From the Fall 2009 issue of Relationships magazine.
Hall monitors keep a wary eye as 2,300 kids eat their lunches across four intervals at Henderson County Senior High in Henderson, Ky. For Area Director Chris Dillbeck, it's the perfect time to introduce his new leaders to contact work. "I tell my leaders the Lord has a group of kids with your name on it," Dillbeck said.
With a new school principal, as well as a host of teachers new to the faculty, Dillbeck started the school year facing a school staff unfamiliar with Young Life, suspicious of strangers lurking in their hallways.
"Every year, teachers challenge me," Dillbeck said. "We start off wearing name badges and visitor tags, but by the end [of the year], most of the staff recognize why we're there."
The challenge failed to deter Dillbeck's newest leader: 47-year-old Steve Treece. Dillbeck and Treece spotted a group of black-clothed alternative kids hovering around a table outside. Treece recalls that Dillbeck prompted, "Why don't you go out there and start a conversation with those guys?" He felt a little scared, but Treece summoned his courage, and marched outside to introduce himself. Dillbeck quickly found a school administrator and showed him Treece's encounter.
Later that afternoon, Dillbeck received an e-mail from the administrator. Many of the teachers who monitor the lunch periods were away for training that day. The vice principal had expressed some concern, and asked the administrator if he needed more help. "We're all right," the administrator assured her, "Young Life is here."
Treece has remained connected to some of the kids he met that day, and remembers that first encounter as a watershed event. "Some weeks it's hard, other weeks it's like the Young Life tagline says, 'You were made for this,'" he said. "You ask yourself where God wants you to be and, for me, this is exactly where He wants me to be."
Over the past year, the school administration has learned that it has a new partner. "That is what we want to be in schools," said Dillbeck, "where the school identifies us as being a valuable part of the community."