I guess you could say I’ve always been a Young Life kid. Crazy to think how eight years ago the YL Area Director would show up to my house, have dinner with my family, and take us on golf outings...and now I'm doing the same things with my friends in high school who don’t know Christ. I'm a high school senior in Blacksburg, Virginia. I love the Lord. I love Young Life. And I have no doubt that chasing after lost high school and middle school kids is what the Lord wants me to be doing for the rest of my life.
I got to go to a YL club for the first time with my dad when I was in the fifth grade. We sat in the back and watched kids take off their socks and put them on a soda...and then drink out of it. I also witnessed kids eating chocolate out of a diaper. But now I know these things have such a bigger purpose. I remember Cory, the area director in Rapid City, South Dakota, telling my parents one time, “These kids love to party, smoke, and a lot of other things, but when they walk through those doors they will not be identified by those things. They will be identified as a child of God.”
Soon after 5th grade I moved to the little town of Blacksburg, VA and started going to Wyldlife. I met my leaders Laura and Abby, two girls unlike any I've ever met. They always wanted to hang out and were without fail always there for me. I live far away from campus and it continually amazed me how they were always to willing to come pick me up and take me home from any Wyldlife event or just to hang out. I eventually went to camp and realized that following Christ was what I was created to do. Even though camp was one of the most amazing weeks of my life, it was all the time that my Wyldlife leaders spent with me and living their life by example that taught me how to follow Christ in the real world.
Throughout Wyldlife there were three of us that were there every Friday night. Tyler, Tommy, and me. Every week we would show up and hang out and go crazy at club. Little did we know that because of Wyldlife we became best friends. Ever since Wyldlife we've been a team chasing after our friends to come to club, camp, church. But most importantly we chase after Christ together.
For all the Wyldlife leaders out there reading this: First of all, you are amazing. Chasing after middle school students is probably one of the most difficult things EVER. But I just want to tell you. I was one of those crazy middle school kids. When it feels like they don’t get it, don’t give up. Keep loving them, keep telling them about Christ. Because if it wasn’t for my Wyldlife leader I wouldn’t know who Christ was, and I surely wouldn’t know how to live my life for Him.
High school hasn’t always been a good time for me. My freshman year I got made fun of a lot because I was literally the energizer bunny of the school... and because of my faith. So eventually I got mad at Christ and thought why the heck am I going through all this pain if God loves me so much? So I stopped going to Young Life and Campaigners. Through this time in my life I was really mad and upset. But in my messy life, my Wyldlife leader Abby walked right back into it.
Even though I was now in high school she took the time every week to spend time with me. Also during this time two senior campaigner girls just loved me like a sister and hung out with me all the time. I eventually stopped being mad at God and started going back to club and campaigners. And then I got involved with a bible study called She-ville. She-ville was where my Young Life leader Becca and a girl in my math class named Hannah met every Sunday night and talked about life and Jesus. By the end of two months these two girls had become my best friends and we still meet every single week.
Without She-ville Hannah and I would have never become best friends and would have never realized how much our friends need to know Christ. So from then on high school wasn’t just about going to school. It was about being a light for Christ and showing those who don’t know Him how much He loves them, through our actions, our words, and our lifestyles. Junior year I started doing my own She-ville with ten sophomore girls. These girls became some of my closest friends and I love them so incredibly much. I love having the opportunity to walk through life with them every single day. Now as a senior, I realize that high school is not just about grades, parties, and boyfriends. It’s about Christ and living everyday for Him. It’s about chasing after my friends and loving them for who they are. It’s about Monday nights when I load my car up with a bunch of Freshman girls to go to club. High school is so much more than what society tells us it should be.
This summer at Rockbridge I did 3rd session work crew and met 30 kids that are now close friends. We are from Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Delaware, Scotland, and many other places. But in those few weeks I met folks I will walk with through life forever. I was surrounded by kids who love Christ and want to chase after Him as much as I do and everyday we got to serve kids who have no idea who Christ is. Although we are different ages, in different stages of life, and most of us did not know any one coming, we became a family. Because of work crew, we know that following Christ and serving people is what we are called to do. And even though we are far apart, we will do it together.
Because of my leaders, I know who Christ is. Because of Young Life, I get to bring my friends to club every Monday night so they can hear about Christ. Because of Young Life, I want to spend my time chasing after lost kids. I want to spend my time going to dark places and being a light. Because of Young Life, my life will never be the same.