Sunday, June 29, 2014

Young Life -- You Were Made For This!

About six years ago, my family got involved with Young Life, a Christian organization focused on middle schoolers (WyldLife), high schoolers (Young Life), college students (Young Life College), special needs teens and adults (Capernaum), and unwed mothers (YoungLives). 

My daughter Kelsey was in 9th grade and got invited to a Young Life meeting, or as they call it, Club. In our town, Club is held each Monday night for an hour in the homes of different teens. The leaders of the event are college students who want to share their love of God and be role models for high school students. The kids sing, play games, laugh and hear a testimony or message from one of the college students. It's a great way for teens to enjoy learning about faith and to see that it's ok for them to be a Christian if these really cool college students are one, too.

In addition to Club, Young Life also sponsors week-long camps during the summer. These camps are located in several states in the US but are also in many other countries. These camps are FUN for all involved. Singing, games, sharing and learning about the life of Jesus are all included. Camp is pretty expensive, but scholarships and fundraising events are available for those who may need it. If a person truly wants to go, he or she will not be left out.

When Kelsey moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida, she continued her participation in Young Life through YL College. As a college senior and a YL leader, she befriends younger college students, takes them to college events as well as Club, goes camping with them and shares her knowledge of the Bible. As a mom, I'm so pleased that she has continued with this organization and has found friends focusing on God and not on partying. 

A group of YL College students at Pioneer Plunge, a camping event, in North Carolina in May 2014.

Young Life has also played a huge role in my son Drew's life. Drew is 27 and has Down syndrome. In 2009, a college student at FSU started a Young Life Capernaum group, the branch of YL for special needs young people, in Tallahassee, Florida. In the Bible, Capernaum is the name of the town where Jesus heals a paralyzed man. The story, found in Mathew, Mark and Luke, states that the house in which Jesus was preaching was so crowded that four men had to lower the paralyzed man through a hole in the roof. Jesus was so pleased with their faith that he healed the paralyzed man. 

An artist's depiction of Jesus healing 
the paralyzed man at Capernaum.
This has nothing to do with 
YL Capernaum but it 
reminds me of the old felt
boards in Sunday school classes. 
Maybe I'll include a whole post on 
felt boards. :-)

The description of Capernaum on the YL website says, "Young people with disabilities -- like their able-bodied peers -- have hopes and dreams, needs and fears; but, many of them feel isolated and have no one to share their struggles with and no one to encourage them and help them be all God designed them to be. Young Life Capernaum gives kids and young adults with disabilities the chance to have fun, make friends, develop self-esteem and begin a relationship with Jesus Christ." 

Our chapter of Capernaum does so much more than this description. These leaders truly care about the people who participate. Drew works at a cafeteria at FSU, and several of his FSU student leaders arrange to eat lunch with him weekly. The original rule of Capernaum is the age limit for participation is 25. When most of our original group turned 25, our leaders felt that the age limit should be extended and did it for our local group. When the older guys couldn't go to camp because of the 21-year-old limit, the leaders decided to take them to discipleship camp, or work week, where they helped prepare the camp for the upcoming season. 

Michael, Cameron & Drew at Southwind's
 work week 2014.
Drew and Kelsey at Southwind's
work week 2014. 

Some of the YL Capernaum groups from all over Florida at a weekend camp at Southwind in 2014.

If you want to see other wonderful events and camps that Young Life provides, you can check out their website:  Young Life. They are always open to donations, too. It's a worthwhile organization that helps many young people. Look for one in your area, or better yet, see how you can get involved.

You were made for this!