Crystal Wacker Knapp has lived and worked in one of New York’s toughest inner city for a number of years. Prior to that life-changing experience she’d been a children’s pastor. Since New York, she served in various capacities on several large church staffs. Most recently Crystal married David Knapp, a career missionary with New Tribes Mission. Together they make their home in Mesa, Arizona.
Summer of 2003…. I had been asked to speak for a women’s retreat at a church in the inner city where I’d worked for nine years. Many of these ladies were my friends from the ministry or on my route in East New York. I lived as they did in government housing.
They knew that I knew what it was like to hear gunshots in the night (or day), smell marijuana through the windows, sweep up coke vials on the sidewalks, stop up holes with steel wool in my apartment so rats couldn’t squeeze through, guard every belonging so that it wasn’t stolen, walk ‘on guard,’ outside constantly aware of who’s around, wear little to no jewelry so as to not attract an attack – as well as why brown water comes through the faucets in the summer. They may not have known that in one apartment the holes in the flooring were so big I could see through to the basement or that I had to wear a coat inside if I didn’t turn the oven on for warmth in the winter. They knew that I knew what it was like to live in an oppressive environment and pray to God for relief.
“Peace in the Home” was the subject given to me to speak about. I decided we would discuss peace in spiritual terms with practical application. The afternoon sessions revolved around seasonal decorating, cleaning and washing clothes.
The response by the women was amazing and immediate. They told me they went home and cleaned the bathroom; others began a total overhaul of their living environment. Something new was happening in old neighborhoods.
That’s when the idea of a magazine designed to encourage and empower women came to mind. Actually, I became ALIVE with the idea: A magazine with articles of spiritual encouragement and practical tips on any number of subjects. The possibilities were endless. I talked about it all the time. I can even recall how its name, Reach UP, came up in conversation.
I asked lots of questions and did my “due diligence” trying to figure out how to start a magazine.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough faith to see how God would help me do what He wanted done. I told the Lord I couldn’t do it; I wouldn’t do it. I went so far as to tell God in prayer in the summer of 2007 that He had better tell someone else to do it, because it needed to get done.
September 2007…. As I was exercising, I spun around and looked at my computer. INSTANTLY I knew how to start Reach UP magazine. It was a God moment. I quickly forgot about Tai Bo and sat down to write out a plan.
The first issue came out on my birthday, December 6, 2007. It’s hard to describe how excited I was. Every issue since that first one has almost been like my child.
Since the very beginning, God has blessed us with professional and passionate men and women who have given generously of their talents. We’ve become a team who loves to encourage women to reach up. Our writers have stories similar to mine of living or working in tough circumstances. They have lived it and overcome.
Reach UP is being read all over the U.S. and in some closed, oppressive nations throughout the world! God has dropped even more dreams in my heart working with the mission of Reach UP.
It’s such a joy and a delight to bring articles of encouragement to women everywhere, no matter their status or circumstances.
Crystal Wacker Knapp has a rich and varied background. Upon meeting, most people are surprised to learn that this 5’ gal lived and worked in one of New York’s toughest inner city for a number of years. Ministry seems to be in her DNA since she’s been in ministry all her life and has witnessed the worst and the best of life. Her earliest life-experience was living in a pastor’s home in Las Vegas, Nevada, a city known for gambling and prostitution and — many scarred lives. Right out of college she followed her dream to be a children’s pastor. It was in that arena she learned how to take difficult biblical passages and break them down so a child could learn and understand. Later she served on the staffs of several large churches. Most recently God fulfilled a dream and promise when she married David Knapp, a career missionary with New Tribes Mission. Together they make their home in Mesa, Arizona, and minister together whether for New Tribes Mission, or his non-profit, Grief Relief (David is twice widowed with 8 children and 28 grandchildren) or Reach UP Magazine. They frequently find time to visit both their sets of families.