Decades of Dedication

Through the work of attending meetings, planning banquets, praying for the ministry, hosting events — and many other things — members of local committees witness the impact of their involvement on generations of kids. For their faithful service, three couples have been given the Committee Member Award of Excellence.
 
John and Lorraine Hartsock
John Hartsock, of Fairfield, Va., claims that his 35 years as a school guidance counselor in Montgomery County, Md., was his avocation; his vocation is Young Life.
 
He and his wife, Lorraine, were the volunteer team leaders in a club and served on local, regional and missionwide committees. Now that they are retired, they spend some of their time transporting work crew and summer staff from the airport to camp and coordinate the Adult Guest Lodge at Rockbridge, a Young Life camp in Virginia.
 
John went to camp in Colorado and accepted Christ in June 1956. His camp speaker? Young Life Founder Jim Rayburn. He and his future bride attended club in their high school and continued their involvement over the years. Beginning in 1967, they were leaders for Kennedy High School and volunteered there for 10 years. Then they joined the committee. Since that time, they have seen many of their club and Campaigner kids go on to lead productive lives and ministries.
 
“John and Lorraine have been faithful prayer warriors in this area for more than 50 years,” said John Wagner, regional director of the Washington, D.C. Metro Region. “Hundreds of kids, including some current and former regional directors, had come to faith when they were younger because of John’s leadership. John is an incredible example to us all.”
 
John and Lois Heetderks
The Heetderks first learned about Young Life when they were invited to visit Frontier Ranch in Colorado. Soon after, Young Life began in the couple’s home state of Montana, where John was a family practice physician. When local Young Lifers organized a winter camp to be held at Montana State University in Bozeman, John was encouraged to bring some kids.
 
“Initially, I tried not to get involved,” he said. So he had his secretary go through his patient files and find the teenagers to call them and ask them to go. Sixteen out of 17 kids accepted his invitation. Of course, after the week was over, they all asked him, “We’re going to have a club too, aren’t we?” And so began their tenure as volunteer area directors for the next 15 years.
 
For a while, clubs rotated among the homes of kids. Then the couple moved to a larger house. “We built it with Young Life in mind,” Lorraine said. “We hosted many leadership and Campaigner meetings as well.”
 
Along with watching leaders and kids grow in their faith, they also reaped some spiritual benefits.
 
“I would never have missed those years,” John said. “They were the years of the most significant spiritual growth for me.”
 
John and Lorraine are helping start Young Life in Manhattan, Mont., where they now live.
 
“They help raise money, serve on committee and pray daily for Young Life and the staff,” Regional Director Dan Barnett said. “Though they are approaching their 80s, they continue to be enthusiastic about Young Life.”
 
“There have been many sacrifices, but it has been worth it,” Lorraine said. “Our own children caught the vision for ministry. It really is true that so much of Christianity is caught, rather than taught.”
 
Bruce and Karen Walker
The Walkers plunged into Young Life more than 17 years ago, when their kids were in high school.
 
“It’s not always been easy, but it’s been a blessing the whole time,” said Bruce, a high school teacher. “Young Life kind of grows on you ... and it becomes a way of life.”
 
One of the fondest memories for Bruce and his wife, Karen, during their involvement with Whatcom County Young Life has been houseboat camping. Before the days of Wildhorse Canyon, Young Life’s camp in Oregon, summer camp spots were too limited to include freshmen, so houseboats were home to a three-day camp on Lake Roosevelt, which also required an army of volunteers. Bruce always referred to himself as the “facilities manager,” otherwise known as the fix-it guy, once repairing some sound equipment with twist ties from bread bags.
 
These days, what the Walkers most enjoy doing as committee members is nurturing leaders. “We’ve been fortunate to see a lot of young men and women come in as young college sophomores, grow into mature Christians and go out into the world to impact an area much larger than the local high school,” Bruce said.
 
Neil Parker, senior area director in Lynden, Wash., said the Walkers have helped to transform the committee, especially during the two years that Bruce and Karen served as committee co-chairs.
 
“During their chairmanship, they helped the committee change from a primarily advisory group to a group that served the staff, the leaders and helped raise the budget,” he said. “In the last 13 years, Whatcom County has grown from five clubs with 24 leaders to 15 clubs and 80 leaders. Bruce and Karen have been one of the foundations that this ministry has been built on.”