From the President

For the past three years, as a prelude to our 75th anniversary, we have been investing time and energy in the creation of a history book that captures Young Life over eight decades. We began Year 75 on Oct. 16 and that day released Made for This: The Young Life Story. One overriding truth that struck me as I helped with the edit of the book and reflected on what I was reading was this: Young Life works.

At the heart of why Young Life works is that the Lord deserves all the credit. He is the One who calls all people to Himself. He is the One who goes before us, behind us, around us, with us. He is the One who wins the battles; not us.

But, in His providence, He gave our founder an approach to kids that was revolutionary when we started in 1941. Going where kids are ... winning the right to be heard ... remembering “it is a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel” … walking in wisdom to them that are without (Colossians 4:5), encouraging healthy relationships with adults who care … using humor, music, adventure and hospitality ... developing a world-class camping program ... sticking with kids even when they don’t respond to the Gospel ... these are just a few of the trademarks of our mission.

I’ve concluded that Young Life works in many ways:

Young Life works across time. The kids in our first club in Gainesville, Texas, were in the middle of World War II. Many of the seniors who graduated from Club 37 (that’s what Jim called the first club in Dallas, because “who would want to go to Club #1?”) went directly to war. The relationship they formed with Jesus Christ while in Young Life helped sustain them in that epic conflict. Young Life not only survived but thrived through the turbulent ’60s and after. And even though our country and culture has changed, we’re still seeing millions of kids reached today.

Young Life works with every kind of kid — with our middle school, high school and college-age friends. In urban settings, suburban places and rural areas. With kids in all kinds of situations. We have probably the largest outreach ministry to kids with special needs through our Capernaum ministry. We are on the brink of impacting 20,000 unmarried teen moms and their children through YoungLives. We are ministering to and with kids who are Hispanic, African-American, Anglo, Pacific Islanders, Asian, Native American and indigenous Alaskans. Isn’t it amazing that a relational, incarnational outreach focused on Jesus can impact “every kid, everywhere, for eternity”?

Young Life works across cultures. We are now in over 95 countries. I’ve had the privilege of traveling throughout the world and meeting our staff, leaders and kids. I’ve experienced firsthand camps, clubs and Campaigners across the world, and I’m amazed at how adolescents are so similar, with the same needs and desires.

Young Life works through local committees and boards. The ownership of adults, their support and love for our staff and volunteer leaders, and their commitment to keep Young Life in their community no matter what, is a game changer. Young Life, because it works, attracts people like you who are generous with their time and their money.

I will be forever grateful that I’ve been able to lead a mission so committed to Christ and to adolescents. A mission whose specific focus is introducing kids to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. A mission that works with two million kids each year and gives these young people the opportunity to say “Yes” to Jesus.