From the Grapevine

Something to Cheer About

Young Life leader Emma Collie met Katie before her freshman year of high school at the high school’s cheerleading tryouts. She was full of energy and spunk. Katie was invited to fall weekend that year and had a great time. The next summer she went to camp and accepted Christ. Slowly her life began to change. Her friends knew something was different about Katie, her family knew it too. She became involved in a local church and brought her parents. She brought her brother to the young adults’ service. She brought her brother’s friends who were staying with them for the summer. Then, the summer before her senior year, she brought almost the entire cheerleading squad to camp.

“Throughout her senior year, she was an incredible witness,” Collie said. “As a captain, she prayed for the team all season. She decorated her parking space in the senior parking lot with a Bible verse. Friends, teachers, custodians and strangers have all commented on it. Not a week goes by that I didn’t hear a story of her sharing her faith.”

The story doesn’t end with Katie. Her faith has changed her family as well, Collie said. “Katie’s father hired my husband to work for him. We’ve had a front-row seat to see the ways his faith has impacted how he deals with coworkers and other business situations. And Katie’s mother has opened their home to anything and everything — club, Campaigners, Christmas parties.

“Katie’s been an incredible leader and is admired by her peers,” Collie said. “She sets an example with her life and will continue to be a witness in college. She’d definitely be an incredible Young Life leader some day.”

Close to the Heart

Brittanie reluctantly began coming to club because her boyfriend kept nagging her and she finally accepted just to get him off her back. She ended up loving the atmosphere, and connected with a Young Life leader. So when it came time to sign up for camp, she hardly needed any convincing to go.

During her week at camp, Brittanie was asked her thoughts on what she was hearing about Jesus each day at club. One day she explained that she had always believed in God, but He seemed so out there — and would point to the sky. As the week continued, she sensed God becoming nearer to her, until one day she told her Young Life leader that it felt like He was here — and pointed to a spot right next to her.

Brittanie received a Bible at camp to commemorate the decision for Christ, and has been the first to show almost every Wednesday morning for Campaigners. She’s also joined her area’s Student Leadership program and is the first to arrive and the last to leave. “Brittanie is a shining example of how intoxicating life with Christ can be,” said Lindsey Eckberg, Young Life staff in Whitefish, Mt. “She’s not trying to prove anything. She’s not working for her salvation. She’s simply so excited to live a life with divine purpose and meaning, and she can’t help but want to serve and learn more about the great Love of her life.”

Leading from the Heart

Teen pregnancy, gang violence, family troubles. As kids in Pueblo, Colo., face life’s ups and downs, their Young Life leaders have been there. Dan Larson, the area director in Pueblo, recalls these recent instances when Young Life leaders were the first people kids turned to:

  • When 17-year-old Ana gave birth to her baby and wanted to show the world her son, she sent a text message within an hour — with a picture — to her Young Life leader.

  • When Alex’s best friend needed a prayer the night he was stabbed in a fight and landed in intensive care, he called his Young Life leader.

  • When Alicia’s sister died way too soon, her family wanted someone special to officiate a very hard service. They asked their Young Life leader.

  • When Amanda (a foster child with a 2-year-old son) had no way on her own to buy a soccer uniform, she asked her Young Life leader.

  • When a 19-year-old teen mother of two kids found out she was pregnant and needed to talk to someone about putting the child up for adoption, she asked her Young Life leader.

  • When Carlee wanted to find a way to challenge her faith this summer, she asked her Young Life leader.

  • When life simply gets crazy, when life needs more, when life is confusing — our leaders for Young Life, WyldLife and Young Lives are there, providing hope through friendships.

Special Treatment

One of the greatest things about Young Life camp is that it levels the social “playing field.” At home kids are often categorized, ostracized, ignored and underestimated. But at camp, all that changes.

Just ask Kate. At 15, Kate is always acutely aware of how different she is from her peers. Because of her dwarfism, her height is a constant reminder of how separate she usually feels from everyone. But during her week at camp, Kate felt like a different person. When Kate got home from camp, she wrote her leader, Blake, to thank her for the memorable week:

I want to thank you for the best week of my life. This week meant more to me then just good rides and funny acts. First, if you have ever been in public with me, you’ve seen how kids and adults point, stare and laugh. Even people I know talk to me like I am 2! God knew I was getting to my wit’s end with it all, even though I never complained — not even to my parents — about it. So God sent me to camp where I was treated like every other kid there! I wasn’t treated like I was 2, and the horrible looks were gone! When I went horseback riding and go-carting it all was set up just for me. That just blew me away! I am so thankful for all that you did to make that happen. This week I also found God! At camp I was thinking about people in my family who were sick and struggling. It all scared me so much. I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own and I knew I had to accept God into my heart. So I did! So, Blake, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.