Young Life Lite

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When "Old" Meets "New."​

Why there’s no aging out of this Allen, Texas, Campaigners group!

On Monday nights a lively group of girls climbs into the SUV and carpools home from Campaigners. When not giggling hysterically, they’re continuing the conversation from the meeting or catching up on life. All in all, a pretty familiar scene wherever there’s Young Life.

What sets these Campaigners apart, however, is that the “girls” just happen to be 40- and 50-somethings!

For the past three years these moms of former Campaigners have been meeting just like their daughters used to, and for the same reason — to grow deeper in their faith. The only two differences: the ages and the name … they lovingly refer to their group as “Old Life.”

How do you start an Old Life group? You listen to the wisdom of a teenager, of course!

Matt and Randi Wideman had been Young Life volunteer leaders for 10 years when they sensed God calling them to something new. After the graduation of the Class of 2014 — kids the Widemans had worked with since they were freshmen in high school — Matt and Randi were ready to follow God into their next adventure ... whatever that might be.

That summer Randi took the newly graduated girls on a mission trip to Romania. It was here, Randi said, God began to unveil His plan.

“One of these sweet girls said, ‘Randi, I know what the Lord wants you to do next year.’

“I was like, ‘Great! Tell me, girl!’

‘You need to lead a Bible study for our moms.’

‘What?’

‘I know it’s crazy, but they’ve seen what Young Life has done in our lives and if you lead the study, they’d come to it.’

“I said, ‘Teenagers are my thing. Little kids are my thing. Grown women are really not my thing! That’s so far out of my comfort zone!’

‘Randi, just promise me you’ll pray about it.’”

At that moment Randi thought, “Thank you, Lord, for my Young Life kid being my Young Life leader right now.”

By summer’s end Randi was emailing the girls’ moms. “I said, ‘Here’s my heart, I don’t know if any of you are interested, but I would love it.’”

She quickly found out the interest level when more than 20 moms showed up that first night. “Some of these mamas had never opened a Bible before, so I started with the Gospel of Mark because I wanted them to really know who Jesus is and that He is so worth following.

“Every Monday night we’d meet and at 10:30, I’d start getting all these calls from the daughters in college, saying, ‘Randi, you won’t believe it. My mom called me after Old Life and we talked about the Lord! And what she’s learning! And the Bible!’”

As the moms grew in their relationships with Jesus, they grew closer to each other, too. The timing was significant, said Melissa Randolph, one of the moms. “God pulled us together at just the right time. That first year was tough for us; a dear friend in the group passed away from brain cancer and another mom lost her daughter.”

Randi said, “God was preparing the group for this moment so we could draw together as the Young Life family; the whole community had loved the daughter and now could love the mom.”

While they’ve shared tears, they’ve also shared plenty of joy, too. From celebrating their kids’ weddings, to the birth of grandchildren, to lake retreats to hilarious dinners, the ladies have graduated from simply attending Campaigners meetings to living life together.

“Women are not much different than teens,” Randi said. “At the heart of every person is the need to know the Creator. Even though life issues look a little different from 17 to 47 or 57, the heart issues are exactly the same. The gospel never changes and God’s truth is needed at every stage in every life. We all need Jesus”

“Some of us have been Christians for a long time,” Melissa said, “but seeing our kids’ fresh perspective and how they follow Jesus inspires us. That’s one thing I love about Old Life. Even though we’re older, we’re infused with this newness, this freshness of how Jesus serves, loves and lives, and asks the same of us. I’m just so thankful for all of it.”​