Young Life Lite

In college towns across the United States, the weekend begins on Thursday. Usually after classes, but that’s not set in stone. And after midnight, a visit to the local Waffle House is the perfect remedy for what ails (or ales) you. One reviewer of a college campus Waffle House said you never know what will break out — “a serenade from a frat boy, or a fight,” or just “passed-out college students … in pajamas or dirty sweatpants.”

Who would want to work the graveyard shift at a 24-hour campus eatery, especially on the weekend?

Rachel Lee would. (But the Young Life guys in High Point, North Carolina, just call her Momma.)

Rachel met her boys just before her birthday during the storms of 2014. The sleet and snow that fell in early February were more than enough to paralyze the southern city. At 2:00 a.m., after officials had declared the following day a snow day, Young Life leader and High Point University student Craig Linder, two buddies and a high school friend decided to gather for some cheap eats. The guys enjoyed that early morning fellowship and the food Rachel served up so much, they decided to meet again at midnight on the following Thursday. Five gathered that time, and, again, their server was Rachel, a hard-working mother of four. Together, they began to wonder how their visits could allow them to serve the server.

“We began thinking about how hard it would be to work Thursday nights,” said Craig, “when there were drunk, inconsiderate college kids coming in.” That night they decided to “get to know Rachel and hear about her life.”

Over the following months, Thursday meetings at midnight continued. More and more guys joined the group. By the end of the school year, 10 were meeting regularly, and Rachel had become more than a server. She was now “Momma” to a group of guys who “prayed for her, rejoiced with her and even became Facebook friends!”

Momma remembers it this way: “When they first started coming, it was just four young men. After long talks, I told them I would be their mom away from Mom. They kept coming. And they brought more with them. My sons live in Texas, and I don’t get to visit with them. So I get mom hugs, and play around with them, like I would if I had my sons around.”

When the school year and Thursday nights at Waffle House resumed in the fall of 2014, Rachel was there. A group of high school guys had continued to gather during the summer even without their college-age leaders. That year, about 20 guys were meeting regularly, studying the Bible and “praying for the restaurant and the people in it.” They considered it an opportunity to show a different way of living college life.

On the second anniversary of meeting at Momma’s, a record number gathered. This time, they brought the food to the table, and Momma was their guest. At midnight on this Thursday in February, 33 guys presented Momma with a cake for her 40th birthday. Craig said they “sang loud and proud as we celebrated! God is so good!”

Momma agrees. “I just love these boys so much. They have always been so patient, polite, kind and they all know how to laugh along with me. I can tell them what I need prayer for. They light up my week!”

That’s the funny thing about Thursday nights at college-town Waffle Houses. You just never know what will break out.