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CONTENTS | SPRING 2018

5 WITH A WORD 7 BRINGING THE LIGHT 11 A HISTORIC GATHERING 13 ALUMNI AWARDS

ABOUT THE COVER As this camper’s shirt suggests, YoungLives, our ministry with teenage moms, is all about family. The photo is taken at Camp Buckner, Young Life’s affiliate camp in the Texas Hill Country, a place designed just for them. Here, these moms have an opportunity to experience life to the full as they process what it means to be daughters of the King!

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 2 3 4 10 17 22

15 LEO’S LEGACY 19 TWIN BILLING

From the President #younglife Young Life Lite In It With Kids Passages Young Life Spoken Here

Cover photo by Natalie Casabonne

is a publication of Young Life, a mission devoted to introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. Relationships magazine is published three times a year (spring, fall and winter) by Young Life. If you’re receiving duplicate copies or would like to switch over to the electronic version, please contact the Young Life Mission Assistance team at 877-438-9572. We can also help you with the change of address or giving information.

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Publisher/President Newt Crenshaw

Art Director Isaac Watkins

Executive Editor Terry Swenson

Designers Liz Knepper Joann Oh Diné Wiedey

Senior Editor Jeff Chesemore Coordinator Donna McKenzie Copy Editor Jessica Williams

Contributing Photographers James Davis Jeraline Johnson Eva Rettig Claire McWhorter

Young Life is a Charter Member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

younglife.org P.O. Box 520 Colorado Springs CO 80901 Support Young Life at giving.younglife.org/kids


FROM THE PRESIDENT

Beautifully Broad and Slow Good When I reflect on reaching all kids by earning the right to share the good news All Kids — Reaching of Jesus Christ — two words come to adolescents of every my mind: broad and slow. ability and all economic, I admit I tend to lift up and cultural and ethnic appreciate just the opposite: narrow backgrounds through (focused) and fast (efficient). Hmmm. innovative approaches. What might the Lord be telling us here? First, He is telling us to go against many of our natural tendencies. In METHOD #3 terms of reaching all kids, He is telling Earning the right to us to not gravitate just to people like share the good news of us, which, of course, is our inclination. Jesus Christ. As someone once told me: “Unless you consciously include people who are different than you, you will subconsciously exclude them.” In the Kingdom of God, all peoples are included. In Genesis 12:2-3 (ESV), the LORD said to Abraham: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing … and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Italics mine) In Revelation 7:9-11, John says: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb … and crying out … ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’!” (Again, italics mine) Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? We could go through nearly every book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and see God’s heart of redemption extending to all types of people. That is the heart of Young Life, too. We want to “reach and teach” all kids with the gospel of Jesus Christ. All abilities. All socio-economic classes. All cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The Lord wants us to move boldly into uncomfortable places while finding innovative ways of telling young people about His amazing love.

VALUE #3

Did you know … ?

» We minister to more orphans on the continent of Africa than almost any other ministry? » In Bangalore, India, we are ministering to kids in some of the poorest slums on the planet? » We reach kids in the wealthiest neighborhoods in big cities across the U.S., Europe and Asia? » In Southern California we have teams reaching foster kids and homeless kids with the gospel?

» We reach kids around the world through Club Beyond, Young Life’s ministry to military teens? » We are fast becoming one of the largest ministry organizations in the U.S. with kids with disabilities, and also teen moms? We love them all with the love of Jesus. Our hearts ache to see them know their Savior, and find purpose and direction in Him. Young Life is “beautifully broad” because the Kingdom God is lovingly establishing is “beautifully broad.” OK, how about “slow?” Most of us don’t like slow. In our society we like “fast everything.” Like many, I can get frustrated when slowed down by traffic, poor service at a restaurant, a delayed flight and so on. We see God’s slow way throughout Scripture. Jesus chose only 12. He walked, talked and ate with them; He served and sacrificed for them, and became their friend, even unto the cross. When we earn the right to share the good news, we are modeling Jesus’ slow way of building His Kingdom. One person, one friendship at a time. It seems, as the Agent of all creation, Jesus is aware of how we are made, and what our deepest needs are. And, our best way of making that deep reality evident to kids is by getting to know them, and letting them know us. This is not fast work. It cannot be efficiently cranked out like potato chips on some production line. Young people are wonderfully created image bearers of the Most High God who need someone to walk alongside them, listen to them and tell them they are worth way more than this world often tells them — because they belong to a God who loves them very much. So, earning the right to share the gospel is the way Jesus did it. It’s not just “so good;” it’s “slow good!” Yes, Young Life is “beautifully broad” and “slow good.” Let’s stay that way, as we follow the “author and perfecter of our faith,” Jesus Himself. To see the complete set of Young Life’s Mission, Vision, Values and Methods, visit mission.younglife.org.

Newt Crenshaw Young Life President

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YOUNG LIFE LITE

By Stacy Windahl Olivia, second from left, with her girls. Olivia Swindler is a Young Life staff associate in Grenoble, an ancient city in the foothills of the French Alps. Once an Olympics host city, Grenoble is also France’s second-largest research center, home to multinational tech companies and bustling with university students. Forty-one percent of its residents are students. Grenoble is a city of smart people — smart in a STEM kind of way. (Science, technology, engineering and math. Yeah. That kind of smart.) Add to this distinctive, the French political philosophy, “laïcité,” or “secularization,” meant to guard its citizens from the influence of organized religion. Its strict enforcement and practical result is an absence of any At the core of faith-based activity in Grenoble schools Young Life is meeting where the high school day lasts from kids where they 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Wednesdays when school must end by 1 p.m. are. If my girls love What’s a leader like Swindler to do memes, then it’s my to meet with super smart, overbooked job to prayerfully girls in impenetrable schools? Make Wednesdays count. Olivia had a goal of link those messages deepening the friendships and Christto Jesus.” centered conversations with three girls she’d taken to camp the summer before. When she suggested they meet on Wednesdays, Chloe, Allison and Claire agreed. Swindler went to their first gathering with a package of tissues on the ready, in case their conversations got deep. When Swindler suggested they might study the Bible, the girls declined. “Boring.” Swindler asked about reading a spiritual book together. “We read too many books already,” they replied. Swindler says she could feel the tissues in her bag gathering dust when she threw out a Hail Mary suggestion, “What if we write down a question or two and each week I’ll pick one for us to discuss?” Perfect!

“I cut up slips of paper, and we all scribbled down our questions. I knew these questions would be profound.” As soon as the girls left, Swindler unfolded the slips to read: • If I hit myself and it hurt, am I strong, or am I weak? • When I buy cheese, there are holes in it. Does that mean the more I buy cheese, the more I am wasting my money?” • What if soy milk is just milk introducing itself in Spanish? Swindler said, “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The only questions about God were ones I had written. All their questions had to do with memes.” Memes are captioned photos or cartoons that spread virally. Their snarky, culturally aware humor makes memes popular with French kids. With prayer and Google, an undeterred Swindler linked these memes to gospel truths for their weekly discussions. For instance, since “soy” means “I am” in Spanish, she asked where the girls find their identity. After one difficult week creating meaning from memes, when Swindler was feeling like a failure, Chloe said, “You know what I love about this time, Olivia?” (Swindler prepared for the worst.) “You’re able to relate memes and things we see every day on the internet to God!” At once, Swindler remembered why she loved her work. “Because at the core of Young Life is meeting kids where they are. If my girls love memes, then it’s my job to prayerfully link those messages to Jesus.” In so doing, Swindler and leaders like her share a truth that penetrates sophisticated cities, tribal villages and the town down the road. There is no subject, nothing seen nor heard that God does not speak into. And no fad or trend He cannot use to send a message of love — even, and especially, to meme girls.  

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A leader’s patient persistence helps a high schooler discover her true value. Kristin Good was on a mission from day one: she wanted Erinn to meet Jesus. So for three years, the Young Life leader showed up at lunches and tennis matches, took pictures at homecoming and chaperoned prom. She pursued and, most of all, she prayed. But her young friend was content to wander. In the end, it was one simple word etched on a necklace, which finally changed Erinn’s life. And after years of running and resisting, the “Word that was with God” found a home in her heart. For Erinn, that one word — engraved on a charm strung on a copper chain — was evidence Jesus saw her and loved her. For Kristin, it was a much-needed reminder that the Word had been with them both from the very beginning.

n the

Erinn and Kristin on Lake Powell.

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Kristin and Erinn vividly remember first meeting each other in January of 2015. Kristin was a freshman at Colorado State University and had just been placed as a leader at Fossil Ridge High

By Leslie Strader

School in Northern Colorado, where Erinn was a sophomore. “Erinn was feisty!” Kristin recalled. “We hit it off right away.” Erinn added, “I remember I instantly felt very comforted by her. We clicked really well. I felt safe with Kristin.” Erinn had just started going to club a few weeks prior to meeting Kristin. Erinn said her family attended church only on Christmas and Easter, and she only went to club because she heard it was the place to be. While the pair quickly found a connection, Kristin said she also felt Erinn’s resistance to faith. “For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been against the Lord,” Kristin said. “She had a big wall up every time. She’d always say, ‘I’m just here because my friends are here.’ Naturally I started feeling discouraged. As much as I wanted that relationship for her, she just did not want it. There was no movement toward the Lord I could ever see.” Erinn explained, “I thought Jesus was for perfect people. I thought you had to be this perfect person to receive His love. I had a hard time believing because of what was happening in my life at the time and happening in other people’s lives. I thought, ‘If God loves you, why would He put you through all this?’” Kristin was discouraged but not deterred. Between club, Campaigners and other times together, she spent several nights a week with Erinn and her friends. During those years, Erinn went to summer camp, winter retreats and on a backpacking trip — and still, nothing changed. “In those three years, my heart was set on fire for her, and I felt a deep yearning for freedom and truth to change her life,” Kristin said. “Every cabin time, coffee date or walk we went on for three


years, she would express that she didn’t believe in God and didn’t want anything to do with Him. She kept coming to Young Life simply because it was fun and we got to spend time together. “Every year, I had a battle inside of me, feeling like I wasn’t doing enough as a leader, and my heart broke constantly that she did not understand the depths of the Father’s love for her.” At the same time, Erinn was quietly fighting her own battle. “I never felt worthy of anything,” she said. “I wrote in my journal about how I wish I could be worthy of love. It was a word that came up a lot for me. I think deep down I couldn't believe there was a God who loved me because I could never say I loved myself. I truly believed I was not worthy of receiving love from anyone.”

The

The summer after Erinn’s senior year she went with 19 other graduates to Lake Powell for a weeklong Rocky Mountain Region Backcountry houseboat trip. In the two months leading up to this trip, Kristin and her co-leader, Helena, prayed specifically for each of their 12 senior girls. They asked the Lord for a word from Him they could use to encourage and bless their friends. Once the words were decided, they had each one engraved on a necklace as a graduation gift. They planned to present them during the trip. When they landed on Erinn’s word, Kristin said she remembers thinking, “Nothing seemed more perfect for her.” One night early in the week on Lake Powell, the speaker challenged the teenagers with a question: What lies are you believing? Inside Erinn’s heart, something began to shift. “During cabin time that night, we were sharing our insecurities,” Erinn said, “and I told everyone how I felt unworthy of love.” Kristin remembers sitting there, watching God’s grace wash over Erinn: “Her friends came alongside her and told her, ‘That is a lie; you are worthy! Don’t believe that lie!’ The word ‘worthy’ kept coming up over and over … ”

coincidence. I had written, ‘I want to be worthy’ endless times in my journal. I felt like the Holy Spirit came over me, and I knew the Lord was true and good in that moment. “The fact that Kristin heard that from Him months before proved to me He was listening and proclaiming His love for me. I felt renewed, and it was the best feeling ever to know the truth about myself.” Kristin said, “It’s a beautiful thing to see the Lord work that tangibly. As Young Life leaders, we keep showing up no matter what. We may or may not get to see fruit, but it’s an honor to keep fighting. It can be hard sometimes, but it’s not a burden. It’s what we sign up for. We do not stop because the God we believe in will never stop showing up for us. “I’ve had a front row seat to heartbreak and redemption. And it’s the sweetest gift I’ve ever received in my whole life. My life changed through Erinn’s life changing.” Erinn, now a freshman at Montana State in Bozeman, said she still has her struggles, but now she knows where her worth is found. And she’s forever grateful to her Young Life leader who faithfully pointed the way. “I feel more complete, more whole,” Erinn said. “I feel comfort in the Lord. I’m not running to certain things anymore. I still struggle, but my faith has helped me a lot and brought me so much. “Kristin pursued me endlessly. She loved me no matter what. She literally did not stop until I heard the truth about God and His love for me. And she’s still going with me. She’s helped me step into my faith. It’s been life changing for me. I don’t even know how you can thank someone for that.”  

Erinn and Kristin and Young Life friends on a backpacking trip.

With

The next day, Kristin and Helena took the girls aside and presented each one with her necklace and her “word.” The girls slowly unwrapped their gifts and discovered the treasure inside. Attached to every chain was a disk, stamped in bold assurance with the truth each one proclaimed. Erinn’s word was “WORTHY.” “When I saw the word, I started crying,” Erinn said. “In that moment I knew it wasn't a

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BRINGING THE

Young Life leaders’ heroic response to the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone. By Kelsey Carr and Dana Knowles

IGHT The Ebola crisis in West Africa began in March 2014; nearly two years later, on January 13, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the last of the countries affected, Liberia, to be Ebola-free. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, 8,766 people died and 24,802 people overall were infected. Before the crisis, Liberia endured a 14-year civil war, killing thousands and displacing millions; while horrific, in many ways Ebola was more difficult to combat because it was an invisible enemy.

The Destruction When Ebola hit Liberia and Sierra Leone, it impacted economies, destroyed families, inflicted extreme pain on individuals and generated massive fear. Crime, teen pregnancies, prostitution and rapes increased. On the medical side, before Ebola, only 50 licensed doctors were available to serve Liberia’s four million people. Hospitals were so overrun that other illnesses went undiagnosed, which resulted in many deaths not related to Ebola, but resulting from the outbreak. It was predicted that by 2016, over half the population would be wiped out. But God had another plan.

Decontee’s Story

Decontee featured on a billboard.

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Young Life began in Liberia in 2003 under the leadership of James Davis. Davis is now senior regional director for Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana. His niece, Decontee, became infected with the Ebola virus in August 2014. Because her fiancé was also ill with Ebola and unable to help, one of Decontee’s Campaigner kids physically carried her, at great risk to his own health, to the hospital. When they arrived, there was no bed for Decontee because of the hundreds of Ebola patients, so she was left under a tree where the staff occasionally brought food to her. Alone and helpless, she prayed for a miracle. Eventually, she was moved to the hospital where she fell in and out of a coma. During this time, Decontee worried about her fiancé. After three days in the hospital, she heard screaming and recognized the voice. Through all the noise in the hospital, she said, “I only heard his voice. I said, ‘That is my fiancé crying.’” A nurse told her he was in another ward, but Decontee was too weak to reach him. That same day, she learned he had died. While struggling to survive, Decontee mourned the loss of her fiancé and many other loved ones. Adding to the difficulties, medical teams wore PPE’s (Personal Protection Equipment) like space suits, where inside, temperatures rose to over 110 degrees, limiting shifts to an hour at a time. “We would go for hours with no one to care for us. No water. No food. No one to help you go to the bathroom,” Decontee said.


James Davis and Salome Karwah – an Ebola caregiver named one of Time magazine’s 2014 “Persons of the Year.” In the days that passed, Decontee memorized Psalm 91. She prayed every day, asking for God’s protection and reflecting on His promises of “deliverance from the deadly pestilence” as she wandered in and out of consciousness, uncertain whether she would survive. During this time, the Young Life community in Africa and many others around the world committed to pray Psalm 91 for 91 days for the areas affected in West Africa. They began in October, and at the end of the 91 days the Ebola crisis was over. The Centers for Disease Control had predicted one million infected by December. Baffled health officials struggled to know why Ebola ended so much sooner than anticipated. Almost three weeks after Decontee checked in, she was released from the hospital — Ebola free. Later that month, she returned to donate her blood to other Ebola patients, who also recovered. Decontee is not only an Ebola survivor; she is a mother, a Christ follower and one of Young Life’s Developing Global Leaders.

Stacking Hands As a result of Ebola, many children were orphaned and homeless. Those infected, exposed and even those who recovered and survived were shunned by their communities. Across the U.S. and Africa, Young Life leaders and support teams provided resources during the economic collapse when food was scarce and marketplaces closed. Still, the emotional and psychological toll was overwhelming. Davis texted Steve Larmey, senior vice president of Young Life Africa/Middle East, and said, “Steve, I have to admit, I feel like giving up the fight, but if I do, who will help the kids and leaders? We have no peace or freedom. Our people are dying every hour. Our hope is in Jesus, but we fear we may be the next Ebola victims. I can’t bear this — Jesus we need you more.” He later texted back, “I promise I will NOT give up — the Band of Brothers do not give up … I know we are not in this alone — the Lord is with us. And so are you.”

Jeraline Johnson and Ethel Dixon, on staff in Liberia, were quarantined for 42 and 21 days, respectively.

Jeraline Johnson, on staff in Liberia, was quarantined for 42 days. She was the only one left in the house as both her sister and brotherin-law died of Ebola. All day she continually prayed Psalm 91. “I sang, I praised and thanked God.” Then she broke down in tears and sobbed on the phone with Larmey and said, “Steve, I am so scared.” At the end of the call she composed herself and said, “My hope is in Jesus alone. And He is faithful.” The Ebola crisis did not stop the staff and volunteers in Liberia from doing ministry despite the treacherous battle they faced ahead. Ethel Dixon, on staff in Liberia, was quarantined for 21 days. Unable to leave her home, Dixon prayed to survive and be released from this isolation. She describes these 21 days as the most depressing and loneliest of her life. Despite her situation, Dixon continued to call her Young Life kids every day, praying and doing Campaigners over the phone. She was eventually released from the chains of isolation and shouted for joy as she was finally free. “The feeling was unexplainable when I finally touched another human for the first time in weeks.” James Davis and Zinnah Yallah, regional director in Liberia, were called to go and spread God’s love during this perilous time. Davis said, “I could not just sit around and wait, I felt God tell me to go.” Davis asked his staff and volunteer leaders if they’d be willing to go despite the risk involved, and was humbled as he watched every hand in the room go up. With Davis leading them, all 26 joined hands and vowed they were together in the mission of reaching kids with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They pledged love and friendship to one another regardless of the outcome. God called them, gave them courage and a vision of Ebola survival. In case they were infected, the leaders slept in separate rooms from their families from October to February. Davis said, “We knew we were putting our families at risk, but we had to trust God was in control.” Continued on the next page.

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Continued from the previous page. What motivated Yallah and the rest of the leaders? “James Davis,” he said. “We were all afraid, we had no idea what to do. Then James called us together and said, ‘We are light. It has never been darker in Liberia. We need to go now more than ever. Kids need light more than ever. Kids need hope now more than ever. Kids need our love. Let’s go.’ And then James went, and he didn’t stop going. Every day he met with us and kids, encouraging us and texting us, bringing food or supplies, meeting with government officials — we get our courage and inspiration from the Holy Spirit in him.”

Not Your Typical Young Life Camps

LIBERIA Ø (Before Ebola) Kids Reached in 2014: 37,890 Ø (After Ebola) Kids Reached in 2017: 109,201

188%

INCREASE

Meanwhile the United Nations recognized Sierra Leone was also in dire need, and asked for people willing to go. Davis, Yallah and other Liberian leaders volunteered. The UN paid for Davis and Yallah to go to Sierra Leone to set up survivor camps. Police barracks acted as Ebola treatment centers where kids were quarantined, so Young Life began a soccer camp right outside the police station. People were astounded by Young Life’s willingness to go into risky areas, and BBC and CNN journalists interviewed Young Life staff and reported on the Ebola survivor camps. These camps were the first gatherings in the countries since the crisis because no one wanted to be around Ebola survivors. Nineteen-year-old Lorpu, who lost her immediate family of six people, survived the virus after spending the “worst days of her life” in the Ebola treatment center where she saw dozens die daily. Her camp days, however, were “the best days ever. I have a new family now.” Many of the survivors said the same things: “Now I have hope. I can’t believe people love us and touched us and served us. I had not laughed in a long time.” Young Life staff and leaders held eight survivor camps with 1,500 campers. In these camps, 1,000 campers put their faith in Jesus; some were trained as volunteer leaders. The Liberian government donated food and other items and, after the survivor camps, invited Young Life leaders to help develop programs to support Ebola survivors and orphans.

100,000 and Counting

SIERRA LEONE Ø (Before Ebola) Kids Reached in 2014: 56,972 Ø (After Ebola) Kids Reached in 2017: 81,722

43%

INCREASE

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Today, Young Life in Liberia and Sierra Leone is stronger than ever and the number of kids reached is greater than any year previous to Ebola. Davis said, “Because of the Ebola crisis, we were able to go into areas we have never been able to go into before; God used it for good.” Ebola survivors credit Young Life more than any other institution for their spiritual and emotional healing, because leaders and volunteers were there for them during a time when everyone else abandoned them. Young Life leaders in Liberia and Sierra Leone did what Young Life leaders do around the world — they shined the light of Jesus’ love into the darkness, bringing a visible reminder of His power against invisible enemies. Davis, Yallah, Dixon and other leaders now thank God for Ebola, which has enabled them to reach lost kids in new areas where ministry has taken root. God gave them opportunities to share Jesus in a time when hope was scarce. He also gave them courage, resilience and a more profound trust in Him, the ultimate warrior and healer, even when the road ahead seemed impossible. Jesus was in the midst of it all. Thanks to God’s protective hand, no one involved in Young Life contracted Ebola, even those on the front lines. While the invisible enemy destroyed many lives, the visible Healer triumphed over death; bringing new life and healing to what was broken.  


in it with kids!

Brad, Lauchie with his new Bible and Alex Rogan, Lauchie’s leader.

Sifa

Valerie (left) with her leader, Debbie Griggs, and friend Lexie.

This year, our cross-country (XC) team did so well that they made it to the New York State XC meet! Unfortunately, the meet fell on the same day as the first day of our Young Life Fall Weekend ... and I’m one of the coaches. I was faced with a tough decision: go to the meet and miss out on part of fall weekend, or go to fall weekend and miss out on encouraging the guys I had been running with (literally) all year. I decided to go to the state meet and follow through with the relationships I’d been building all season. It was a great time together at State, and a few of the guys actually ended up coming for the rest of fall weekend. One young man, Lauchie, had an incredible weekend, really connecting with the club talks he heard. The next day after our area club, he began a relationship with Jesus. He came to the next Campaigners, and while there, one of the leaders handed him a Bible. He replied, “First time for everything ... never held a Bible before,” and later that evening remarked, “This is thrilling ... I’m loving this!” What an honor it is to be part of what God is doing in his life. This was a huge reminder to me that what we do is not about programs, it’s about relationships. — Brad Varner, area developer, Saranac Lake, New York

Sifa is a freshman at JC Harmon High School in Kansas City, Kansas. She is also a Congolese refugee who has been in America for only a few years. Having seen violence and death up close and personal, she escaped from a region where physical safety comes at a premium to a new country and culture where she finds it hard to fit in. But she doesn’t want your sympathy. She is a proud young woman who has refused to let her circumstances keep her from experiencing a full life. This summer, Sifa went to WyldLife camp at Clearwater Cove. On the way to camp, her leaders were aware of her tough facade, rarely ever cracking a smile. But soon they saw the real Sifa, who loves adventure, loves to laugh and loves to play. They saw the real Sifa who made quick friends with all the girls in her cabin from Northwestern Arkansas. And, over the course of a week, they witnessed the transformation of a girl touched by the gospel, loved by Jesus, who wept quietly at breakfast because it was the last day of camp, hugged tightly by her new friends. — Curt Johnson, staff, Kansas City, Kansas

Valerie’s grandmother and mother have been in and out of her life since birth. Both struggled with drug addictions and regularly left Valerie to fend for herself and three younger siblings. One day Child Protective Services came to her house and told her to pack the few items she and her siblings had. That was their last time together before being sent to different foster homes. The next few years were spent trying to come to terms with separation and homelessness. She was shuffled between one foster home to another, never feeling a sense of belonging or connection. One day she was invited to Young Life club a few houses down from where she was placed. “A Young Life leader came up to me and called me by name,” she said. “I don’t even know how she knew my name (I forgot I was wearing a name tag). But that stood out to me, she knew my name and seemed to really care. I kept going to club on Monday nights. That next summer I was able to go to Lost Canyon camp and during the 15 minutes of silence under the stars I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I cried for what seemed all night. I finally belonged! I had a family!” Valerie is now attending junior college and has reconnected with her biological family! — Dondi Rodriguez, area director, Peoria, Arizona

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A H istoric

G ather ing At our fall Board of Trustees meeting in Colorado Springs, we had a very special evening together to honor past trustees and all the living presidents of Young Life. We even had our esteemed founder’s son, Jim Rayburn III, and his wife, Lucia, join us. Our plan was to bring together this amazing historical perspective of our ministry through people, archives and memorabilia, and to honor what the Lord has done in and through Young Life for over 76 years. Oh, what a night it was! We agreed with the psalmist who said, “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises, and faithful in all he does” (Psalm 145:13b, NIV), as we heard from each of these former presidents. — Newt

we’re thankful for 53 years of fine presidential leadership in one room!

Front row: Bill Starr (1964‑1977), Bob Mitchell (1977‑1986), Hal Merwald (interim, 1986‑1987), Doug Burleigh (1987‑1992) Back row: Ted Johnson (interim, 1992‑1993), Denny Rydberg (1993‑2016) and Newt Crenshaw (2016‑present).

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Photo in top right: Carol Eaton, former board member, with her husband, David.


Panel of

Presidents NEWT: What are a few memorable accomplishments you saw from the Lord during your tenure? BILL: “Trying to take over for our founder, because he was the greatest guy I’ve known in the faith. He helped me spiritually more than anyone else. He was a man of prayer — great prayer! And a man of vision.” BOB: “Putting an emphasis on giving women the same opportunity as men for training, for speaking and for positions of leadership.” DENNY: “I was most happy that our staff and volunteers were so committed to reaching the next kid, and we just kept going and going and going.”

NEWT: Do you have any thoughts, encouragement or advice for Young Life today? HAL: “I hope that we would put a renewed emphasis and research on how we’re going to reach more and more high school kids ... because it has kind of been the heart that has pumped the blood of resources to all the other branches and members of the body.” TED: “I mean, this is the deal that’s unbelievable for committee people, if they get into it for the fun of it. You really need to get deep enough. Once you get in it, you’ve got a lifetime of having put your ladder on the right wall and seeing God work not only with others, but in your own life!”

Clockwise from top: The founder’s son, Jim Rayburn III, and his wife, Lucia, flanked by Susan and Newt Crenshaw. BeBe Hobson, Young Life’s chief diversity officer, and Michael Stain, board member. Mike “Ash” Ashburn having fun with Denny Rydberg and Newt Crenshaw. Boone Powell, board member, who has known and worked with every Young Life president.

DOUG: “I just think the best Young Life is yet to come! I remember one time I sat down with Jim [Rayburn] just before he died, and he said to me: ‘We need to go after ALL the kids.’ I love the fact that Young Life is really trained to do that!”

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ALUMNI AWARDS

Young Life

Alumni Awards Dave and Stacey Alpern 2017 Distinguished Young Life Alumnus Award Dave Alpern says his early years with Young Life “literally altered the entire course of my life — who I married, where I went to college, where I went to work, all of my life-friends. My entire wedding party were Campaigners brothers, and one of my high school leaders, Rick Beckwith, helped officiate.” A man of abiding faith in Christ and deep roots with Young Life, Dave is the president of Joe Gibbs Racing, with over 600 employees under his leadership. It was in the home of his Young Life leader, John Colston, where Dave began following Jesus. Soon, he became involved in Campaigners, and helped build a club of 300 students a week in Fairfax, Virginia. Dave attended nearby George Mason University so he could be a volunteer leader. With friend and now Young Life committee trainer, Moose Valliere, he built a solid ministry. Upon graduation, Dave moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to help another high school buddy, J.D. Gibbs, and his dad, Joe, start the NASCAR team Joe Gibbs Racing. Dave began as an unpaid intern, and over two decades

Dave and Stacey Alpern with their sons.

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By Jonathan Schultz

ascended through almost every front-office role possible. He’s a respected figure in his industry, and a regular guest speaker and college lecturer.  Before moving to Charlotte, Dave made a 10-year commitment to continue as a Young Life leader wherever God would take him. After fulfilling this pledge, Dave not only joined the local committee but quickly became the chair. Dave also gladly joined the Carolina Regional Committee. Stacey has been the consummate support in all these roles. She, too, served as a volunteer leader and is engaged on the local committee. Their two eldest (twin) boys are Young Life College leaders at UNC – Chapel Hill, and their youngest son is a high school senior and very active in Young Life. When asked how the mission has influenced him, Dave responded, “As a boss, I feel like a Young Life leader at work. I find myself doing contact work every day; meeting employees where they are at, caring about them both in and outside of work. Our company events all have Young Life-inspired skits and humor. As a husband, Scripture provides a blueprint for marriage, and that was introduced to me through Young Life as well as the examples of godly men I met through Young Life. As a dad, I’d like to think I’m like a lifelong leader to my boys — with lots of cabin times and camp trips.” Though the purpose of the “Distinguished Young Life Alumnus Award” is to honor and appreciate the Alperns, Dave was quick to convey a message of encouragement to all Young Life volunteers and staff. “I have a great deal of admiration for all of you — so much respect for what you do and for answering the call! I know how hard it is and also how much joy it brings, but it can be thankless at times. Never forget, your work is of eternal value.”  


michael cromartie

duane lehman

2017 Young Life posthumous alumni achievement award

2017 alumni service to Young Life award

By Jonathan Schultz

In a September 1, 2017, New York Times obituary article, Carl M. Cannon, the Washington bureau chief for the website RealClearPolitics wrote, “Mike Cromartie did more to ensure that American political journalism is imbued with religious tolerance, biblical literacy, historical insight and an ecumenical spirit than any person alive.” Cromartie’s accomplishments are too numerous to list, and his influence on American media too far-reaching to sum up here. His influence was overwhelming; he was a research assistant for Chuck Colson’s Prison Ministries, the editor of more than a dozen books and an appointee to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, where he was twice elected chairman. He was a beloved husband and father, and held degrees from both Covenant College (Lookout Mountain, Georgia) and American University. Michael Cromartie was also a Young Life alumnus. In 1967, Mal McSwain walked into the Dykes High School gym in Atlanta to find a young Michael Cromartie shooting hoops alone. Cromartie asked McSwain, “How long are you going to be here?” Thinking he meant at the school that day, McSwain responded, “Until after football practice.” In reality, Cromartie was wondering if McSwain would be there the entire school year and if this was an adult he could trust. The two became friends and eventually Cromartie began coming to Young Life club. Cromartie would eventually serve as a volunteer leader at Lovett High School in Atlanta after graduating from college. McSwain and Cromartie had a lifelong friendship — a friendship that included spouses and children. About Cromartie, McSwain said, “It was amazing to have a frontrow seat to see him blossom and grow. He was one of those guys that you could see his life have an impact on others. He had a God-given gift of being able to ask questions and was amazing at bringing people together.” Though his volunteer involvement with Young Life decreased as career demands increased, he was never very far away from the mission. We are pleased to recognize Michael Cromartie as our very first Young Life “Posthumous Alumni Achievement Award” recipient.  

By Shannon Harrell

In 1953, Duane Lehman was attending Wheaton College and rooming with three other college guys. These young men all met Jesus through Young Life during high school, and Duane was intrigued. He started attending Young Life leadership training on Sunday evenings led by George Sheffer. Shortly after, Duane was sold on this ministry and began pursuing high school students as a volunteer leader. After earning his Ph.D. in chemistry, Duane and his wife, Bonnie, moved to Midland, Michigan, and were approached by Ruth and Dennis Gibbson about starting Young Life in Midland. This ignited their passion, and from 1960-1961, they tirelessly pursued the dream of reaching the kids of Midland. Soon, they formed a local committee and became the first committee chairs. By the fall of 1962, Midland had regular clubs and was the first Young Life area in Michigan. The couple hosted Campaigners, built relationships with students and encouraged leaders. Over the next three years, attendance grew weekly as high school students poured into club. Midland also saw an increasing number of students going to Young Life summer camp. In order to help the young area grow, Duane and Bonnie stepped into what they believed to be short-term leadership roles. Duane was still faithfully leading 14 years later as a volunteer area director. He then served on the area and regional committees, trained volunteer leaders, hosted countless banquet tables and was Midland Young Life’s greatest advocate in the community. His love for Jesus and kids is contagious! Duane has been faithfully serving Young Life for 57 years. He has a deep, unwavering passion for sharing the gospel with kids and making Jesus known. At age 85, Duane is still engaged in a variety of Young Life ministries. In his words, “serving through Young Life was an enormously rewarding experience, and it still is!” With tears of joy, he recounts the ways God has used Young Life in Midland. “Working with these kids brought such hope to my heart. The whole point is inviting people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and it never ends.” Young Life is deeply grateful to Duane for his faith that led to the birth of an area and countless kids meeting Jesus.  

14


FIELD OF DREAMS

Tragedy does not have the final say for students in Fort Worth, Texas. By Chris Lassiter

Michael Ramos, a second-year Young Life staff associate in Fort Worth, Texas, loves the high school mission field and the baseball field. So when Carter-Riverside varsity baseball coach David Lara extended Ramos the opportunity to coach the Eagles’ summer league baseball team, Ramos jumped at the chance like a centerfielder stretching out for a potential home run ball. The dual roles — off-season baseball coach and full-time Young Life leader — fit Ramos perfectly until tragedy struck. Leonel “Leo” Garcia, the baseball team’s shy, Oreo cookie-loving second baseman, died in a car crash just before the start of his senior season. The shocking news of Leo’s death was indescribably painful for the Carter-Riverside High School community, as well as Ramos and fellow Young Life leader Lauren Anzalone. A teacher as well as a volunteer leader at Carter-Riverside, Anzalone found herself walking students through the darkest season of their lives. “We would often joke about the hardest part of being a Young Life leader is when your texts get ignored or when kids ask if you have friends your own age,” Anzalone said. “This year we learned it’s none of those things. The hardest part about being a Young Life leader is when you lose a Young Life kid.”

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If the school name Carter-Riverside sounds familiar within Young Life circles, it’s because Young Life founder Jim Rayburn started that school’s club. Anzalone, who helped re-launch Young Life at the school in 2011, fondly recounts pranks high school kids at Riverside played on Rayburn decades before. Set in a blue-collar, mostly Hispanic neighborhood, Carter‑Riverside is a 5A school with approximately 1,300 students. Athletically, the baseball team competes in a district with two perennial state powerhouse programs. Choosing to help Riverside players with baseball fundamentals introduced Ramos to a special group of students marked by their talent on the field and their closeness off it. “This is probably the only group of guys we have had who played little league together,” said Ramos, offering an answer to both the group’s talent and camaraderie. “They were very affectionate, for high school boys,” Anzalone added. “They were always hugging each other. When they would talk about things, one would say ‘my house,’ and they would be like, ‘No. Our house.’ They would all take ownership of each other’s things. It was just very clear they were a unit.” As juniors, the group helped the Eagles make the baseball playoffs, breaking a decades-long playoff drought and earning newspaper accolades. As a group of seniors, the close-knit friends had plans to go even deeper into the baseball playoffs and cap off their senior years with a Young Life camp trip to Carolina Point. Then calamity hit the group of friends. The details are still difficult for Ramos to talk about. Anzalone described that entire week as a nightmarish blur. For the two Young Life leaders, the days after the crash were filled trying to comfort teenagers, making hospital visits and, ultimately, attending a funeral. Leo, a right-handed batter who anchored the middle of the Eagles’ line-up, was buried in his No. 9 Carter-Riverside baseball jersey.


Leo (fourth from left) with his Eagles teammates.

The Young Life leaders prayed that their presence would communicate what words couldn’t in the midst of the tragedy. “The only thing I could think of is to be broken and hurt with them,” Ramos said. “I’ve experienced loss, but never to one of my guys. We had spent a lot of time together, and I knew the kids were feeling it even worse than me.”

CHANGE UP Ramos was invited in to help Anzalone and the Carter-Riverside teaching and counseling staff provide comfort for the kids. It was during this time that Young Life leaders learned Leo’s little sister, Emilie, was a freshman at the school. Anzalone couldn’t shake the feeling that Emilie needed to be on the Carolina Point trip. “There was just no doubt in my mind,” Anzalone said, “that she needed to be on that bus.” Emilie wasn’t the only surprise passenger. After coach Lara initially invited Ramos to be part of the kids’ baseball experience, Lara then accepted Ramos’s offer to be part of those same kids’ Young Life experience. At camp, God showed up in a mighty way, even as the Carter-Riverside students continued to work through extreme hurt and pain. One of the speakers in the morning “Real Life” series talked about losing a sibling. That speaker would later spend time in the club room crying with Emilie. “That was so hard, but so beautiful,” Anzalone said. “For me, it was my favorite week of camp ever.” And it wasn’t just that nearly all of the kids — including Emilie — stood up at the Say‑So. There was just something truly special about that week. “It’s the best week I’ve ever had with guys in a cabin,” Ramos said. “It was just great chemistry in our room.”

Emilie at Carolina Point.

LEO’S SPOT Ramos’s thoughts turn to Leo often, and his life and death are still incredibly emotional topics for him. As a tribute, Ramos approached Emilie, his Young Life committee and his donors about the idea of creating an annual camp scholarship honoring his former friend, second baseman and Young Life kid. Each year, one student will be awarded a commemorative seat on the summer camp trip. “Every year for as long as we can,” Anzalone said, “we will send a kid in Leo’s spot.”  

Listen to our brand-new show about a revolutionary mission and the stories of pioneers, like you, who live it. Subscribe today in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify or listen at younglife.org/podcast. 16


PASSAGES

“Chief” Joseph Madu

By Steve Larmey

October 1, 1961 – October 22, 2017 Joseph Madu, our area director in Lagos, Nigeria, died due to illness just weeks after his 56th birthday. The Young Life Africa team affectionately called him Chief Joseph, or “Chief.” Madu and his family moved from their home in Nigeria to Senegal in 2007 after having a dream in which God told them to go as missionaries to Senegal. He began our Young Life work in Senegal at the end of 2008 and was there until 2015, when his family was called back to their native Nigeria to help us begin Young Life there. Here is some of the fruit of his service with Young Life these nine years: • He founded Young Life in Senegal and Nigeria. • In nine years in Senegal over 27,000 kids (over 90 percent Muslim) have been reached by a Young Life leader; 30 ministries have started; more than 110 leaders have been trained and deployed to reach kids; over 5,000 kids have gone to camp (again over 90 percent Muslim); more than 2,000 kids have publicly confessed Jesus and over 600 have been involved in regular discipleship. • In two years in Nigeria, over 9,000 kids have been reached; seven clubs have started; 32 leaders have been recruited, trained and deployed; 219 kids have gone to camp; 135 kids have decided to follow Jesus; and 93 are being discipled regularly. What an impact.  

myron salisian

By Donna Hatasaki

October 13, 1944 – September 1, 2017 In March 2017, Young Life President Newt Crenshaw wrote a letter to supporters about 72-year-old Myron Salisian from Pasadena, California. Crenshaw said, “If there were a Young Life leader hall of fame, Myron would be inducted. At his ceremony, Myron would be surrounded by a sea of men and women, on their feet applauding this gentle Armenian attorney who showed them Jesus and His love.” Crenshaw’s tribute was a timely prologue for a celebration soon to come. On September 1, Salisian stepped from the side of his beloved wife, Gale, into the unveiled presence of Jesus and the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. It was a short step for a man who lived each day in single-minded devotion to the Savior and dedicated almost 50 years to introducing kids to Jesus Christ through Young Life. A 2010 Relationships article, “A Man for All Seasons,” reflected the secret of Salisian’s endurance. “I show up at the school and something special happens,” he said. “I have so many people praying for Pasadena High School. It’s like the Holy Spirit has preceded me when I arrive.” Salisian took his last group of kids from PHS to camp in 2016 before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As word spread of his diagnosis, club “kids” from every decade began making the pilgrimage back to Pasadena to honor the faithful man God used to change their lives. His impact was perhaps best captured in a post on the PHS Facebook page the day after his passing: “Myron Salisian was one of the most loving and caring individuals we’ve ever known. Rest in paradise, Myron.” The tribute was signed: #BULLDOGFORLIFE  

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Myron and Gale Salisian


William “Bill” Yinger Sr.

By Jeff Chesemore

PASSAGES

October 23, 1926 – October 30, 2017 Surrounded by his family in Fort Worth, Texas, Bill Yinger passed into the arms of his beloved Savior. For decades, he and his wife, Joan, were dear friends and faithful supporters of the mission of Young Life. For 35 years, 1962-1997, Yinger served on the Young Life Board of Trustees. Over this time he worked alongside each of the first five presidents, Jim Rayburn, Bill Starr, Bob Mitchell, Doug Burleigh and Denny Rydberg. He was an integral part of hiring every president from Starr to Rydberg. He was appointed board chairman twice (1973-1975; 1984-1987), and elected Trustee Emeritus in 1999. A true leader, Yinger helped guide numerous Christian, educational, business and civic organizations.  

tekson kayamba

By Steve Larmey

September 6, 1986 – January 27, 2018 Tekson Kayamba, our area director in Baraka, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), died in January of liver failure. All indications are he was poisoned, a common practice in that area. He was 31 years old and leaves behind his wife, Nyota, who is pregnant with their first child. Kayamba was part of the first Young Life club in DRC, went to the very first camp and decided to follow Jesus. He was in Benga Msoshi’s very first Campaigner group and quickly became a faithful and courageous volunteer leader with Msoshi. Later, because of the insecurity and bad economy, Kayamba went back to Baraka in his home region. There he began Young Life. Today there are five clubs in Baraka averaging over 600 kids per week. Kayamba also began our ministry in the Lusenda Refugee camp not far from Baraka. He had just come on Young Life staff in late 2017. Msoshi and Mathou Ngwanzi, current DRC regional director, describe Kayamba as generous and joyful. “He was faithful and brave,” Ngwanzi said of him. “If he said he would do something he would always do it. And he was not afraid to do what needed to be done.” “He always had a smile and though he had so little he always was first to give whatever he had,” Msoshi recalls.

Linwood Parks Shipley Jr.

Tekson and Nyota Kayamba

By Jeff Chesemore

August 2, 1931 – August 1, 2017 A great advocate of the mission, Parks Shipley has gone to be with his Savior after a courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. Shipley enjoyed a highly successful career in banking, and in the mid-1980s he and his wife, Micheline, became faithful advocates and supporters of Young Life. They started a committee in Summit, New Jersey, and helped develop the work in northern New Jersey. They also played a great part in helping establish Young Life in Newark. Shipley served on Young Life’s Board of Trustees from 1992-1996, a critical time in our mission’s history, as the board brought on our fifth (and longest-serving) president, Denny Rydberg. In 1998, the Shipleys moved south to St. Michaels, Maryland, where they helped begin Young Life in the nearby town of Easton, Maryland.

Parks and Micheline Shipley

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TWINNIWT GNILLIBBILLING

TWO sets of brothers, TWO different states, TWO Young Life ministries, ONE inviting Savior.

By Jeff Chesemore

DAVID AND DEVON Meeting kids for the first time is all in a day’s work for a Young Life leader, so it’s a rare and welcome surprise when a kid actually approaches them and initiates the conversation. But nothing prepared Austin Robertshaw, Young Life staff in Greenville, North Carolina, for his introduction to brothers David and Devon. In the stands at a high school football game, the brothers, along with some of their friends, were thinking about after-parties. “We were all looking around and asking, ‘Hey, where can we get some beer?’” David said. “We saw this one guy in the student section, kind of old to be in high school,” Devon added, “so we were like, what’s this guy doing?” “I walked straight up to him,” David said, “and asked, ‘Hey man, what’s your name?’” “I’m Austin, what’s your name?” “I’m David. Hey, are you 21?” “Yeah, I’m definitely 21!” “Hey, could you buy me some beer?” “Um, how old are you?” “I’m 17.” “Oh, you’re 17? I tell you what — I will … when you’re 21.” Everyone had a good laugh and after some more small talk, the brothers left Robertshaw to return to their seats. Unbeknownst to David and Devon, that encounter in the fall of 2016 would provide Robertshaw the opening to introduce them to something far more satisfying than beer … Young Life leader, Austin, cheering on Devon (left) and David.

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The Constant In the following months, Robertshaw continued to build upon their unique introduction; hanging with the brothers, playing video games at their house and getting to know them over dinners at Chipotle helped him learn about the challenges they’d faced up to that point. “Growing up, life was difficult,” David admitted. “My mom had us at 16. My father was kind of absent throughout my childhood.” The brothers moved frequently, attending several elementary schools during that time. Knowing what they were searching for, Robertshaw invited the brothers to Young Life, but they politely declined. “I was just lost,” David said. “Trying to figure out who I was, who my friends were going to be, where my dad was. I didn’t want to believe in anything at that point. If God was so great, then why was He letting my father be absent from my life? Why was He putting me through the things I was going through at the time?” Robertshaw welcomed questions like these and just kept showing up. “Austin was a constant,” Devon said. “He was persistent. It was eye-


opening — just like God chases after us and pursues us, Austin wants to have a relationship with us.” Eventually the brothers did show up at club, and nothing would ever be the same. “After club Devon said to me, ‘Hey, man, I really liked that,’” Robertshaw said. “Really? What did you like about it?” “It really resonated with me when you were talking about the brokenness in the world, ’cause we haven’t seen our dad since we were eight.” “Dang, that’s rough; tell me more about that.” The conversations continued throughout that school year. “I was going through a lot,” David said. “I started to turn to a lot of different avenues to try and find happiness — drugs, alcohol, and it wasn’t working. I was getting into fights with my mom and my brother. It just wasn’t clicking. “When I started coming to Young Life, these light bulbs were going off in my head. It all started to make sense. I finally felt a purpose to my life. I was like, ‘Man, all these things you’re doing on the weekends — you’re having a lot more fun at Young Life than doing that stuff.’ I realized this is what I need to do with my life.” David was lost no longer; he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he was ready to follow Jesus. That summer the area went to SharpTop Cove, Young Life’s camp in Georgia. It was here Devon also realized his need for the Savior. “I pulled Austin aside,” Devon said, “and we just got to talk about life, what he did when he was growing up in high school and how he got to know Jesus. “He opened my eyes about how God pursues you constantly over and over again, and how He never gives up on you. He doesn’t turn His back on you even if you turn your back on Him. This is when I hunkered down and decided to follow Jesus. I knew I wanted something deeper.”

Robertshaw has been blown away with David and Devon’s newfound leadership. “At our Windy Gap fall weekend, they brought eight guys from their football team and even helped lead the cabin times. Before the trip, the group called themselves ‘the brothers’ and came back wanting to adopt even more brothers! “Beyond that they’ve shown interest in doing work crew, David is looking into being a Capernaum buddy and Devon is leading middle school boys at his church.” The twins and their leader still smile when they think about the night this whole adventure began. “During one of the club talks at camp,” Robertshaw said, “the speaker emphasized how important first impressions are. Devon and David immediately looked at me and we all just burst out laughing!”

He opened my eyes about how God pursues you constantly over and over again, and how He never gives up on you. He doesn’t turn His back on you even if you turn your back on Him.”

NOAH AND CALEB

Zach with Noah (left) and Caleb.

Unlike David and Devon, twins Noah and Caleb have only known one home — the house they grew up in in Boise, Idaho. That is until they found their “second home” 20 minutes away at Boise State University (BSU), a place teeming with family, both old and new. The “old” family consisted of their cousins, Zach and Emily, whom the twins had known all their lives; the “new” family would soon develop in the form of Zach and Emily’s friends. Zach, two years older than Noah, Caleb and Emily, had been laying the groundwork for the cousins’ reception since his own arrival at BSU. From practically their first few minutes, Zach and his many friends showered the twins with warmth and acceptance.

Adopting More Brothers By the fall of 2017, David and Devon began to share what they had found with those around them. “Since I’ve started following Jesus, my life has really turned around,” David said. “I’ve begun to take interest in my friends, my family and my football team. I want them to see what God has done for me so they can hear the message I’ve heard and have it change their lives the way it’s changed ours. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, ‘Wow, I would be lost without Young Life and the messages I’ve been hearing.’”

Continued on the next page.

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Continued from the previous page.

Brothers Noah and Caleb prepare for one of their last high school races.

“I told all my friends and roommates that Noah and Caleb were coming,” said Zach. “They were great at reaching out and befriending them.” “Right away,” Caleb said, “all of Zach’s roommates were like, ‘What’s up, Caleb? What’s up, Noah? We’ve always wanted to meet you guys!’” The brothers soon discovered this was more than just a random “welcome wagon” … this was a strong contingent from Young Life College at BSU, a community that’s now grown to over 200 students. “The folks in Young Life College had heard about us for two years,” Caleb said. “We didn’t know Young Life, but Young Life knew us.”

Open It was an important introduction for the brothers, as each tried to discern what to make out of the college experience. Noah, a successful runner on BSU’s track team, was immersed in demands and responsibilities right away. The Young Life College community was a critical part of his transition into college. “The pressures associated with being a college athlete are significant, and having friends and caring adults who love you for who you are, rather than your physical abilities spoke loudly to Noah,” said Bill Overton, the interim Young Life College director at BSU. Between his studies and track, Noah’s obligations always gave him “a reason not to go” to Young Life College, but once he started coming to club, he was sold. He began sharing about the experience with his brother. “As twins we’ve always been close, but we weren’t super open with each other,” Caleb said. “After getting involved in Young Life College, Noah started to open up to me, and by second semester I started going. “What made me like Young Life so much? I’m a big family person and I’ve always loved

21

socializing and creating relationships with tons of people, and there’s all these amazing people here!”

This Thing Called Faith Beyond the social aspect, however, was the spiritual attraction. Noah and Caleb knew of their cousins’ faith, but now they understood how relevant it could be in their own lives. “My family has always been praying for them,” Zach said. “When they came to BSU, I talked to them about my experiences at Young Life camp — serving on work crew, being a boat driver on summer staff and interning at Malibu. After hearing that, they wanted to go on summer staff, and I said, ‘Well you need this thing called faith.’ They were like, ‘What?’” Throughout the semester, Zach continued to unpack that statement with Noah and Caleb, answering their questions and walking alongside them as they processed all they were learning in Young Life College. “Zach was strong in his faith,” Noah said. “He, Emily and Bill were a great help; I learned how to get to know God better through them.” “One day Noah and I talked about life over burgers,” Zach said, “and he mentioned that he went for a run and started by saying, ‘OK, God, let’s do this …’ He talked about wanting to follow God and I said, ‘Let’s pray right now and do that.’ It was a thrilling moment.” “I knew God was there before, but I never really talked to Him,” Noah said. “I never put in the effort to; I wanted to, but I didn’t know how and I was afraid; every time I tried to pray, I didn’t feel like there was anything happening. “But now the more I talk to Him and get to know Him, the better I get with trials that come my way. The more I live my life through God, the more my life flows.” None of this was lost on Caleb, Zach said. “Caleb saw the changes in Noah, and slowly but surely, he also came to realize how much he needed God.” “It just felt so right, so amazing,” Caleb said. “Hearing how God worked in Noah’s life and all these other people’s lives. When I prayed, everything started to change.” Today Caleb and Noah share more than just an identical outward appearance and other qualities twins often have in common; they share a spiritual brotherhood in the faith they’ll carry side by side for the rest of their days. Caleb smiled, “It makes me super happy to know my twin brother whom I love so much is going through this life-changing experience just like me.”  

The folks in Young Life College had heard about us for two years ... We didn’t know Young Life, but Young Life knew us.”


YOUNG LIFE SPOKEN HERE

YOUNG LIFE’S MISSION IN

MONGOLIA When thinking of Young Life in this primarily Buddhist country, the word that instantly comes to mind is restoration. Launched in 2000, the ministry quickly took off. Just two years later, however, a tragic van accident took the lives of the national director and several volunteers and critically injured a number of local staff members. Ministry was dramatically reduced and the future unclear. However, we serve a God of redemption and restoration, who carefully and gracefully rebuilt the ministry. Today, Young Life Mongolia is thriving, with over 1,000 kids known and prayed for by name. Nearly half of the entire country’s population lives in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, where Young Life is reaching kids in college, high school and middle school. Capernaum ministry in Mongolia is making a huge difference in the lives of kids with disabilities. These kids now have the opportunity to attend camp, where they’re able to participate, have fun and learn how to trust in the Lord to overcome adversity. At summer camp this year, more than 300 kids heard the gospel and 200 made the commitment to follow Christ. The Asia Pacific Division celebrates with the committed, resilient leaders in Ulaanbaatar and we invite you to join in our joy! Please pray for continued growth and provision for Young Life Mongolia.

EST. 2000

Ulaanbaatar

BY THE NUMBERS

71

Volunteers

13

Staff/DGL leaders

1,281 Kids reached

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HOLY LAND

Walk in the footsteps of Jesus and see Scripture come alive as you visit the Holy Land but with Young Life flavor. Engage with Young Life leaders in Israel and Palestine who walk alongside teenagers in their own neighborhoods. First-timers February 14-23, 2019 Second-timers February 25-March 3, 2019

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Relationships Spring 2018  

Relationships is a publication of Young Life, a mission devoted to introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their fa...

Relationships Spring 2018  

Relationships is a publication of Young Life, a mission devoted to introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their fa...

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