Young Life Lite

Rain on Saturday” is a pretty depressing forecast. Rank the days of the week you’d want precipitation, and Saturday is probably number seven on the list. Unless your name is Tori Noles, who’s been known to pray hard for rain on a weekend, and makes no apologies for it.

In the fall of 2015 the University of Richmond sophomore was eagerly anticipating the Young Life College weekend at Rockbridge; not just for herself, but for fellow sophomore, Taylor Pak. For months, she prayed Taylor would come to Rockbridge with her. When Tori invited her friend to go, Taylor sadly replied, “I can’t. I have a mandatory event for class that Saturday.”

Defeat is not in Tori’s dictionary. She calmly went to Taylor’s professor and politely asked if he would consider moving the event so her friend could come to Rockbridge and hear about Jesus.

The professor replied, “Well, because it might rain this weekend I may cancel the event.”

Challenge accepted. Tori and Young Life College staff associate Casey Doyle immediately began praying for a 100 percent chance of rain in Richmond that weekend!

“Honestly, I thought there is no way the event is going to be canceled,” Doyle admitted, “but I was so proud Tori took a huge risk and asked the professor.”

The determining factors may have been prayer and persistence, not precipitation. The day after her visit to the professor, Tori called Doyle. “The professor canceled the event … and Taylor’s coming to Rockbridge!”

The event — a group-bonding exercise at the school’s ropes course — could be held in the rain. Not ideal, but still possible. No matter. The decision was made on Tuesday — four days before the event would take place. (And in case you were wondering, it did in fact rain that Saturday.)

“How crazy is this?!” Doyle later reflected. “This whole story reminds me of Mark 2, where four men broke through the roof of a house to get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus, because Jesus matters and changes everything. Those friends had faith Jesus was going to do something about that man’s physical need. But Jesus surprised them and not only healed the man’s physical need, but his social need and more importantly his spiritual need.”

Taylor was equally stunned at Tori’s boldness. “I was touched. Tori and I were close but we weren’t nearly as close as we are now, so I was really moved. I thought, ‘Wow, this girl really wants me to come to this thing.’ Clearly, she cared so much about this camp and the fact she wanted me to go meant a lot to me.”

At Rockbridge, Tori continued to care for Taylor, helping her process the gospel Saturday night.

“Taylor and I sat outside in rocking chairs and talked about how empty she felt before the trip,” Tori said. “How school, accomplishments and the world’s definition of success had clouded her ability to remember what truly matters. We prayed together, cried together and laughed together. It was the first time I’ve been able to walk with one of my friends from death to life to the full, and it was the first time where I knew I had nothing to do with it, but saw it as the privilege that it truly was.”

“It was honestly a weekend I will never forget,” Taylor said. “Everyone was so happy and loving. I remember feeling so safe and I just sort of let my walls down and let myself become vulnerable.”

After the weekend, Taylor joined Tori in Doyle’s discipleship group, where she learned how to pursue Christ with her friends. “The group has really kept me centered,” Taylor said. “Alexa, Tori, Casey and Steph became my family. Knowing I have four people who really care and believe in me gives me the strength to take on the week. It’s revitalizing.”

So because of one friend’s determination, Taylor Pak has encountered the Savior. She’s living with a new purpose, a new hope and a new family.

You might say she’s right as rain.