It’s easy to be discouraged about teenagers by looking at the headlines. Depression and suicide rates are on the rise. Church attendance rates are dropping and too many teenagers enter college and abandon their faith. It’s easy to be alarmed and wonder how the next generation is going to choose to follow Jesus.
Right here in Bellevue are 35 adults investing time and energy to introduce teenagers to Jesus and help them grow in faith. Those 35 adults are Young Life (YL) leaders living out the Great Commission: going directly to middle and high school kids and “sharing not only the Gospel of God but (their) very lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Over the last 2 years, a YL leader Greg has been invested in the life of Russ, a high school sophomore. They met at a Young Life summer camp where Russ attended with quite a few of his friends. At camp, there’s always a lot of fun and adventure during the day and a message of Christ every night. And Russ was a challenge for Greg. He wasn’t interested in hearing about Jesus and even made fun of the kids who were. Russ’ attitude made it almost impossible for Greg to have real, authentic conversations with the others in the cabin because Russ mocked anyone for any ideas or thoughts they expressed. Greg was discouraged and felt like a horrible leader. Camp ended and Russ’ attitude hadn’t changed. For Greg, it seemed like a wasted week.
But Greg stayed with it. He continued a friendship with Russ. He went to Russ’ basketball games, texted Russ to check-in and then, invited Russ to bible studies. Slowly, Greg started to earn Russ’ respect. Russ didn’t attend many things Greg invited him to, but he saw Greg keep showing up in his life. Without pushing or being annoying, Greg just stayed consistent.
This last summer, Russ went to Young Life camp again. Greg was excited to have Russ back but was hesitant to have him in his cabin. He didn’t want a repeat of two summers ago and he didn’t want the week ruined.
This time, Russ was a different person. Because of the hard-earned friendship, when Greg talked, Russ listened. When Greg asked questions, Russ responded. When Greg asked Russ to be respectful of others, Russ was. Before the week was over, Russ decided to follow Jesus. Because of God’s grace and Greg’s consistent caring, it was a huge first step in a faith journey for a challenged teenager.
Young Life works when a leader shows up in the life of a teenager, sharing not only the gospel but their very lives as well. Whether at Camp, a monthly Club gathering, a Campaigner group bible study, or a kids’ basketball game….Young Life leaders just keep showing up.
Thank you to all at BelPres who, by your support of our staff and our leaders, allow us to keep “showing up” in the lives of teenagers, bringing them the hope of Jesus Christ that can change lives forever.
We are grateful!
Scott Didrickson, Area Director