Leaving a Legacy of Faith

Ashley Green ran to the front of the bus. Tears streaming down her face, she took the microphone and loudly announced, “I just received Jesus as my Savior.” The bus erupted into excitement and shouts of “whoo-hoo!” The girls who listened to Ashley talk with Kylee Prendes during the ride home from camp were trying to dry their cheeks and stop from sniffling. Through her own tears, Kylee beamed. She had just led Ashley to Christ.

“It’s a big deal!” said Maryia Fedorchenko, a leader from Las Vegas. “Ashley was the ‘hardest’ girl at camp. We almost sent her home twice for getting into trouble.” She continued, “We had the entire camp staff praying for her and all the leaders watching her.”

With God’s help, Kylee was able to talk with Ashley when no one else could. Their conversation led to the most important decision of Ashley’s life.

A life-changing move

A few months prior to camp, Ashley moved from the only home she had ever known in Atlanta to the strange city of Las Vegas. Going from a public school to a private one, leaving behind friends and family for her father’s new job, Ashley was frustrated and devastated.

Once in Las Vegas she quickly decided no one was worth her time. “I wasn’t nice to people and I didn’t try to make any friends — didn’t want to,” said Ashley. “I was rude to everyone, even my own family.” She couldn’t stay out of trouble and teetered on the edge of dangerous decisions.

When school ended, a teacher suggested to Ashley’s parents that they send her to Young Life camp, explaining it might “do Ashley some good.” They agreed and Ashley showed up at the bus the morning of the trip.

During the week she distanced herself, showed disregard for authority and caused as much trouble as she could. “Camp was about stuff I didn’t care about,” Ashley said. Or at least she thought at the time.

But God was at work in Ashley, using cabin times and club talks to soften her heart for the ride home. As the group boarded the bus and pulled out of camp, Kylee took a seat next to Ashley. Having seen her struggle, Kylee began asking about the week and Ashley’s impression of it.

Ashley opened up, sharing confusion and frustration. “I was angry with God and didn’t understand why He was making my life so painful,” said Ashley. “I couldn’t grasp how a God who supposedly loved me would make life so hard. I believed He didn’t care about me.”

Kylee had recently suffered a huge loss in her life and related to Ashley’s aching heart with gentleness and truth. “I told Ashley God cared for her more than she could imagine and that He wasn’t trying to hurt her, He was trying to get her to rely on Him so He could help her in difficult times,” said Kylee. Ashley was pierced by Kylee’s words. “I finally understood,” Ashley said. “God answered every question I had through Kylee.” Kylee took the initiative and asked Ashley if she wanted to pray with her to receive Christ right then and there on the bus. She excitedly agreed.

A divine plan

Twenty years earlier, Kylee’s dad, Henry Prendes, gave his life to Christ at a Young Life camp. For the first time everything made sense for the Las Vegas high school senior. He decided to follow Jesus, and spent his days sharing Christ’s amazing love.

After high school Prendes became a police officer. He made it his mission to tell the story of Jesus on the streets of Las Vegas. Through a coworker, Prendes met Dawn, his future wife, and led her to Christ. Dawn Prendes said, “I was seeking all my life and Henry got me there.”

With two daughters of his own, and seeing countless teens around him struggling, Prendes longed for every kid to know Christ. Never forgetting how he heard the Gospel, he decided to track down the nearest Young Life office.

Realizing Young Life was not in the immediate area, Prendes made plans to send his oldest daughter, Brooke, with a group of kids on another area’s camp trip. He stepped in as a trip leader. Not old enough to be a camper, Kylee, went along for the ride. Camp created enough excitement that Young Life was able to start club at the local middle and high school that fall. Prendes jumped in the mix, investing in kids and raising community support. Club took off and the following summer they filled their own buses for camp.

This time Kylee headed off as a WyldLife camper. Kylee too was struck by the message and followed in her dad’s footsteps, committing her life to Christ at camp. She said, “My dad told me the most important thing in life is to know Christ and to share Him with others. I was excited to tell him about my decision.”

As the school year rolled around, Kylee, an incoming freshman, joined Campaigners and went to club every week. She quickly grew in her faith and passion to share Christ, just as her dad taught her. Her life was full of joy. She couldn’t have known what was coming; no one could.

A kingdom impact

On Feb. 1, 2006, Henry Prendes prayed with his family, kissed them goodbye and headed off to work — just like any other day. Responding to a domestic violence call, Prendes was killed on the job when he was gunned down at pointblank range as he saved the life of another.

Prendes was well-known and loved in the community. Thousands attended his funeral — a major event that shook the city of Las Vegas to its core. There Dawn, Kylee and Brooke all spoke of Prendes’ desire for others to know Jesus. They each expressed a commitment to carry on his legacy, spreading the message of Christ through Young Life and by any means possible.

Through Prendes’ death, many have given their lives to Jesus and embraced the ministry. “Henry’s life and death have made an enormous impact for Young Life in Las Vegas,” said Charles Javier, an area staff person.

A ripple effect

Because of Prendes’ passion, Young Life is reaching hundreds of kids in Las Vegas — Kylee was one of them. Through his example, Kylee led Ashley to Christ.

It was the strength and love Kylee received from God in her father’s death that spoke to Ashley’s heart on the bus. It was the first (but probably not the last) time Kylee will lead another to the feet of Jesus. She has served on work crew at camp and is training to be a leader with WyldLife. Kylee has her heart set on faithfully sharing the Gospel as her father did — desiring to always be on fire for God.

Ashley, since standing at the front of the bus to joyfully announce her decision to follow Jesus, is filled with gratitude and feels like a new person. “I’ve changed,” said Ashley. “My mom has even remarked how different I am now.” This summer, she took five friends to camp, hoping they would discover the same amazing God she has, and embrace His divine rescue plan and saving grace. She also desires to become a Young Life leader and, like the faithful and winsome Henry Prendes and his daughter Kylee, to see more kids know the love of Jesus Christ.