I was first introduced to YoungLife (YL) when I was a freshman in high school. I was a very legalistic Christian. The type you don’t want to be friends with or be around. My friend Myka B took me to my first YL Club. It wasn’t for me.
Flash forward to 2001, I decided to go through leader training at my local YL Area in Missouri. Now, if I’m being honest, leading YL was what all the “cool” Christians were doing. I signed up with the wrong intentions. Little did I know where the next 18 years of volunteering with YL would take me! Little did I know how much Jesus would change my heart, humble me, and give me so many good things by leading YL and following Him.
I’ve had the honor of leading in Southeast Missouri, Vail Valley, Arvada, and with the Emerging Leaders Development (ELD) program in Denver, CO. YL has given me so many opportunities like increasing my network of friends across the world, my life being challenged by high school students, seeing high school kids meet Jesus for the first time (I can’t’ even explain this moment at camp or at home!), and Jesus calling me out, calling me into deeper waters, blessing me, and constantly reminding me of His love through my relationships with my high school friends. I cannot even explain the community I have encountered by doing YL. Some of my YL relationships are so sacred I considered my community part of my family.
I’ll never forget during our first cabin time at Windy Gap in 2004. We had a cabin of about 10 girls from Jackson, MO. During cabin time, another leader asked the girls, “What is the difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone?” In my head, I didn’t really get the question-don’t forget I’m one of the three leaders in the cabin. Then, the one girl in the cabin, who DIDN’T go to church (not going to church was rare in Southeast Missouri) or know anything about God said, “Well, if you know about someone, you might know like their phone number or name, but if you know someone, you know their favorite ice cream or movie.” In that moment, me as a leader, realized for most of my life, I had known about God but had not dipped in enough to really know Him.
After my week at Windy Gap, I realized that instead of knowing the Bible, memorizing scripture, singing the songs, and reading up on theology, I didn’t trust or believe I was loved by the King of the Universe. Trust is difficult for me. I’ve been an independent person my entire life. I feel like I do most of my life on my own. Believing I’m loved for being me is something I will always struggle with in life. I assume it is because of the Fall and my carnality that longs to believe God but believing the enemy in the moment is so much easier and in the long run is killing me. I’ll keep fighting for me! I’ll keep fighting for my high school friends to trust me and know that I love them. I hope by feeling and experiencing trust and love from me, they will also trust and believe the love of Christ! I hope the trust and love I feel from those in my life, will help me trust and believe the love of Christ!
1 The Spirit of the Lord and King is on me. The Lord has anointed me to announce good news to poor people. He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts have been broken. He has sent me to announce freedom for those who have been captured. He wants me to set prisoners free from their dark cells. 2 He has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free. He wants me to announce the day when he will pay his enemies back. Our God has sent me to comfort all those who are sad. 3 He wants me to help those in Zion who are filled with sorrow. I will put beautiful crowns on their heads in place of ashes. I will anoint them with olive oil to give them joy instead of sorrow. I will give them a spirit of praise in place of a spirit of sadness. They will be like oak trees that are strong and straight. The Lord himself will plant them in the land. That will show how glorious he is.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIRV)