Popular Christian writer, speaker, and youth ministry leader Mike Yaconelli died early yesterday following an auto accident early the previous night. Yaconelli, 61, was cofounder of Youth Specialties, a ministry to youth and youth workers, and for over 40 years had ministered to thousands of people through extensive speaking engagements, and his many books and articles. Yaconelli was also a cofounder and longtime editor of the satire magazine The Door (formerly The Wittenburg Door), which sought to poke fun at evangelicalism while encouraging Christians in their faith.
Yaconelli was driving between Medford, Oregon, and his home in Yreka, California, in his father's truck when, for still unknown reasons, he veered off Interstate 5 and struck a light post. He and his wife, Karla, were helping his father move to Yreka. Yaconelli's father recently had surgery, and the family wanted to be closer to him. His wife and father were in a separate car several miles behind Yaconelli's truck.
Yaconelli was airlifted to Redding, California's head trauma unit, but reportedly died before he reached the hospital. He is survived by his wife, Karla, his father, five children, and four grandchildren.
Last year, Yaconelli wrote in his latest book, Messy Spirituality, "I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis.
"If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like 'He was a nice guy' or 'He was occasionally decent' or 'Mike wasn't as bad as a lot of people.' Unfortunately, ...1