In 1965, the war in Vietnam was escalating, the space race was in full swing, the Rolling Stones were on a world tour, the bravery of those who marched to Selma led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and the St. Louis Arch was completed. The United States occupied the Dominican Republic, Malcolm X was assassinated, NASA’s Mariner 4 flew by Mars, race riots erupted in Watts, California, and Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston.
Wow! So much happened in 1965, both globally and locally. And much, much more has happened since then. Looking back at the last 50 years I am in awe of the diverse, dynamic, and broken world in which we live…but what’s funny is that kids are not really that different now – they are still in desperate need of Jesus. Kids still want to be known, loved, and heard. And we, as an organization, do the EXACT same thing we did 50 years ago: meet kids where they are at, love them for who they are, and point to the hope that is in Jesus. In an ever-changing and fast-paced world, we have the joy of telling kids of the constant, real love of Jesus.
As we plan, pray and prepare for our 50 Years of Young Life in St. Louis, we are reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness the last half century. We are reminded of the Lord’s goodness the last 50 years. We are reminded of just how many times he has shown up in big, big ways in kids’ lives in St. Louis. Kids have been transformed because of Him. Eternities have been altered. Please join us in rejoicing in all the lives touched since 1965!
One of the things about working with teenagers is that we get to watch them come in as a freshmen and walk out a senior. While in a way it’s a short time, it is also an incredibly important and sometimes volatile time. Kids start asking, in a conscious way, “Do I matter?” “What am I about?” “Am I loved?” “What difference does it make?”
Carl Jung said, “The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t have an answer, the world will tell you.”
We want kids to get that answer from God, not the world. That is why we go to them to both show and tell them that they are loved. Not only that, but to let them know that Jesus has answered the question.
There are kids who will walk across the stage this month with those questions answered by Him because Young Life leaders showed up.
But there are thousands more who will walk across the stage who have never had a Christian adult share with them the story. They’ll enter the next phase of life not having heard. If that bothers you – join us. We won’t stop going.
Have you ever thought about why God created food? I mean, he could have just made sunlight our source of energy…or water. God specifically chose food to be our fuel. Nothing is accidental for our sovereign Lord. So, this begs the question: why?
There are 3 simple reasons I’ve come up with:
- God is beautiful, full of life, and rich in every way and food is just a reflection of His colorful and rich character.
- God has graciously and carefully chosen something for us to take pleasure in – three times a day! That’s three prayers; three times to be thankful, praiseworthy, and delight in a Lord that delights in meeting EVERY ONE of our needs.
- When we eat, we gather around a table, around a box, and in the homes of friends. God meets us in these times and craves for us to be in community with each other…whether around a book or around a big plate of pad thai.
So much of what we do in Young Life is centered around food. We have food with our teams before Club, late night ice cream runs with kids, before-school breakfast Bible studies with Campaigners, and early-morning donut deliveries (pictured above). These instances and the shared experiences we have with our high school friends allows us to point to the above 3 traits: God is beautiful, God graciously meets our needs, and God calls us to community.
Thanks for helping us gather with kids and tell them about a God that calls them to life to the full.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28 (ESV)
Our high school friends in St. Louis are a fun, diverse group. God intends to have a people not just from white or black or red or yellow ethnic groups but from all ethnic groups–all shades and all shapes. God designed, aimed, purposed to have a people that is very diverse. God intends for these people to be in profound, God-centered harmony. Sometimes Young Life Club is the perfect representation of that harmony: we laugh together, sing alongside one another, play pool together, and sit on the rug next to one another and hear about the God of the universe who cares deeply for us, who fights for justice everywhere, and who restores brokenness.
We are blessed to have a diverse ministry. We are blessed to have a King who loves every single kid. It is our prayer that our high school friends all around St. Louis can hear that we are all ONE in Christ Jesus.
One the of the hallmarks of Young Life is what we call Contact Work. This is the idea that we go to where kids are. We don’t typically build buildings or count on events to build relationships with kids. Instead we go where they are, be it the game, after school, at work, or the coffee shop.
We do this for two main reasons. We do it because it’s effective. When we build relationships with kids they are more likely to take what we say seriously. Besides the truth is, that we want to be there when it counts, and you never know when that will be. So it’s better just to be there to begin with.
But perhaps the main reason we do it is that we believe it demonstrates Jesus to kids. Most religions are about us getting to God. Christianity, at it’s core, is about God coming to us. Jesus didn’t stay in His comfort zone. He left that to come after us. We want kids to see us do that for them. We want them to know that they are worth coming after, worth spending time with, worth showing up for. We think they’re worth it, and so does Jesus.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Our volunteer leaders are rockstars. Being a leader requires a wide range of skills, vision casting, maturity, and substantial amounts of time. Young Life demands a lot of its volunteers and, in fact, we tend to think of them not as volunteers but as “ministers.”
These pictured (and many more) ministers are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight – they take time, patience, trust and consistency. So, our ministers log many hours with kids – where they are, as they are. They listen to kids’ stories and learn what’s important to them because we genuinely care about their joys, triumphs, heartache and setbacks.
We are SO encouraged by one another as we eat together, laugh together, and pray alongside one another. Please join us as we stir up one another to love and good works as we celebrate our rockstars.
Pictured are just a few of our kids who are going through 2nd Timer Training, where they are learning how to serve, love and pursue their friends for Christ within the context of Camp.
So far, our winter has been filled with laughter and joy! As club gets back into full swing this week, we are excited to see what incredible things our great God has in store for Young Life in St. Louis County schools. The options are endless and we wait expectantly to see what seas God will part this semester. As always, thank you for your support and prayers as leaders continue to head into the lives of our high school friends, to live life with them, and to love them. Thank you for giving the gift of eternity!