Field of Dreams

Earlier this year, I helped coach a junior varsity baseball team. One of our staff, Tate Johnston, invited me to come along on a beautiful spring day. I had a great time hitting to the infielders, playing a little shortstop and getting to know the guys.

This practice, however, wasn’t on the diamond of an American ball field. We were in Surrey, England, at one of the international schools where we do Young Life. And the kids weren’t your typical American baseball players. On Tate’s team are three Koreans, a couple of Japanese, a first baseman from Spain and a handful of kids who have U.S. roots but haven’t lived in the States for a while. This is typical of international schools, which are attended by kids whose parents are leaders in commerce and politics. Reaching out to these kids can influence the world’s leadership for the next generation.

Hundreds of these international schools are scattered throughout the world. Because Young Life is committed to “every kid, everywhere, for eternity,” we’re focused on reaching kids in international schools wherever we can.

But international school ministry is just one of three ways Young Life reaches kids around the world. We also minister to nationals in their countries. Our third approach is to reach military kids through our partnership with Military Community Youth Ministry (MCYM).

The big three
I had the pleasure of not only working with Tate and his wife, Brooke, when I was in Great Britain, but I also met with most of our United Kingdom staff and with all of our international regional directors under the leadership of our senior vice president for International, Donna Murphy, as part of the international leadership meeting.

I came away even more passionate about what we’re doing abroad. I am bullish about our international ministry. I believe that in the next decade our outreach to kids around the world will absolutely explode. The fields really are white for the harvest, and all we need is The Big Three — the prayers of God’s people, staff who are called to serve abroad and money.

We also need tender, loving care from individuals in the United States who can provide all kinds of support for our international staff. We may have the misconception that the life of a missionary is easy due to the modernization of many societies, the cheaper flights abroad and the use of cell phones and the Internet. Easy is not the word I would use.

Help from home
When our Young Life staff follow God’s call to international school ministry, to a work with nationals or to military outreach, they face a variety of challenges. Unlike most U.S. staff, they don’t have a local area committee to help them raise their support. They are responsible for raising 100 percent of their funding. And the funding needs can be greater than U.S. staff due to the additional requirements of travel, perhaps special schools for their kids and the fluctuating dollar. Despite cell phones and e-mail, they are still far from home and away from their families and friends.

In most cases, they are also pioneering the ministry from scratch. These great staffers are not coming to a place where Young Life has been in existence for years — where volunteers and committee members are ready and waiting to start. They are breaking ground, they are doing a startup, and it’s not easy.

But like all our staff in the mission — regardless of where they live — these pioneers are winsome men and women, filled with the Holy Spirit and called to serve. They would be greatly blessed if people like us living in the United States reached out to them in tangible and intangible ways. I’d like to suggest that we “adopt” a staff individual or couple and serve them by:
  • Getting to know them before they leave or after they’ve arrived.

  • Praying for them. They are engaged in intense spiritual battle, and they need our prayers.

  • Caring for them. Sending packages (almost every staff person I know has an item that they can’t get overseas — for Steve Larmey in Ethiopia, it’s Cocoa Puffs for his kids; for others, it’s a television program that could be taped and sent), giving them a call, remembering their birthdays and anniversaries.

  • Sharing with them. Letting them know about your family and your life so they can pray for you.

  • Giving financially to their ministry. Don’t let your giving to your local area in the United States suffer. Instead give to our international staff in addition to what you’re giving locally.
If we do these things, we will not only bless our staff and encourage them to continue their work, but we will also be blessed in the process. We will be partnering with some wonderful people in reaching kids around the world for Christ.

If you’d like to be a partner in this effort and adopt a staff person or two, send an e-mail to, and we’ll connect you with one of our great staff.