From the President: The Top 10 List

David Letterman has his "Top 10 List" which he presents each evening on his TV show. Why should he have all the fun? Let me present my Young Life Top 10 in this issue of Relationships. They may not be humorous like Letterman’s lists, but they are absolutely true and have eternal significance.

Number 10: I’m thankful that we now have a full-blown outreach ministry on college campuses. We have been working with college students for years but in the last few months we have officially begun Young Life College, a ministry that entails evangelism and discipleship plus leadership development on select college campuses. I’m thankful that our latest college ministry began at the University of Alabama in early February.

Number Nine: I’m thankful for the couple who gave $250,000 to our Fill the Bus initiative — a campaign to fill 100 buses this summer with high school students who wouldn’t be at camp without this effort. What is surprising about this couple is they knew very little about Young Life. What they do know is that we are about introducing kids to Christ and that’s what they’re about — so they saw their gift as a good fit. (By the way, we’re still raising funds for this endeavor. Let us know if you’d like to make a difference in funding the entire cost of camp for a busload of kids or more.)

Number Eight: I’m thankful for the new staff God continues to send our way. Every year I’m more and more amazed at the quality of these men and women. Recently I was at our New Staff Training event and was so blessed to be in the presence of more than 200 people God has called to the mission.

Number Seven: I’m thankful for the caliber of senior staff we have in Young Life. We have many staff in their 20s and 30s, so to have men and women who have been on staff 20 or 30 years or more provides us with the experience and perspective to guide younger staff. What a blend: the energy and fire of the younger staff combined with the savvy and passion of the wise veterans.

Number Six: I’m thankful for the 175,000 or so donors whom the Lord raises up each year to provide the financial resources for this mission. Our annual budget is in excess of $200 million a year. This includes all our areas, regions, divisions, camping, Service Center, etc. And each year, these friends of Young Life give more than they did the year before.

Number Five: I’m thankful that we are preparing for another camping season. I’m thankful that we have 21 camps (in operation). I’m thankful that almost every week in the summer they are filled to capacity. I’m thankful for our school year camping program and for the camps we rent and own internationally. I’m thankful that camping has been a key strategy throughout the history of Young Life and next summer we’ll have 45,000 to 50,000 kids at camp in the United States and another 15,000 or more internationally, plus all the work crew, summer staff, assigned team members, adult guests, etc.

Number Four: I’m thankful that we’re about all kinds of kids. Every Kid, Everywhere, For Eternity. Middle school, high school, college. Kids in the cities, suburbs and rural areas. Kids in the United States and in more than 50 other countries around the world. Kids who are able bodied and those with disabilities. Teen moms with kids. I’m thankful that we pursue kids who are lost and know it and kids who are lost and don’t know it. Kids who are lost and look like it. Kids who are lost and don’t. We love kids.

Number Three: I’m thankful for all our adult volunteers. Adults who serve as team leaders in the local high schools and middle schools. Adults who make up the area committee. Adults who pray weekly and daily for schools, communities and kids. I’m thankful for the vast army of adult volunteers who make this ministry possible.

Number Two: I’m thankful that what we do is still current and cross-cultural after all these years. We still go where kids are. We still win the right to be heard. We provide a caring adult who loves each young person unconditionally. We bring adventure and humor and fun and a listening ear, an open heart and a life-changing message.

Number One: I’m thankful that as Young Life moves into its 66th year of existence, we continue to be all about introducing kids to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. We are still focused on Jesus. He is absolutely central to all we do. We have not lost our focus, we have not lost the passion. From volunteers to young staff to veterans, Jesus is still all we are about.