From the President

“But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” – 1 Corinthians 16:8-9

Great opportunities almost always involve great opposition. Paul knew this when he was writing to the believers at Corinth. He hoped to spend some time with them but that trip was going to be delayed. He was staying in Ephesus “because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

Opportunities and opposition. That was true of Paul’s life and true of ours. It’s also true for Young Life. But in the midst of the opportunity/opposition tension, God refines us, matures us, strengthens us, and causes us to rely and trust on Him.

Every time Marilyn and I have decided to make a change and follow God’s call to a new place or ministry, it seems like opposition has come. When we came to Young Life, we were energized by the opportunity to lead a group of dedicated staff and volunteers to reach hundreds of thousands of adolescents a year. We loved where we were. We felt appreciated and accepted. But we also felt God saying, “Come, follow me to Colorado and Young Life.” After being chosen by the Young Life Board, and before we arrived on the job, opposition surfaced. A couple of people didn’t think we deserved the position. (I agreed with them — no one deserves any position God gives him or her.) A few believed a person from outside Young Life could never learn the culture and do the job. One or two were very agitated and we felt like saying, “Who needs this! Thanks, but no thanks.” But some wise Board members and friends encouraged us to stand firm and we did. That was more than 15 years ago and we are so thankful that we didn’t let opposition dissuade us from pursuing the opportunity of this new call.

I’ve talked to other people who have faced the same sort of situation. When they walked through the open door, not everyone was glad to see them coming. Starting a new business venture, pursuing a new job where you sense God’s call, beginning a new outreach in the neighborhood, adopting a baby, returning to school after being away from academia, etc., lead to great opportunities and great opposition.

In Young Life, we have unlimited opportunities. The field is ripe for the harvest. The laborers are too few. But we face opposition in moving through these open doors. Some folks don’t want us to have access to the middle school or high school. In some countries, our staff and volunteers fly under the radar because of persecution. In addition, naysayers whine, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Or, “We can never raise that much money or recruit enough staff and volunteers.” Or, “We’ve tried to get to that school before and we just didn’t succeed.” Or, “Let’s just be content with where we are.” Great opportunities … great opposition.

If you are involved with Young Life locally, and I hope you are, I’d like you to help us walk through doors of opportunity and then overcome the opposition. And if you’re a member of the opposition, I’d like you to stop! Instead, let’s all encourage the staff and volunteers in our areas; let’s drown out the naysayers; let’s come up with creative solutions and make a difference. Let’s do that as well in our personal lives.