Livin’ a YoungLife

This October, my friends and I sat on the bleachers watching the Viking football game like most Friday nights in the fall. Boredom began to strike while the scoreboard remained unchanged and time passed slowly. Then, we were suddenly approached by a girl. She immediately sparked conversation after conversation with us, adding some much needed pep to our average night. (I later learned was a YoungLife leader). I appreciated the fact that she didn’t just come out and say that she was a leader or try to smooth talk us into going, like some entrepreneur opening a new business would have. She took the time to get to know us before talking about what YoungLife was and by the end of the night, we exchanged numbers and that’s where the journey began.

YoungLife is a program that begins with dedicated young adults who genuinely want to take the time to support, befriend, and teach the word of God to kids worldwide. Locally it takes place at Life Church behind JoAnn’s every Monday night at 7:29 for Bryan High students, and I am very grateful to have it in my life.

Every now and then we’ve noticed older-looking, college age people walking around the Silver Cafeteria at lunches. Typically passing out their colorful, inviting flyers and bouncing around socially to every table, attempting to spark conversation with high school students. These are local YoungLife leaders. Let’s be honest, how many of us have given a cold shoulder or not even given them the chance to speak about why they’re here on campus? I was one of those kids, wondering ‘what undergraduates [would] possibly want with a student like me?’ That is until I actually took the time to socialize with them and realized that their mission and love for all ages of students is something amazing, and my perception of them was changed.

Every Monday and Friday after that, I saw more leaders around the courtyard and cafeteria at lunch, whom I never really noticed before. I became more open to the idea of letting these people into my life and seeing what YoungLife was really about. It took some convincing and many ‘so are you coming to club tonight?’ before I actually did. And I’ll admit, I was pretty skeptical and hesitant, but then I took a chance and decided to go with a few good friends.

It was around 7:29 on a Monday night, the time I was told to arrive, when we pulled into the parking lot. I immediately noticed plenty of students that I had never thought would be there. All were enjoying themselves on a shockingly cold Texas night, with smiles, laughs and pure enjoyment on their faces. We soon reached a group of familiar faces where we were welcomed, introduced, and embraced with open arms by the leaders, marking a great start to the fun-filled evening.

After some time passed, we all rushed into the building where good music was blasting, people were dancing, lights were flashing, and great times were being had. The leaders acted in funny skits, everyone sang songs, continued busting a move on the dance floor, and watched YouTube videos. Once we all calmed down, the mood smoothly shifted, and it was time for the word of God- a topic I was a little apprehensive about, as most teens are. I had never really been taught the teachings and stories of the Bible, or at least not in a way that I could relate or understand them in church, but this time was different.

I was able to truly listen and soak in what the leader was saying. He discussed deep topics in ways that we could actually understand, rather than preaching directly at us, sternly talking about how sinful our behavior is and to change our irresponsible ways. He made us feel comfortable with our issues and assured us that everyone makes mistakes, but that we can always be forgiven.

I left that night happy and with a strong sense of purpose, and I’ve since made it a priority of mine to continue going. The love that is shared in that church building is like no other, and everyone is encouraged to be open and share their stories, heartaches, and pains with the leaders that are there to help and support students. Giving struggling teens a chance to release their burdens in a healthy, beneficial way to people who so deeply care about all you have to say.

The decision I made to go to club has to be one of the best I’ve made in a long time. It’s a decision I finally got right and I truly feel that YoungLife has changed me for the better. The friendships I have created with the leaders are some of my very favorites, and I know the lasting memories will continue to be made.

If you’re a student looking for true friends, happy times, great lessons, and support for your struggles, take this chance. Afterall, Monday’s are a drag, so why not let YoungLife spice it up?