Alumni in Action - Curtis Powell

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In a recent “Stay Connected” video designed for the college-aged crowd and created by the office of Alumni and Friends, we make a fairly bold

 statement by stating that staying connected to Young Life long-term is in an individual’s best interests, and that doing so might actually have an impact on a person finding happiness, success and fulfillment in life.

 

For Young Life Alumnus Curtis Powell, this was true before, during and after college. In fact, when asked what he would tell a person contemplating whether staying connected to Young Life has value, Curtis responded, “I would say yes. A big YES!”

 

Curtis was first introduced to Young Life during his sophomore year of high school in Lynden, Wash. In his own words, Curtis says that at a time in his life when he was a little dissatisfied with church and authority in general, his Young Life leader, “Neil Parker, walked into our cafeteria, pursued a relationship with me, and ended up fostering a discipling relationship through high school, which transformed my wobbly faith.” Based on an invitation from Neil, Curtis began to attend club, went to camp the following summer at Washington Family Ranch, was involved in a Campaigners group with what he calls a “rag-tag group of guys,” and became a student leader.

 

All of this led Curtis to the opportunity of a lifetime, as he was given the chance to serve on work crew at Malibu Club in Canada. According to Curtis, “My job was working in the deep pits, washing the big kitchen dishes by hand. It wasn't the job I wanted, but definitely the job I needed. As a popular guy in high school who was often out in front of his peers, it did me well to stay in the back and serve where no one could see.” During this time, Curtis says he learned the following five lessons. “1) It's not about me. 2) In God's kingdom, we rise by descending. 3) Life is less about what happens to us and more about how we respond. 4) Say ‘yes’ to opportunities of community and adventure. 5) Say ‘no’ to food fights in the dining hall; they'll get you in trouble.” Along with these life lessons, during this time on work crew, Curtis met Ty. Ty had a disability, and according to Curtis, “his approach to life taught me a lot about playing well the cards you are dealt.” These lessons and this God-ordained friendship with Ty influenced Curtis significantly and accompanied him as he transitioned to college and headed east to Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash.

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Due in part to his involvement with Young Life, Curtis received the Heritage Scholarship, which enabled him to attend Whitworth and be a Peace Studies major while minoring in theology, leadership studies, and community engagement and transformation. During his junior year, Curtis began volunteering with Young Life Capernaum, our ministry to kids with disabilities. About this season of ministry, Curtis reflects, “Serving with Capernaum was another example of God's inverted economy. As part of Young Life, we are often searching out those on the margins, and the young adults I hung out with through Capernaum were definitely marginalized in our culture. However, the uncompromising joy and authenticity of my friends in Capernaum reflected Jesus to me louder than any theology class I was taking at the time.”

 

Upon college graduation, transition was once again in front of Curtis and his wife, Alicia. Curtis was heading to Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., to pursue a master’s in Counseling. Creighton was a community where the newlyweds knew no one. Once again, the value of staying connected to Young Life showed itself, as Curtis reached out to the office of Young Life Alumni and Friends and was connected with Young Life staff person, Lamar Pringle. During this season of life, Curtis was too busy with studies and internships to volunteer with Young Life; however, in Curtis’ words, “Young Lifeleaders pointed my wife and me to our church community in North Omaha, which was huge for our spiritual and relational health while in Omaha.”

 

Following a year in Omaha, Curtis and Alicia were off again! This time, the destination would bethe Dominican Republic to serve with Doulos Discovery School — a Christian, expeditionary learning, dual-language school, where Alicia is the third grade teacher and Curtis is the school’s guidance counselor and basketball coach. And, guess what? The Powell’s connection to Young Life is still serving them and others in the Dominican Republic. In Curtis’ words, “Our school founders originally came down here as part of Young Life staff, so there is a large partnership between Doulos and the local area. I volunteer with WyldLife while helping out with Young Life camps up at Pico Escondido (Young Life camp). I have a Campaigners group made up of mostly guys from my basketball team. I was on the program team for our Young Life camp this past November and helped lead a cabin of guys I’d taught at Doulos the year before that.”

 

From Lynden, Wash., to the Dominican Republic, Curtis has both served and been served by Young Life based on an ongoing connection to the mission. When asked if he would recommend that a young person stay connected to the mission, his answer was “A big YES,” and he summed up his experience in the following paragraph:

To use my life as an example, Young Life provided my most meaningful discipleship, friends group, and experiences throughout high school. My involvement in high school pointed me to Whitworth and actually enabled me to afford the school. The Young Life leadership development class connected me with a solid peer group in college as well as continued discipleship from Whitworth faculty and staff. My work crew experience with Ty pointed me toward Capernaum. All of these experiences pointed me toward continuing a degree in Counseling. You (office of Alumni and Friends) pointed me toward my faith community and peer group at Creighton. My Young Life involvement was part of the process in finding Doulos and being hired on as the guidance counselor. Lastly, my time with WyldLife provides some of the richest opportunities to reflect Christ and build meaningful friendships with middle-schoolers here in Jarabacoa. In each phase of life, Young Life helped build me up through discipleship and community, while allowing me opportunities to connect and serve.

Curtis and Alicia, thank you for your ongoing involvement with the Young Life mission. We are delighted that you have chosen to stay connected to Young Life over the years, and we are proud to call you our own! If you would like to learn more about the many ways you can stay connected to Young Life and serve, or if you have a story similar to Curtis’ to share, please email us at alumni@sc.younglife.org.