From the President

If you don’t mind, I’d like to brag about our staff. Almost 3,200 of the greatest people you could ever meet.

As I write this article, I’ve been bouncing into staff. Field staff. Camp staff. Administrative staff in the field. And those who serve as divisional field leaders, department heads and Service Center personnel.

In mid-June, Marilyn and I led a group of 86 friends of Young Life on a trip in Europe. As part of that journey, we had the good fortune to meet six of our international staff and three volunteer leaders. Of these nine individuals, I didn’t really know seven of them well. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed us to spend time with them.

The first was a couple: Martin and Jane Hasik. They live in Prague, Czech Republic. Martin is a native Czech. His faith was strengthened and his call clarified when he hung out with another staff couple, Bill and Lori Gregory, who have invested years in international ministry. Jane is an American who moved to Lisbon, Portugal, to lead an international school ministry there. They met at a staff conference in Portugal, eventually married and are now serving as area directors. They are everything you’d want in Young Life leaders — passionate about Christ, in love with kids, strategic about how to reach them, funny, winsome. There were times when they were speaking that I sat almost dumbfounded by the fact that God has allowed me to lead a mission with such unbelievable people. And the best part of all this is that kids are meeting Christ, leaders are being recruited and developed and a country that was just a few years ago under Communist control will be different because Bill and Lori and Martin and Jane are there.

Focused on kids
The Hasiks brought with them another young couple — Mikey and Monica — who had been married one year and one day and are serving as volunteers alongside them. He’s a fireman; she works for a telephone company. Both love Jesus and are serving as volunteer leaders. They are like a lot of volunteer leaders in the United States. Their vocation is reaching kids through Young Life. Their avocation is their careers. They want to do well in both; they enjoy their coworkers but they know that seeing kids meet Christ and grow in their faith is what gives them a sense of purpose and destiny.

The other five we spent time with were at the same level. Dave and Kristy Martin are our regional directors in Europe. They have lived in Germany for 11 years and are currently in Munich. Their kids go to German schools, they speak fluent German, they are passionate about seeing the kids of Europe know Jesus. You are better for being with them. You catch the vision and want to make a difference in Europe. In Ostrava, another city in the Czech Republic, Al and Stacy Anderson are the area directors. They brought with them Peter, a high school student who is a WyldLife volunteer. (Yes, we have WyldLife all over the world, too.) Al is trained as an engineer. Young Life is his second career. He met Stacy at seminary and decided they wanted to make a difference with kids abroad. The kids in Ostrava won’t be the same because Al and Stacy left America and headed to Eastern Europe.

An all-star staff
Today at lunch, I ran into a new area director in Colorado Springs, Brian Congleton. He was on staff seven years ago. But after teaching school and working for a large company as an engineer, he’s back. He’s 33 years old, has a wife, a daughter and a son on the way. He wants to return to what was the most life-giving to him — sharing Christ with kids. I couldn’t be happier that Brian and Sundae, and others like them, are joining the team.

Several days ago, I was with a dozen or so from the Service Center in a luncheon thanking them for their outstanding contribution this year. Service Center employees may work with computers or process checks or handle insurance, but they know about Young Life and they care. They pray for staff and kids; many of them volunteer; they are as passionate about kids meeting Christ as anyone. What a group! And I haven’t begun to talk about the folks who make our camps world class. People who can’t wait for kids to get to camp, who are elated when they see and hear how many kids have met Christ.

A call to bless
For some reason, the Lord has seen fit to give us a team of people I would unabashedly call the brightest and the best. I am amazed and thankful at the same time for who has joined our mission. For the rookies, for the returnees and for those who have labored 10, 20, 30, 40 and, yes, in some cases, 50 years. We have been blessed with the A-team.

And as readers of Relationships, would you do me two favors? First, stop and thank the Lord for the staff we have. And then, bless a staff person in some practical way. A call. A note. Dinner at your house. Volunteering to baby-sit so they can get away. The use of your cabin for a week. In some way, let them know how much you appreciate who they are and what they do. There may be a little more than 3,100 staff but there are more than 195,000 of you who receive this magazine. If each of you picked a staff person or two to honor, can you imagine the impact?

Thanks for letting me brag a little. Praise for the people.