Family in Christ and Young Life

Young Life has always been about Jesus Christ and relationships. Oftentimes, in the midst of these relationships, people come to know Jesus Christ, and along with the eternal benefit of knowing Him, something as priceless as family develops.

Raoul and Susan Glenn of Greenville, S.C., have been part of the body of believers and part of the Young Life family for four and a half decades, beginning as high school students in different states.

Raoul, who grew up in Atlanta, was at a track meet at Sandy Springs High School when he first met Young Life leader Dick Gehron. He laughs at his initial reaction: “What’s wrong with this guy, hanging around a group of kids?” But Gehron was part of God’s plan for Raoul — he led Raoul to Christ, then mentored and discipled him for the next three years. When Gehron went to Charlotte, N.C., Raoul followed and worked under him for three years as a leader of the Young Life club at Garinger High School. Susan, who grew up in Greenville, was going into the 10th-grade with a challenge — she was sent to a new school. But, “it was God’s perfect plan, because that’s where they started Young Life.” The club was launched by Dave Wayner, a local home builder who was a friend of Susan’s father, and her father was a supporter of the new ministry.

Susan enjoyed the club and noticed that some of her friends changed after going to camp. The summer before her senior year, she went to camp. “I grew up in a church, believed in God and had wonderful parents, but I never heard the Gospel presented the way I did at Awanita,” she said of the Young Life-sponsored trip. “That night I gave my life to Christ.”

Later, while Susan was attending Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., most of her friends joined sororities while she abstained. She had one friend who was a Young Life leader at Myers Park High School, and she invited Susan to help. “I was a very young Christian, but I joined in,” she said.

The ride of their lives
Raoul and Susan met when the Charlotte clubs took kids to camp. Assigned to the same vehicle, they rode together guarding the back of a U-Haul truck filled with hay and energetic teens. Later, Susan served on the first summer staff at Windy Gap, Raoul on the second. The time at Windy Gap was especially meaningful, Raoul recalls, being part of the first Young Life camp built from the ground up, a beautiful property and a great place for teenagers, then and now.

When Raoul and Susan married in 1972, Dick Gehron performed the ceremonyThree years later, Tripp, their first of three sons, was born. Not long afterward, Susan’s father also became ill, and the Glenns decided to move to Susan’s hometown of Greenville. As their family continued to grow, so did their network of family in Christ. While they no longer worked as club leaders — Raoul was a real estate appraiser and Susan was a full-time mom — they stayed connected, both serving on the Young Life committee in Greenville.

When their oldest son, Tripp, was in ninth-grade, they were part of the effort to rebuild Young Life in Greenville. On a camping trip at Windy Gap, Tripp accepted Christ and began his spiritual walk. Their middle son, Lee, also became a Christian, and later worked as a Young Life leader while at Furman University. His experiences as a guide at Wilderness Ranch, the training, job challenges and leadership from Skeet Tingle cemented Lee’s desire to go on Young Life staff.

And just as his father had done, Lee met his wife in Young Life leadership. Lee met his wife, Christy, while they both were in leadership training at Furman. As a Young Life leader, Christy helped start Travelers Rest High School Young Life. She also served on summer staff as a lifeguard at Windy Gap.

Raoul and Susan’s youngest son, Will, who accepted Christ as a child, was involved in Young Life, as well as their church youth group. He worked at Wilderness Ranch, was on work crew at Crooked Creek and was a Young Life leader for three years during college. He graduated from college last spring and will intern at Frontier Ranch beginning in September 2007.

A Young Life family
Raoul, Susan and all three sons found or grew in Christ through the ministry of Young Life staff and volunteers, a network supported by committee members, community leaders, churches and family. “It goes back to my dad realizing, as a businessman in Greenville, that kids here needed Young Life,” Susan said. And in the decades since the 1960s when Raoul and Susan were first involved, the ministry in Greenville has touched the lives of thousands of kids — and the lives of their kids.

Skeeter Powell, the first area director in Greenville, now working with the Capernaum ministry, was instrumental in discipling the Glenns’ sons,Tripp and Lee. Charley Patten, who is now developing Young Life in western North Carolina, was a mentor to Will.

“It’s a Young Life family,” Susan said. “It has meant everything to us.” When Susan had breast cancer in 2000, the Greenville committee and extended Young Life family provided prayers and support. Sharing prayers and common experiences were longtime Young Life staffer Arnie Jacobs, who had worked with the ministry in Greenville in the 1950s, and his wife, Mary Lou, who was battling cancer at the same time as Susan.

Later, when Raoul had open heart surgery, many of the Young Life family came to the hospital to pray and provide support. Charley Patten came. Skeeter Powell came. “It was a wonderful picture of what Young Life is,” Susan said. Their son Lee, then still on staff and speaking at the Young Life banquet in Madison, Ga., changed the speech he had planned and described instead the example of the body of Christ that he had recently experienced at the hospital.

The ministry continues
Strong supporters of Young Life ministry and camp development across the country, Raoul and Susan Glenn are now seeing another generation of their family brought into the Young Life experience. Tripp and Meredith Glenn will take their 2-year-old daughter, Ellie, to family camp at Trail West next summer, Susan said.

“We’re still strong believers in Young Life,” Susan said. “We’ve never been around anyone else able to relate to kids so well and draw them in.”

“It’s fair to say that we’re living products of that,” Raoul added. “You win people to Christ in relationship. That was true for us, it was true for our kids and it’s true for everybody.”