High-schoolers flood the stairs, pushing and shoving to get down as fast as possible. The bass is booming, strobe lights flashing, and kids are wildly jumping up and down. Controlled chaos seems to be the best descriptor for what’s taking place. But really, what’s going on? Did someone just eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with that girl’s feet?
Every week over forty Grove City (and a few Slippery Rock) students sacrifice a considerable amount of their time to hang out and build relationships with high school, middle school, and special needs students all over Mercer County. Why? They believe in the ministry of Young Life, an organization whose mission statement is “introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. ”
As a whole YoungLife, an international organization, has a few different components – YoungLife is a ministry for high school students, Wyldlife is for middle schoolers (a fitting title), and Capernaum is for kids with special needs.
To help you understand basically what Young life does as a whole, they broke it into four ‘C’s’:
- Club – where kids go nuts, can be themselves, and hear about Jesus
- Campaigners – going more in depth about what a relationship with Jesus looks like
- Contact Work – leaders hanging out and building relationships with kids
- Camp – the best week of your life
After the initial craziness of club described above, everyone quiets down and listens intently to a leader share about this guy Jesus. Some kids who won’t step foot in or go near a church sit enraptured for ten minutes, some hearing for the first time about the God of the universe who loves them so much he sent his only son to die for them.
This is the reason you’ll find Young Life leaders in the student sections at high school football games, at tennis matches, or even tutoring middle-schoolers in math. Not because of the crazy songs sung, hilarious skits, or borderline stomach revolting games, but because the leaders desperately want to make a difference in the lives of kids in Mercer County by building life-long relationships, but also by showing them who Jesus is.
Senior Tierney Kearns, a WyldLife leader in Sharon, PA (half an hour west of Grove City) shared with me one of her most memorable moments as a leader:
“One day I was doing contact work at the school, and I was talking to one of the girls that regularly hung out with us (came to club, campaigners, etc). She stopped to talk to me but was in a hurry because she said some girl from school told her she was going to beat her up. I told her to run home and not to stop until she got there. As she sprinted out of the school another girl whom I had never met before walked right up to me. She asked if I was just talking to “that girl.” I clearly had been, so I replied with a yes. She proceeded to tell me using some colorful words that she indeed was the girl who was going to beat my friend up, and proceeded to try to intimidate me into telling her where she went. Needless to say standing in front of an angry middle-schooler who was bigger than me was not something I had ever anticipated. My response? Logically, bribe her with ice cream. I don’t know how it worked, but I told her if she didn’t beat my friend up I would buy her ice cream. Three days later I bought her ice cream, one week later she came to WyldLife club, and two years later I brought her to WyldLife camp where she sat across from me at a picnic table and started a relationship with Jesus.”
This is also Tierney’s response when I asked her if it’s worth it to be a leader:
“Some days it doesn’t seem that way: middle school kids are loud, smelly, and dramatic. But they are also at an age where even though they don’t appear to like it, they listen and observe during club, and it shapes them. Middle schoolers ask questions you haven’t even thought of, and they haven’t mastered “faking it” quite yet so you see them in their most organic state. I have seen God work more in the time of being a WyldLife leader than any other time in my life. Not only have I seen kids go from death to life, but I have learned and grown in my own walk with Christ. I have broken down, been challenged and emptied, but I have been built up, comforted, and filled even more.”
But as either an incoming Freshman or current student, why should you consider becoming a leader? If any of the following apply, being a YoungLife (or Wyldlife or Capernaum) leader at Grove City may just be up your alley:
- You may already be familiar with YoungLife from participating in high school
- You want to make a difference in the community surrounding Grove City
- You want to share the love of Christ with lost kids and make a difference during your four years in college
Becoming a YoungLife leader at Grove City High School has been one of the most impactful and best decisions I have made during my four years at Grove City, and I hope you take a little bit of your time to learn more about this awesome ministry!