lanier
can give students visual evidence that success is possible in Jackson.
cars provide another lesson, too.
Even as he
acquires toys he
once had to give up, Gordon
has given away three cars to needy families.
“It’s the principle of reaping and sowing,” Gordon
says, “giving away to get.
posted by on 10/22/08 at 03:45 PM. [printer-friendly version]
works very hard to help those in his
community, and not just the kids at Lanier
, but students throughout the metro area.
KUDOs to Vince
Thanks for recognizing his
commitment to his
community and his
passion to help.