Lasting a Lifetime

Angie Dutchess remembers exactly where she was sitting six years ago in the club room of Breakaway Lodge, a Young Life camp in Oregon, where, as a seventh-grader, she decided that looking cool was more important than a relationship with Christ. It wasn’t long before she realized she’d made the wrong choice.
“I didn’t like the talks,” the Hockinson, Wash., teenager said.  “When I heard the word ‘God,’ I’d just turn off.”
Angie also remembers watching other middle schoolers at camp at the end of that week stand up during Say-So to announce their new commitment to Christ. “I remember Say-So and thought it was stupid and embarrassing,” she said. “But then I saw the kind of kids who were standing up — the kids I thought were really cool — and I realized it didn’t have to be embarrassing. That moment turned my mindset around.”
Angie didn’t accept Christ that summer, but she decided to give WyldLife another chance. “When we got back home, I got more involved in WyldLife. We went to Wildhorse Canyon the summer after eighth grade, and that’s when I made my decision to accept Christ.” This is the decision all Young Life staff hope for with their kids.
For Angie, her decision to follow Christ marks the beginning of the influence she would have on many other teenagers.
A starting point
Once a shy sixth-grader who was too self-conscious about her 4’6” height to even go to WyldLife club, now the 18-year-old boldly reaches out to her peers. Though still short in stature, her faith is thriving thanks to Young Life leaders committed to her spiritual growth.
Robb and Emilie Schreiber are the co-area directors of Clark County, Wash. Emilie has known Angie since 1999 when she was her leader during a weekend camp. “Angie is a very sweet, non-threatening person,” Emilie said. “People feel comfortable with her. She’s persistent yet loving — that’s why Young Life is the perfect fit for her. It built in her a vision and really called out the evangelist in her.”
To Angie, Emilie’s friendship has been life-changing. “I’m really close to Emilie,” Angie said. “We are a lot alike. She is someone I can look up to. Emilie is always there to be a positive role model and help me along.”
Angie spent her eighth-grade year learning about Christ and building relationships with her leaders. Her freshman year, she attended high school away from her middle school friends. She knew no one, but at least had a starting point: Young Life. 
“In ninth grade, I was the new kid at my school,” Angie said. “The only thing I knew was Young Life. So I started inviting kids to club with me. At first, I just wanted them to go to help me make friends. But later it became my passion to show them Christ.”
Growing up, reaching out
Robb and his wife have been serving in Clark County for the past seven years. He remembers the friends Angie brought to club and how their lives began to change as well.
“It was her freshman year in high school when she really got it,” Robb said. “Angie understood that Young Life and club were not just for her. She caught the vision and really had a heart for her friends. Cacey was one friend in particular. Angie invited her to club for weeks, but [Cacey] always said she was too busy.”
One night Cacey showed up and brought with her every Young Life flyer Angie had given her — about 20 in all. She signed up for camp that night, and that summer she accepted Christ as her Savior.
“I thought, ‘This is awesome!’” Angie said. “Cacey had a hard home life, so I loved seeing her so happy. It was so neat to see how God could use me to impact someone’s life like that.”
Robb also remembers Angie’s sophomore year, when she and Cacey gave their friend Danielle a special Christmas gift. “Angie and Cacey gave Danielle a big Christmas card, and in it was her $50 deposit for camp,” Robb said. “All year, they helped Danielle do fundraising to raise the money to go to camp. That summer at Wildhorse Canyon, Danielle accepted Christ. Today, Danielle is a WyldLife leader.
“Angie just has this continual vision of outreach,” Robb said. “She reaches out to her friends and helps them grow in their faith. That’s one of the biggest things I appreciate about Angie. She wants to serve and sees her involvement in Young Life as a way to be used by God.”
For teens like Angie who have been involved in Young Life since middle school, Robb offers a leadership training program to help them grow in their faith and reach out to others (see Keeping the Faith sidebar). During their junior year, Young Life kids train to become WyldLife leaders.
Angie knew that was the next step for her. “I always thought my high school leaders were really cool, and I really looked up to them. So I prayed about it and decided that was the next step. I wanted to give back what was given to me. And it’s been awesome.”
Angie’s sister, Carley, is 15 years old and also became a Christian through WyldLife. Angie has loved watching her sister experience the same thing she did in middle school. And since their parents aren’t Christians, their bond in Christ has even more significance for her.
“[My parents] view my faith as a sport; it’s important to me but not necessarily important to them. It’s hard, but I think God put me in my family for a reason. My sister and I can be a light to my parents.”
‘It never gets old’
Last summer, Angie went back to Wildhorse Canyon as one of the leaders for a group of ninth-grade girls. She has been their leader since they were in sixth grade.
“I love doing it,” she said of her camp experience. “My very favorite thing is cabin time with kids. I love being vulnerable with them and showing them Christ. And, it’s fun to be able to say, ‘When I was your age …’”
She also spent a month at Breakaway and shared her personal story with the middle schoolers there for WyldLife camp. She knew they were feeling the same things she was seven years ago.
“When I shared my testimony, I pointed to the place I was sitting when I came the first time,” she said. “I talked about how I was in the same position they are, and I encouraged them to get involved and understand more about having a relationship with Christ. I told them that when I was on the bus coming home from Breakaway, there was a kid I thought was really cool sitting there, and he said, ‘Look at this cool book I got. I can’t wait to read it when I get home!’ It was the Bible. I told them not to be ashamed of their faith.”
Angie’s next step is a global one. In January 2005, she plans to board a ship and embark on a two-year mission trip around the world with Operation Mobilization. The mission team will go to the continents of Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia where they will use written material, face-to-face contact and acts of service to spread the Gospel.
As her leader and friend, Emilie loves seeing how God uses Angie not just in her Young Life ministry, but in all aspects of her life. “Angie’s been working at Chuck E. Cheese’s this summer, and she takes people she works with to her church every Sunday,” Emilie said. “She understands that Jesus wants a relationship with every single person. She gets that. She has kingdom vision.”
Young Life prepared her to move further down the path in her walk with Christ, Angie said. And she knows her journey is just beginning. “I’m sure Young Life will follow me for most of my life,” she said with a smile. “I know how much it means to have someone there saying they care about you. It’s never tiring to hear that. Building relationships with people and leading them to Christ never gets old.”

Keeping the Faith

Leadership opportunities motivate kids with long-time involvement in Young Life.
With a growing number of middle school WyldLife clubs on the mission’s landscape, a student beginning sixth grade could be a part of Young Life and Campaigners for as many as seven years. That’s nearly 600 hours of song-singing, organized chaos!
There is a higher purpose behind the skits, songs and talks delivered each week. The hope is that kids become as passionate about Christ as their leaders are, and then pass it on.
Area Director Robb Schreiber created a leadership training program designed to equip and train high school kids in his club to multiply the Young Life ministry in Clark County, Wash.
“We wanted to prevent the ‘same old, same old’ from happening in our area, so we created student leadership,” Schreiber said. “This is something on top of Campaigners where we instill in them a leadership vision.”
The first step is in eighth grade when, as a part of the leadership team, kids are given responsibilities including organizing skits and games for WyldLife club. The training continues until their junior year of high school when they begin to move into a volunteer leader role for a WyldLife club. In many cases, a high school Young Life leader could disciple the same group of middle schoolers from sixth through eighth grade.
“At the high school level, there is a push to ‘own’ [club],” he said. “We challenge the seniors to be more intentional. They have a key role in the lives of their friends and their school.”
Schreiber said Angie Dutchess’ life exemplifies the discipleship model he hopes to see more of. “We want [kids] to reproduce themselves and make disciples. Angie is an example of that. As a WyldLife leader, Angie reproduces herself at the middle school level and helps her girls in club get plugged into church. It’s been a legitimate criticism in Young Life that we’ve had difficulty helping kids get into a church and grow over the long haul. This is a great example of the cycle and pattern we’d like to see.”