Young Life Lite

14 Fall Dew the Gospel.jpg
Brian Klos teaches honors geometry, and advanced placement stats and calculus at Southridge High School in Kennewick, Wash., where he also leads Young Life. Once a week, 30 to 40 Campaigner guys show up at the house he shares with two friends. Once a month, Campaigner girls join them and the number of high school kids at his house swells to 70. Although a student took the time to describe Klos on Rate My Teacher as a hilarious guy and the most unique teacher he’d ever had, kids aren’t coming to his house to talk calculus.

And they’re not always coming to talk Jesus, either. At least not at first. Klos sweetens and caffeinates the deal with an offer of free Mountain Dew for all comers. (The original flavor, although Voltage Blue Raspberry is popular when he can find it, and Baja Blast is a hot new release.) 

“It wasn’t like Campaigners revolved around Mountain Dew,” said Caleb Osborne, a former Campaigner kid and current Young Life leader and junior at Eastern Washington University, “but Mountain Dew definitely sealed the deal for many of my friends. They would hear ‘free Mountain Dew’ and they’d be there.”

That offer still stands — which helps to explain why panDEWmonium is likely to break out at Brian Klos’s home at least once a week and for a couple of all-nighters during Christmas break. It explains a garage refrigerator stocked with the stuff once promised to ”tickle your innards,” 50 empty cans on Thursday mornings and text messages from high school kids alerting Klos to the best deals on Mountain Dew. (The record for cans consumed by one guy in one night is 18 — a 12-pack and six more for good measure.)

One of Klos’s housemates is Ryan Orozco, a mechanical engineer who has witnessed these gatherings for five years. “Nothing surprises me anymore when I walk out of my room Wednesday nights,” says Orozco, “from teenage guys wailing on the piano singing at the top of their lungs, to impromptu dubstep dance parties, to foam sword fights in the front yard. I often shake my head and smile and secretly fight the urge to join in.”

Klos has been building bridges of friendship out of aluminum cans for 10 years. Housemate Orozco said, “Watching a new guy’s eyes light up when the kids show him the Mountain Dew fridge is priceless. It’s almost like once they are holding a green can they know they belong.” Eventually, the guys who come to Campaigners for free Mountain Dew keep coming because of that sense of belonging and conversation that satisfies a deeper thirst. Osborne was one of those guys who started hanging out at Klos’s house for the gaming (video consoles in various rooms of the house) and the endless supply of “zero-proof moonshine.” As a leader he now sees that God used these “lowly things” for His greater purpose. According to Osborne, “He chooses a simple thing like Mountain Dew to bring high school students into an environment where they are safe and can get to know the story of Jesus and what He did for them.” Asked why he uses Mountain Dew to bring kids to Jesus, Klos says, “After all that Jesus has done for me, I know He also wants me to ‘Dew unto others.’”