Mondays are the best days of my week. Are you surprised? It’s true. My Mondays are for pie in the face and belly-laughing. My Mondays are rich with authenticity and raw with vulnerability. My Mondays cultivate community and foster relationships. My Mondays are for Young Life.
Some may consider Young Life to be a Christian ministry made up of volunteers who organize activities for middle school, high school and college students. But really, Young Life is so much more than an outlet to get community service hours. This ministry has radically changed the way I understand God and interact with people.
My story with this ministry began before I was even born, when my parents both accepted Christ through Young Life as high school students. They then graduated and became leaders themselves, which is how they met each other years later at a Young Life event. Naturally, I grew up knowing about, and interacting with the ministry regularly. For as long as I can remember, Young Life has been a part of my life, and Monday nights have been full of the best kind of chaos. I am now a leader at a local high school in Eugene, Oregon, where I have the opportunity to know and love the sweetest and most hilariously sassy high school girls to ever walk the earth.
At its core, Young Life desires to give every adolescent the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. We do this by aiming to teach and emulate Jesus and His principles in a way that makes sense to teenagers. High School is a crazy place. It is full of self-discovery, exploration and a whole lot of drama. But no matter what is going on at school, with friends or at home, Jesus wants these students to know that He is with them through it all, and desires a relationship with them.
Just like God gives us the choice of whether or not to follow Him, I don’t try to force the high school girls I know to follow God. I do, however, show up at their prom, support them at their recitals, and help them fill out job applications. I care for them where they are, as they are, and I spend time with them—no strings attached. Beyond faith, these high school girls need direction and genuine relationships in their lives. I get to be a positive role model that listens to them and supports them, while demonstrating security, care and consistency. I want them to know that I will love them regardless of their beliefs.
Throughout the school year Young Life hosts hangouts on Monday nights where students can come to let loose and have fun. We play games, sing the latest hit songs, put on funny skits and talk about Jesus in a way that is understandable and relatable. During the summer, we go to Summer Camp at one of Young Life’s beautiful properties that exist all over the world. It is there that they will experience the best week of their life—money back guaranteed.
I have been challenged and stretched by this ministry, and by God’s grace I have learned and grown. Young Life introduced me to some of my closest friends, and has given me mentors who have helped shape me to be the woman I am today. Volunteering for Young Life has brought me incredible joy, and given me a glimpse of the holy community that God has prepared for us in heaven.