Thursday, January 21, 2016

Camp Musician Of The Month: John Jackson

Our featured YL Camp Musician for the month of January is John Jackson. If you attended YL75 (or any of the last four staff conferences and three pre-conferences), or if you’ve spent any time over the last 15 years at Windy Gap, Southwind, SharpTop Cove, or Camp Buckner, you’ve likely met and been blessed by John’s gifts – gifts that he shares generously with Young Life.

John encountered Young Life in 1999 when Emily Huck, who was heading up urban ministry in Knoxville, invited him to help with music at club. It was an urban school with about 25 kids attending and John remembers singing “Fresh Prince” and “Parents Don't Understand.” But it was Emily’s invitation for John to attend a week at Windy Gap as an adult guest that John says, “changed his life.”

“Dennis Pete was leading music for the weekend and he heard that I was music director at a church in Knoxville. Dennis shows up in Knoxville at my choir practice pursuing me to do music with him for the summer of 1999.” Eventually Dennis moved north, and John started leading YL Urban music for camps in the south.

John has led music teams for YoungLives, WyldLife, and camps with Latino, urban and multicultural emphases. “I have been fortunate to lead music for some of the most diverse camps in Young Life,” he says. “Taking the Gospel through music, embracing culture and ethnicity is what I’d say Young Life has done for me as a musician. Music in Young Life, really breaks down walls and allows kids to hear the Gospel. I feel really blessed to lead music for Young Life camps.”

John has shared his musical gifts with Young Life and he’s shared his family as well. His wife, April, has been on staff with Young Life since 2000. She also leads YoungLives in their area. The Jacksons have two children, Jahson, a sophomore in high school, and Jalan, a junior at King University where she serves as a leader.

John also loves arranging music for Young Life -- taking folk or guitar-driven songs and arranging them to appeal to kids who've grown up in more diverse backgrounds. Take a look at his many arrangements on John’s YouTube channel and enjoy this Young Life treasure:

What other Area Directors are saying about John:

I have had the privilege of serving at camp with John Jackson for several summers. Every year as we're planning for camp staff eagerly ask, "Do we have John Jackson?!?" and if you've ever been around him you know why! John has an amazing gift of leading others with great energy. If you were at YL75 you experienced this when he led us in worship one afternoon. He's a talented musician and I've seen him transform a room of disinterested kids over and over again to enthusiastically doing hand motions and singing at the top of their lungs having the time of their lives. We've also had John lead worship for staff and volunteers -- what a gift John is to the mission of Young Life! -Lisa Fiedler, YoungLives Southern Division Coordinator

John has the an incredible range of connecting with 'every kid', but he has such a heart for Worship that when I was asked to serve on the YL75 Planning Team and Worship Experience, John was my first and only choice. He was then asked to lead a General Session at YL75 leading worship. John has a heart to serve people, but a strong desire to teach, train and serve a 'budding' YLleader who has a desire to lead music and serve kids in the area of praise and worship that they can fully connect with as they are connecting with Jesus in a deeper way. John has been a gift to the ministry of YoungLife and to kids EVERYWHERE that will forever be changed by his ministry of connecting through music, his humility and his LOVE for Jesus! - Veronica Tutaj, YoungLives Regional Coordinator/MC/U Ministry

John Jackson can not be contained in a few words.  Much like his uncanny amount of joy and energy cannot be contained either. When I first met John over 15 years ago I had no idea what a treasure we were uncovering.  His natural love for music, for kids, and for Christ allowed him to instantly understand the mission of Young Life.  His heart to serve led him to jump right in wherever there was a need. John has a unique ability to draw in any type of kid.  He truly embodies our mission to reach every kid, every where with the abundant life Christ offers.  He has been one of the pioneers that has made the dream to unite kids from different backgrounds a reality through his gift of music.  John's passion is contagious and his joy overflows through his music, his kindness, and his smile.   If you have ever met John, you feel as if you have a new friend...and I assure you, John does too. -Emily Huck, Area Developer, Knoxville TN

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