Young Life Lite

In April 12, 2008, Vancouver, Wash., Young Life leaders Tori Truong and Kyle Sharpe exchanged their vows in the presence of 230 family members and friends. Two days later they repeated their vows in the presence of another crowd of witnesses. This time, the witnesses were high school students who were guests and participants in the Sharpes’ “Big Fat Young Life Wedding.”

The Sharpes became friends in college. When Kyle moved to the Vancouver area, Tori introduced him to Young Life and the kids who were so special to her. Kyle started going to club to help with the music, and eventually became a volunteer leader. During this time, Tori and Kyle’s friendship deepened.

When they decided to date, the kids were all for it, but the Sharpes knew this dating relationship couldn’t be casual. “Kyle and I decided that we would do this only with the intention of possibly getting married. We wanted the kids to see what a healthy relationship would look like, and knew how important it was for us to be a good example in their lives,” explained Tori.

Under the watchful eyes of hundreds of kids, Tori and Kyle’s relationship progressed from simple friendship to courtship, and then to their engagement. But when it came time to plan the wedding and work within the limits of a wedding budget, the Sharpes were stuck. “Kyle and I both fell in love with so many of the kids from our Young Life club that we really felt they should be part of our wedding,” Tori said. “They were there for everything: our friendship, our dating and our engagement. They were such an important part of our lives that they should be able to watch us tie the knot.”

One of their club kids offered a suggestion. “Why not throw a ‘big fat Young Life wedding’ for us kids, and then all your problems would be solved.” And they were.

On Monday, April 14, more than 100 kids, dressed in their snazziest clothes, turned out for a Big Fat Young Life Wedding — a themed club complete with bridal party, ring ceremony, food (baked by the kids), dancing and a talk about Jesus all rolled up into one. Kyle and Tori drew names for their five bridesmaids and groomsmen, ring bearer and flower girl. With dollar-store bouquets in hand, the bridesmaids and their groomsmen processed down the aisle. With a co-leader escorting her down the aisle, Tori made her way to her groom, who stood by Robb Schreiber, their area director and officiant for both wedding celebrations.

Schreiber said the kids were “so incredibly excited” about the wedding. Kids who hadn’t been to club in months showed up that night. What they witnessed was different from what most have seen portrayed on television or in film. “The Sharpes’ wedding wasn’t about having a magical Hollywood moment, but instead it was about the marriage that God had formed and how He would help them through all the days ahead,” said Schreiber.

Young Life leaders like the Sharpes know that the best club talks are lived out in the presence of watching kids, in twice-in-a-lifetime ceremonies and in the mundane moments of ordinary days. The kids’ reaction to the wedding only reaffirmed this for Kyle Sharpe who said, “It made me realize how important it is for Young Life leaders to be beacons of light for kids in all areas of life: relationships, academics, sports — you name it — God placed us in these kids’ lives for that reason, to be the light of Christ in all that we do.”