(just some rambling)
Young Life has been a part of my life since the summer of 1994. I had heard about it some before that but as a church kid I was too judgemental about the kids it attracted. You know, the partiers or the bad kids or the ones that needed Jesus more. I didn't realize that as a church kid I needed Jesus just as much, if not more.
As I think back I'm not sure how it happened, but at the time my youth leader and friend, Laurel, was dating the YL staff person of N. Myrtle Beach. Maybe on a whim, I'm not sure, I ended up on a van with other kids from the N. Myrtle Beach area headed to Windy Gap for a week. That week changed my life. My parents had gotten divorced, I was at a new high school and didn't know many people, and I was trying to live out my faith. Church had always been a refuge for me and there were people there who loved me in spite of my obnoxiousness. I am so thankful for those people who lived out love and grace in my life. This week at Young Life camp was different. What I needed to hear/get from God that week I did: He would never leave me and He loved me a whole bunch. By the end of the week I knew that I wanted to be a part of this thing called Young Life. I knew that I wanted to tell others about Jesus and figured YL would be a place to start. Laurel picked me up at the end of the week and we drove late at night from Weaverville to Charlotte, stopping at Waffle House for a break. It was so cool to go to waffle house back then. I made some great friends that week. I heard great music from Ed Cash (who I learned was also from Charlotte). And I felt a calling that week too.
I got plugged into YL my junior and senior years. I returned to summer camp the following summer at Frontier for another amazing week. My faith deepened and so did my friendships. I learned more about what it meant to follow Christ in high school. When I started at UNCC I knew I wanted to be a YL leader, but there wasn't a good fit for me in Charlotte. I was also working and going to school full-time. In the summer of 1999 I spent a month at Frontier doing Summer Staff and that is where I saw the need to get plugged into a community at home. By January 2000 I was leading YL in Cabarrus County at Northwest Cabarrus HS and was a part of a really fun leadership of other college kids from Davidson. Those were some of the best years. I continued to feel God calling me to Young Life. After spending an extra year with "my girls" from NW I went on staff in Louisiana. Spent two hard and really good years there doing YL. Met my husband. Made some lifelong friends. Grew in my faith and ministry. I left staff in 2004 and taught Pre-K. I only made it two years before God called me back to Young Life. In the fall of 2006 I became the Regional Administrator for the then Charlotte Region and started leading at Country Day. Since then our Region has grown and changed names to the Carolinas Region.
This past weekend we had our 3rd Annual Regional Leader/Committee Weekend. This year it was in N. Myrtle Beach. There have been folks there for the past year praying for YL to come to the Grand Strand area. It was cool to be back there and think about how if it wasn't for YL being there in the early 90's I may not have gone to camp that summer. Somehow the ministry died down there, but with lots of prayer it looks like we will get it started again soon. That is exciting for me. These weekends are pure work for me but I also get a front row seat at some pretty cool things. It is so encouraging to see 400+ staff, leaders and committee crowded into the House of Blues singing worship music. If you've ever been to a House of Blues, it's far from a place of worship. But on this weekend that is exactly what it became. I got to see Ed Cash perform again just like (well, better) in high school. One of my YL leaders was there b/c the guy who wants to get YL started was in my YL club in high school. The weekend was exhausting and extremely encouraging as I think about my own ministry at Country Day. It was cool to hear about other connections; the speaker was at camp the summer the music guy was there as a camper at a time in his life when he was really struggling and needing Jesus. Young Life can be a small world and it always amazes me to see how God makes the connections and orchestrates all the details so that we can encounter Him, whether we are a struggling teen, a leader hanging out with kids, a committee person praying for YL to come to their local school, or a spouse of a YL staff. I am thankful to be a part of something big and small that God is doing through Young Life.
I am also thankful to be back in Charlotte doing YL. Working for this region I get to see ministry continue in Cabarrus Co where I first became a leader and I get to see the re-birth of ministry in the place that my involvement first began. I think that is pretty cool and I'm so thankful for the glimpses of all that God is doing in and around me.