Young Life was founded in 1941 with a simple mission; introduce adolescents to Jesus and help them grow in their faith. To this day, Young Life continues in that mission through a highly relational ministry strategy that focuses on reaching students where they are and building relationships with them. Young Life also uses tools like large group events, camps, and more to reach students. There are Young Life “Areas,” in more than 90 countries around the world, all aiming to bring kids to know Jesus while volunteer leaders help mentor them along the way.
This week, we’re focusing on Wilsonville, OR Young Life. Wilsonville YL has 21 volunteer leaders who remain active and involved in the lives of high school and middle school students by walking alongside them as they grow and mature. They are committed to their community and have a genuine desire to mentor and equip young people.
Despite their commitment and best efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic has left Young Life staff, leaders, and students in a tough spot. As isolation, loneliness, and anxiety are on the rise, it is crucial that our youth are surrounded by people that care about them. So the questions remain, how do you stay involved in these kid’s lives while still being safe? How do you facilitate the social interactions that kids need in the middle of a global pandemic? How do you stay true to your mission, when every tool that you used to complete the mission has been taken from you? Wilsonville YL has found answers to some of these questions as they have overcome the challenges of the last year. Hear from Wilsonville YL Staff as they highlight some of the innovative methods they used in order to remain present in the lives of the kids they care so deeply about:
“We have all faced hardships this past year, we recognize the immense challenges students [kids, grades 7-12] have faced and their need to find hope in Jesus. As we look at this, we know one thing stays true, we need to continue relational ministry in Wilsonville AND find new avenues to do so. Our leaders and staff have dreamed of unique and safe ideas to reach students. We started doing monthly drop offs with the hope of continuing to reach students where they are while staying safe. We’ve left survival kits, snacks, treats, devotionals, personal challenges and more. Our hope is that even if students can’t be together, we can still create unity. Also, we’ve slowly started gathering in small pods, where, on a consistent basis, students and leaders can safely be together, sharing life. This year, we have worked to bless the local churches, schools and teachers who are having to continually change their own rhythms. With a generous gift from a donor, we were able to gift every staff member at the school with a Starbucks gift card.
As we look ahead, we are excited to continue dreaming of new and creative ways to reach students around the Wilsonville community. Each and every one of our leaders is committed to connecting with students and helping point them back to their true identity in Christ. We all know of the many complex challenges faced in middle school and high school and our goal is to make sure none of them have to do it alone. We ask you to join us in prayer for our leaders as they look to continue to reach students relationally to point them to who Jesus is.”
Good Deeds Mortgage and Young Life go hand-in-hand. GDM owner and founder, Tim Wolsborn, met Christ through Young Life 36 years ago and has been involved ever since. He even served on Young Life staff for 4 years in Pullman, WA. GDM Loan Officer, Ben Herr, has been involved in Young Life for 41 years and served on YL staff for 25 of those years. That is why YL is Good Deeds Mortgage’s number one supported organization. We don’t just love Young Life, we live it, and we live it because we have seen lives changed, young people restored, and lifelong friendships built.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that young people have mentors that care about them and are committed to their wellbeing. Whether it’s Young Life, Cru, Safe Families, coaching, teaching, tutoring, or anything else; Good Deeds Mortgage encourages you to get involved and make a difference in the lives of the children in your community. For Young Life specifically, this can take many forms. Some great ways to get involved are by becoming a volunteer leader, being a guest host at camp, serving as a committee member in your local area, and offering financial support. Find the best fit for you, and use it to change the lives of kids in your community. You can make a difference.
Hear from Andrew (a volunteer leader), Katey (a highschool junior), and Connor (a highschool junior) as they recount some of their Young Life experiences and how this last year has affected them:
“Staying connected with my Young Life friends has looked different in recent times, but the mission we are on has not changed. We are still called to be a ministry of connection and relationship. Over the last few weeks, it has taken some creativity to connect with my group of young men. I try to reach out over the phone every week and dropped off some care packages with cookies. We even did a zoom workout together. This next week some other leaders and I will be dropping off survival bags with different small gifts. My group of young friends is graduating this year. I wanted them to have something to take with them and I really believe in the written letters and how powerful they are. I wrote each of my guys a letter to encourage and let them know how important they are to me and have been over the last few years. We’ve shared a lot of life over the last few years and I’m incredibly thankful for each of them. Small things add up, especially in this time.”
–Andrew (May, 2020)
“Although younglife has been different during this crazy year it has continued to bring me joy. Each month we are able to meet and further our relationships with God. Our leaders work extra hard to find ways for us to participate in both safe and fun activities. My favorite thing we did this year was tie dying shirts at our leaders house. This was super fun and we were able to stay safe while doing so. With there being little to do this year it has been really enjoyable to have younglife to look forward to. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to engage in this amazing group and cannot wait to continue in this group after Covid.”
“This year hasn’t been easy for anyone. 2020 has had many ups and downs as we all try to make the best of the situations we are given. I feel really lucky to have such great leaders that have tried to do as much as they can with us while following the quarantine guidelines. We have had a few opportunities to do normal, fun stuff, like going to swim at the barn, spikeball tournaments, and just going out to dinner to catch up with the boys. Although I’m super sad we didn’t get to go to camp this year, I’m happy we found fun stuff to do together. Now we just have to cross our fingers and hope we can go to camp next year!”