From the Grapevine

Already Amazing

We recently took Red Hook [a neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York City] Young Life kids to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus in Brooklyn. A lot of the kids had never been to the circus before (and neither had I!). I was captivated by the trapeze stunts, the tightrope walkers, the elephants’ tricks and a man shot  out of a canon. The name of the show was “Built to Amaze” and boy did it ever!

Some of the stunts were not as amazing as the others, so we didn’t cheer. We sat there, waiting to be impressed. It made me think about some of the teens I serve here in Red Hook and how much pressure they feel to be impressive. They desperately want to be liked or cheered on by their peers. Most find their self-worth in what their friends think about them. Or, how many “likes” they get on Facebook and Instagram. They put on their “suits,” “do a couple of tricks” and are dying for someone to affirm them, love them, notice them. And, if we’re honest, so do we. We forget how amazing we are to God!

All of this leads me to Rayquan. Last night at McDonald’s, Rayquan asked for prayer. When I asked what he’d like me to pray for him he said, with tears welling up in his eyes,  “Pray that I don’t grow up to be a bum; pray that I’m not nothing when I grow up, that I make something out of my life.” Immediately I became aware of how unworthy he feels of love and connection and how little hope he has for his life.

So, Luke, one of our leaders, and I prayed for him, hoping he would find his worth in God. I want him to know his true worth. I want him to know how much God loves and values him — so much that He gave His Son up to die for him. I want him to know he wasn’t “built to amaze” but was created and is amazing already!

– Genevieve Smith 


Giving Her Everything

I met Tasha in 2011 when our newly formed Capernaum team launched our first club [in Grove City, Pa.]. We quickly exchanged numbers, and after months of phone calls and hanging out, became “sisters forever.” For quite some time I’ve been taking Tasha to church with me. She loves the music and often copies down the sermon’s PowerPoint notes onto scrap sheets of paper tucked away in her worn Bible.

One particular Sunday, Tasha had her purse with her, which was slightly unusual. She comes from a family with very little, so it’s rare for her to have any money on our shopping trips and McDonald’s runs.
When it came time for offering, I knew I had money in my wallet, but thought

to myself, “I may need that for gas or snacks this week, so I better keep it in there.” Without overthinking it, I passed the offering plate on to Tasha, who immediately took out her wallet. I noticed she had three dollars with her. After she took one out to give to her boyfriend to put in the offering plate and then put in another herself, she passed the offering plate on, without a word. Had I just seen what I thought I’d seen?

Then it hit me. The story of the widow’s offering in the Bible. “Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.’” (Mark 12:41-44, NIV)

I was incredibly humbled. Here I was, with plenty, holding onto what I had for my own selfish pleasures. Two dollars to me would be nothing, yet two dollars to her was everything. She wasn’t following my example, since I hadn’t given an offering. My sweet friend Tasha, who had very little, gave everything out of her love for the Lord. Oh, I can just imagine the huge smile on Jesus’ face that day.

This is just one of countless stories of how the Lord has taught me through this girl — and through all the girls with disabilities the Lord has called me to love. If meeting these girls was the only reason He brought me to Grove City College and called me to serve as a Young Life leader, then it was worth everything!

– Kristen Wolfe


Caution: Leading May Become Habit Forming

When three women from Gig Harbor, Wash., answered the call to help with the WyldLife clubs at their daughters’ middle schools eight years ago, none of them expected their ministry would continue for nearly a decade.

When Debbie Hendrickson learned of the need she was happy to meet it so her daughter Emma and other kids could have the benefit of WyldLife. But following Emma and her friends all the way through high school never even crossed her mind.

“I kind of felt, well, I’ll do this for the time being,” Hendrickson said. “But I got involved with the girls, you start developing a relationship with the group, and I just decided I would make a commitment to be with them through graduating.”

Soon after Hendrickson was getting her feet wet as a leader at Emma’s middle school, Karen Sbory joined her as a leader. At the same time, Kelly Shea was making the same decision at a different middle school. When the middle schools where the trio had led WyldLife fed into the same high school, they merged the two groups meeting for Bible study into one. All three women were driven by the desire to connect with their own daughters and to make sure they received spiritual encouragement through some tough years.

Along the way, the three made a sweet discovery — there were dozens of other girls who needed the same thing, and as WyldLife and Young Life leaders they had the opportunity to pour into some 25 different young women. And through those seven years, their relationships with their daughters and the other girls grew through countless coffee dates and a Wednesday night Campaigner group so set in stone that the girls would lead it themselves on the rare occasion when the leaders had to miss.

“You get into it kind of selfishly, thinking, ‘I want to be involved with my own daughter,’” Shea said. “And you get 20 daughters.”

After doing life together through their high school years, the girls graduated in 2012 and went off for college or other experiences to places as far flung as Paris and Italy. And just when Hendrickson, Shea and Sbory could have put their feet up and relaxed after so many years of faithfulness, they sensed another need.

With the girls off at college, the three women have started a monthly meeting just for the moms of their former Campaigners. The women meet to talk about how their daughters are doing and to support each other in their new stage of life. In February they collaborated to make care packages for all the girls.

“It’s been a blessing to build relationships with them,” Sbory said. “It will be interesting to see where it all leads, but I think people are getting closer.”

First to their own daughters, then to a whole group of daughters, and now to the mothers of college girls — these three women are evidence that giving your life away for the kingdom can become habit forming.

– Bethany Bradsher​