Friendships Rooted in Faith

Since 1941, Young Life, a Christian ministry, has reached out to middle school, high school, and college-aged students in all 50 states and 90 countries and has given them the opportunity to grow in their faith.

Young Life has various meeting locations around Little Rock.  On Mondays, each location holds what is called “club” at 7:37 pm.  Mrs. Erin Green is the area director for the Bayou Region and looks forward to leading “club” each week.  “We play games, sing songs, and perform skits with different characters,” said Mrs. Green. “Then, at the end of the night, a leader who has experience with high school kids stands up and gives a simple talk about who Jesus is and what He thinks of us.”

 

 

 

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                            Above: Students of Midtowne Younglife meet at “club”. Photo provided by Trevor Anderson

 

Each week, club ends at 9:00.  However, the fun does not stop.  “My favorite thing is going to Chick-fil-A after.  This is where I have really gotten to know a lot of my friends and leaders,” said senior Jackson Rice.

These “leaders” that Rice and Mrs. Green referred to are adults who connect with high school students and coordinate Young Life events.  Mr. Kyle Cook is currently in medical school, and on the side he is a leader. “Young Life is the party with a purpose in that we get to hang out with our high school friends and experience a night where you don’t have to think about schoolwork,” said Mr. Cook.  “It’s a stress-free night where you get to hang out, be a kid, and hear a story about who Jesus is.”

These leaders are involved in the lives of the students outside of Young Life events.  Mr. Andy Bingham got involved because of the relational aspect of the organization. “It’s more than just club on Mondays; you go and hang out with high school students at football games or at other events that they attend,” said Mr. Bingham.  “You get to really do life with kids and do life to the fullest with a purpose behind it by teaching about Jesus.”

Rice has taken the time to get to know his leaders over the past two years.  “Your leaders can get you through anything,” he said.

As an organization, Young Life’s mission statement is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ.  “[Young Life] can be directed to a wide variety of ages from all different walks of life,” said Mrs. Green.  “Not only does it introduce them to Jesus Christ, but it also helps them grow in their faith. It can be somebody who grew up in Church and just wants to go deeper into the Bible, or it can be somebody who has never stepped foot into a church and does not know anything about Jesus.

“A Young Life leader, an adult, sits beside them and tries to give them wisdom and knowledge about who Jesus is and what he thinks of them,” said Mrs. Green.

“At club, we do it with a short talk that reaches out to the masses of people as an overview.  We also have small groups, called ‘Campaigners,’ where we dig deeper into the Bible and talk about what a relationship with Jesus looks like in our life.”

This past summer, Rice had the opportunity to travel to one of Young Life’s camps; he went to Carolina Point in North Carolina.  “It was so cool because they had all sorts of activities for us,” said Rice. “We got to play ping pong, carpet ball, basketball, swim, and so much more.  We had a lot of free time where our counselors would sign us up for different activities. We got to have so much fun and grow in our faith, all at the same time.”

Rice loved the friendships that he made while he was away at camp.  He said, “I hadn’t talked to some of the people that went to camp ever before, and it has been super awesome getting to know them better.”

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Above: Younglife students in the summer at Carolina Point. Photo provided by Mount Saint Mary’s student, Lily Suskie

Every person has a different Young Life experience.  Mrs. Green became involved when she was in high school. “I had a Young Life leader who took the time to get to know me, and she made me feel like I was valued, known, and loved.  She later told me that this was because Jesus thinks that I am valued, known, and loved. I just wanted to make sure that other high school students knew that about themselves, too.”

This organization has impacted Rice in his two years of involvement. “Young Life to me is a way to get closer to God, but not just God Himself,” he said.  “You can get closer with your friends and all of the people around you at Young Life.

“Spiritually, it has brought me a long way.  I have had some problems in my life, but it has ultimately brought me closer to God.

“I used to be introverted and not talk to people,” said Rice.  “Now, I have done a skit in front of everyone at club, and I used to hate to get up and do things like that in front of people.”

Mr. Cook encourages high school students to consider attending Young Life on Monday nights.  “As a college student, Young Life made me feel special, important, and known,” said Mr. Cook.  “Young life can have such an impact on a wide variety of ages. It is so much more than an organization.”

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