One Unforgettable Week

With ministry in more than 50 countries, Young Life’s heartbeat for kids echoes throughout the United States and around the world. And for one week in January that pulse reverberated — through prayer, worship and laughter — as 4,000 Young Life staff, volunteers and friends convened for four days at the Marriott World Center for the 2008 All Staff Conference.

Designed to be a time of renewal, rest and encouragement, ASC2008 brought together full-time field, camping, and Service Center staff and their spouses, as well as Young Life volunteers, members of the Board of Trustees and other friends of Young Life.

A day of fasting, prayer and reflection ushered in the conference. This memorable week was also packed with teaching and inspiration from special guest speakers (see list on this page). A talented band of musicians, brought together by singer/songwriter Mitch Dane, led worship throughout the week providing an excellent backdrop for all the celebrating at the conference — each day kids who’ve been influenced by Young Life shared their testimonies; a parade of flags from countries around the world commemorated the mission’s international scope; and former Young Life presidents, long-time staff and volunteers were honored for their roles in the mission.

Attendees were treated to a little extra fun and R&R at the nearby amusement parks; but perhaps what was most amusing was a tossup between special appearances by well-known comedian Jeff Foxworthy and, later in the week, popular zookeeper Jack Hanna. Foxworthy not only hosted a game of “Are You Smarter than a Young Life Senior Vice President?” but he also kept the audience in stitches with his stand-up routine. Hanna’s interactions with the ASC character “Ray Burn,” (a wannabe emcee/game show host donning an ill-fitted polyester suit) and Young Life President Denny Rydberg made for one really wild time.

And there were more surprises at every turn, including special performances by recording artists Jars of Clay, Brandon Heath and Nicole C. Mullins, as well as a special preview of the documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Just as a week of Young Life camp never ceases to “wow” kids, the conference delivered in treating staff to a week they’ll never forget. And not only did the conference encourage staff, and give them opportunities to rest and to play, but it also sent them home with the momentum needed to help keep the heart of the mission pounding for Jesus Christ and kids.

ASC2008 Guest Speakers

  • Dr. Dale Bruner, a retired Whitworth College professor, now a Fuller Theological Seminary professor and author, who also teaches Young Life staff training courses.

  • Dr. Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of the 11,000-member New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii.

  • Susan Hutchison, best known as a distinguished TV news anchor, she now directs the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences and is on Young Life’s Board of Trustees.

  • Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., and former Member of Young Life’s Board of Trustees.

  • Donald Miller, author of the New York Times bestseller Blue Like Jazz.

  • Rev. Earl Palmer, senior pastor of University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Wash., and a noted author and speaker.

Thoughts on ASC2008 ...

From seeing the smiles of the individuals as they walked through the welcome cheers to the final farewell, we realized that relationships are the heart and soul of Young Life. It has often been said Young Life camp is the best week of a kid’s life. I would equate ASC2008 to the best week of a staffer’s life. It was certainly one of the best weeks of our lives.

— Rusty and Carolyn Dunn
Committee Chairs in Lafayette, La.

We heard the comment in several arenas (during the conference) that our ministry and our life pour forth from our relationship with the Lord … I felt so loved and cared for knowing that Young Life cares deeply about my spiritual health and well being.

— Ellie Kielty
Administrative manager at Lake Champion

To pray and take communion with 4,000 brothers and sisters of faith, and to meet many incredible people and to share heart to heart over the course of the week is a highlight I continue to reflect on long after the conference has passed.

— Jeffrey Westbrook
Metro director in Minneapolis, Minn.