To Love the Lost

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Lindsay (second from the left) with fellow YLC Leaders

For me, freshman year began in a whirlwind.  I came to a new school, in a new state, with none of my friends from high school, and no idea how to make new ones.  I heard about a Young Life event happening one night and, hungry for friendship, I went.  After that I was genuinely sought after by the leaders in a way I never could have imagined.  The “wanna get coffee and talk?” texts were needed more than they knew.  I had been chasing the Lord on my own without stopping to look around me.  When I did, I discovered that there were others running towards the same Savior, and I found that we could run together. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.  It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”  Through Young Life I made some of my best friends, and I found a place where I could thrive and grow alongside other believers. 

The university presents an opportunity for a specific ministry.  There isn’t a mission field in existence that is poised to shake the foundations of the country’s spirituality in the same way as a college campus.  The students today, are the world leaders of our future and this is the time in their life where their worldview will be shaped.  The college years are unique.  For most students, it is the first time they are living on their own and making their own choices.  It is a time of new experiences; a time to figure out who they are, and who they want to be; a time to ask big questions, and evaluate what they believe; a time to prepare for the future.  College is when those who grew up in the church have the chance to truly make their faith their own, and when those who have never heard of Jesus may hear His name and learn of His unconditional love.  So many students are lost and searching for answers to questions that they don’t even know that they have. These students long to feel a part of something.  They desire significance and a place where they feel wanted. 

Young Life College provides an avenue for leaders to build friendships and trust with their fellow classmates in a way that demonstrates the steadfast love of Christ. YLC Party Week at the beginning of the fall semester draws students into a community of love and grace and acceptance. Having events all week long is crucial to the freshman searching for a place to belong.  Late Night club gives them the chance to let go and have fun in a loving and welcoming environment.  Every aspect of club is directed towards breaking down walls and building authentic relationships which deep down is what we all crave.  Small groups provide the opportunity to strengthen relationships and dive deeper into God’s Word together. Young Life is a place where we can talk openly about our savior and accept his wild gift of grace. 

Jesus could have won wars, He could have brought every proud man to his knees, He could have overthrown the Roman Empire in the blink of an eye.  Instead, Jesus came to Earth to love the lost; He nurtured and trained a close group of brothers to become his disciples, healed anyone who dared to put their faith in Him, and offered forgiveness and understanding to the grimes of society.  When the King of kings finally came to this dusty Earth, His main priority was to love.

Our aims at ministry are the same.  As Young Life Leaders, we love on the broken and lost in the deepest parts of campus.  God began His ravishing pursuit of us at the beginning of time, and we are to relentlessly pursue those on our campus for His glory. 

Jesus is not ashamed of the broken pieces inside of us.  He does not shy away from us, but delights in us and in our weakness.  His love does not waiver when we question our self-worth; it does not sigh or grow weary when we run from him.  Just as our Savior chases after our hearts, we, as college leaders, are to love our peers fearlessly, unconditionally, and personally despite their response.  The Young Life College ministry does not change lives or bring any one to Christ on its own, but God uses it as a vessel for His good and perfect will.  He can work miracles without us, but He chooses to use us to show others the life of abundance and freedom we have through Christ.

Lindsay Stark

Young Life College Leader


Creating a Space

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Mckinsey (bottom middle) with Inters at Clearwater Cove

 

            A week at Young Life camp is sold as “the best week of your life”. Work Crew and Summer Staff, where high school and college students volunteer at a camp, is sold as “the best month of your life”. I have experienced all three, and here I am, back in Fayetteville, after truly having the best summer of my life. I was the housekeeping intern at Clearwater Cove, Young Life’s newest property nestled above Table Rock Lake, with a view of Point 8 like you would not believe.


 This was the first summer of camping ever; a historic summer to say the least! Middle school and high school friends from Michigan to Texas and everywhere in between were invited into a week of wake surfing, surprise square dances, and drinking milkshakes with their leader at the Tin Can (a remodeled air stream-turned-snack bar, so cool!). And every night, they sit at club with 200 peers who listen to the greatest love story ever spoken. They hear about a God who knit them together, knows them inside and out, knows their struggle, and only wants a deep, personal relationship with each and every one of them through Jesus. Every event, opportunity, and adventure throughout the day reinforces and mirrors the Gospel, whether it is seen by campers or not. This is my favorite part of all Young Life camping; it is soaked in an intentionality that they will never find outside of the love of Jesus.


            Like I said, I was the first housekeeping intern at the new property. Housekeeping is not a glamourous job; the team of housekeepers (better known as Tawashies) worked from 7:30am to roughly 3:30pm every day. We spent the days sanitizing, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and wiping every surface on camp, including camper rooms. Yes, there are logistical purposes like stopping sickness from spreading or maintaining the beauty of the brand new buildings. There is more purpose, however, in serving campers who, generally speaking, have never had someone clean up a mess they made themselves. And not only did we clean the mess, we did it with excellence.


For me, housekeeping is the perfect metaphor for this uncommon intentionality. In reality, it is a pretty small component of the whole metaphor. Most people never see it.  We were not creating anything new; we were not leaving our name on anything. Really all we were doing was creating a blank space. A space where campers can sleep soundly, maybe for the first time in years, on a bed that was made for them upon arrival. A space where campers can get as dirty as possible during field games and come back to a freshly cleaned shower. A space where they can sit in the club room on spotless carpet that was vacuumed hours before to ensure little distractions. A space where no one needs anything from them. A space where they can find the freedom to be who God created them to be; a teenager.


This is the purpose of all Young Life properties. All fronts of the property, from the waterfront, to the kitchen, to maintenance, to landscaping, to guest services, to the ropes, to sound and video, to the infirmary, to the store, all of it is just a safe space to experience the love of the Creator. This freedom is not just extended to campers either; in fact, I think it only increases the more specific the role at camp is. I have been a camper, a tawashie on work crew, a snack bar girl on summer staff, and now a summer intern. With every job, specificity and responsibility increase. The ten full time staff at Clearwater have even heavier workloads, and truthfully, are more invisible than even the interns. Most onlookers would even say that camp is too extravagant; that energy, time, and resources are being spent at a camp where most only spend seven days out of their whole life. So why do it?


Because I’ve been forgiven. Here, I am able to pour everything I have out as an expression of being forgiven. I know that most people are not made to be a housekeeper, but I am. It feels so personal. I know that Lord made me to know Him more intimately, and to learn more about myself through housekeeping at Clearwater Cove. There is an enormous amount of freedom in discovering a unique purpose; at every level of a Young Life property, purpose and love are all there is to be discovered. This kind of purpose changes everything! One example is that I get to co-lead the Fayetteville High School Young Life team this year with the same kind of love and intentionality. It was so sad to leave Clearwater, but I know my purpose in the next chapter of my life. 


If I had to sum up what I learned this summer at Clearwater, my summer on the lake, it is that nothing is about me, but everything is for me. More specifically, there is nothing at camp that revolved around me, not even my job. However, I have never been in a situation where I felt so deeply that I fit. I just fit, and that was because Jesus knows me and loves me. He knows and loves the thirteen interns who are now my brothers and sisters. He knows and loves the two sessions of work crew and summer staff who served selflessly and had a blast doing it. He knows and loves the two weeks of Youth For Christ who rented out the property this summer. He knows and loves the ten full time staff who work around the clock to ensure that nothing is missing and nothing is broken. He knows and loves every leader and camper who has or ever will step foot at Clearwater Cove. He knows and loves me. What a summer!  


McKinsey Stokes
Fayetteville HS Team Leader


The Best Week of our Lives

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Janell (right) with a student at camp


Eleven students from Fayetteville and Springdale WyldLife got to experience “the best week of our lives” at Clearwater Cove in late June.  What does the best week of your life at camp encompass?  For our middle school and junior high students, it meant:

·      -Pushing their leader up a hill on a cart in a Derby Race

·      -Facing the fear of heights by completing a high ropes adventure course

·      -Tubing on Table Rock Lake

·      -Glow stick dance party

·      -Playing carnival games to win the chance to slather shaving cream on their leaders and spray them with water guns

·      -Laughing their heads off at skits of rapping chickens, a huge purple imaginary friend, and two basketball trickshotters training to be ready for the Olympics

·      -Performing a lip sync & dance routine on stage in the All Camp Lip Sync Battle

·      -Throwing shaving cream and slime in the muck war

·      -Showing off their best jumps at the “barge”, a boat with trampolines and runways to jump into the water from

More than all of the above, though, the best week of their life meant hearing the best news of all… that they are deeply known and deeply loved by the Creator of the universe. The camp speaker, Crystal, brought the stories and teachings of Jesus to life with illustrations and applications to their present lives.

They heard the story of the son who left and wasted his inheritance and then, upon walking home, was met by his father who was running to him with open arms. Welcoming him home with love, compassion, and forgiveness.

They heard Crystal say, “You Take God’s Breath Away” and then learned about Christ’s last breath on the cross as He died so that each one of us might experience real life.

They heard truth, and then they got to process it.  In one-on-one conversations with leaders, in walking down to the lake for our tubing ride, and in cabin time. Eleven students got to ask hard questions, process what they were learning, and talk about hard things going on in their lives.

We sang a song all week called Let There Be Light by Nashville Nine. The first verse goes like this:

“Come all you weary hearts, bring all your guilt and pain

Bring all the hurt you’ve caused, and watch it wash away

Come to the riverside, drink from the well of life”

 

As two hundred and twenty students and their leaders sang this song, I looked around and saw these words being lived.  Weary hearts, with guilt and pain, got to lay their hurts down and experience life to the full. The only difference was that we were lakeside.


Janell Kolins

Springdale WL Team Leader





Heartbreak of Jesus

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AC (second from left) with Har-Ber friends


3 years ago, I would have never thought my heart would be this different.


3 years ago, I would have never thought that my time would be spent the way it has.

3 years ago, I would have never imagined that I would actually pray so fervently for someone else’s broken heart. Not the kind of broken heart that hurts and heals in a few days, but the kind of broken heart that does not know Jesus. The kind of broken heart that is hurting for love, dying for acceptance and searching for something more.

Praise the Lord that I am not the person I was 3 years ago. Praise the Lord that He chose me to be a Young Life leader.

I remember the first time I walked into Har-Ber High School. This is cheesy, but I swear I could hear the students’ hearts beating. This was the first time I ever experienced a different kind of heartbreak. The heartbreak of Jesus. The heartbreak that changed me completely. It changed my focus and my purpose, causing my eyes to no longer seek myself, but to love God and love others. From that moment, my heart has been broken for the broken hearted.

Now I understand. I understand Jesus more because of how He has used me in Young Life over the past 3 years. I understand the freedom that sacrifice brings, the love it takes to meet someone where they are and the importance of consistency. I understand how human I am and how holy He is.  I understand that truth truly sets us free.

Being a Young Life leader at Har-Ber High School has been the single best way I have spent my time. Not because I’ve learned the dances that make me look cool, or that Young Life is a fun time or even that I have enough funny stories to tell to last a lifetime (if we ever meet, ask me about the time Adam Osing ate a dozen crickets at Young Life club).

Although I appreciate all of the memories and the dance moves, I know that this experience has been worth while because I have had the opportunity to see Jesus meet my high school friends face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart.

I am so thankful. Thankful that I am not who I was 3 years ago, thankful for the tears, the rejection and the laughter. Thankful for the inappropriate amount of meals shared at the Springdale Braums. Thankful for a God that pursues me, chases after my friends and that breaks my heart.

For a while I tried to not to let myself feel the heart break of Jesus because it hurt. It was forcing me out of my comfort zone and throwing me into, what I like to call, “the warzone of vulnerability.” I am telling you, the risk is worth it. It makes us more like Jesus. It pushes us to listen, ask questions and to show up.

You know, the sweetest thing about the Lord breaking my heart for these students is that my heart has never felt this full.  When we allow ourselves to be used by the Lord and we recognize the opportunity we have, He allows us to understand Him more.

Ministry is a call to be authentic, to give fully, to love unconditionally and to do it all with urgency. God uses us. We get to be a part of something that will last beyond our schedules and our lifetimes. Let’s lock arms and work towards eternity. Let’s allow Jesus to break our hearts for the brokenhearted. 

AC Hansen

Team Leader at Har-Ber High School



Camp Fundraisers

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Students cleaning at a camp fundraiser


 

This summer, we are taking FIVE camp trips and we are so excited to bring over 100 kids to the feet of Jesus at Young Life Camp in just a few short months! Each trip is between $400-800 for the week and many of the adolescents we pour into are unable to pay in full. We spend most of the spring fundraising to get our friends to camp and would love for you to join us in sending our friends to the best week of their life!


Camp Fundraisers-


Coins for Campers: Have loose change? Put it in one of our ready to go Mason Jars and collect it til May 1st. Then turn it into us and 100% of the change will go towards sending kids to camp!


Yard Work: Need your leaves picked up? Your yard weeded? Some spring cleaning or painting done? Instead of wasting your saturday, let us and our high school and middle school friends come help! To set up a time for us to come work for you, contact Carlyle! We will be doing Yard Work every Saturday in April.


I Believe God Devotional Book: Gregg Stutts wrote a 40-day devotional book that brings you closer to God and helps you dive into truth! We are selling these for $5 per book, and all the proceeds go to sending kids to camp!


Walk-a-Thon: Walk-a-thon is an event in April where we are walking for camp! People sponsor our leaders and kids to walk a 5k and kids get that much closer to having camp paid for!


Bunco & Bake Sale for Babies: YoungLives will be hosting a Bunco Night on April 19th. $20 donation to play, with baked goods for sale throughout the evening.

 

*For more information on our fundraisers, or to give contact Christine Evans at christine@nwa.younglife.org


A Life Changing Burrito

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Nick (right) with the Springdale WL Team

Who would’ve thought a burrito and a tennis racket could have had enough of an impact on me that it got me to Young Life Club every time for two years in high school?

It’s funny for me to think back on that one small instance, and how that was what started my Young Life experience.  Getting dragged to a club and then getting covered in assorted fast food items via tennis racket was definitely a change of scenery. The leaders took a burrito, tossed it in the air, and smashed it with a tennis racket; getting burrito guts all over me, and I was hooked. All the weird, awkward, and just downright different experiences I had in high school Young Life kept me going and interested.   

The real depth came from the Campaigner group I got involved with. The opportunity to build lasting friendships with people who genuinely wanted to know me was exactly what I needed in my life at the time. For the first time in my life, I was interested in reading the Bible with that group of guys. And then getting to talk about what I was getting from it really became the spark for the maturity in my faith.

High school came and passed and then it was on to college. Young Life had become a habit for me already so I naturally attended Young Life College at the beginning of my freshman year.  For the most part though, my freshman year was rather stagnant and I never really developed my faith. Nothing spectacular happened and I didn’t have much going on outside of school and Young Life Clubs. 

The next summer was when things began to change. I was fortunate enough to sign up for two Work Weeks at two different Young Life camps. My initial impressions were that I was just going to show up with a bunch of friends, do random chores around camp, have some fun in between and then head home.  I never expected any significant changes to occur in my life from these weeks. 

However, I found a passion for God that I had never experienced while at Work Week. I loved Young Life already, but it wasn’t until these two weeks that I saw serving others as the most rewarding thing I could imagine. All the sweat and hard work that was being put into these camps leading up to kids arriving to them was well worth it because of the joy and life changing experiences kids were going to have when they see these camps. I had never been so exhausted in my life in such a short amount of time.  One night in particular in Georgia at Sharptop Cove I needed help climbing into a bunk bed because of how sore I was. But I had never been filled with more joy than when I was working at those camps. The excitement that came from thinking of a kid who could see Jesus through the beauty of these camps gave me a passion that changed my heart.

The maturity I gained while working at Sharptop Cove and Clearwater Cove last summer called me to becoming a leader. This past fall I went through leadership training and in December was chosen to be apart of the beginning of Springdale Wyldlife. Since this past summer, my spiritual growth has been constant and I can’t wait for what God has planned for me through Young Life! And none of this would have happened without getting a burrito smacked into me at a high school Club years ago.


Nick Yocum
Springdale Wyldlife Leader

Making College Count

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Erin (third from left) with her Small Group

Finals week: the time in which college kids overanalyze more than ever if what they are committed to is worth it. We stress over our GPA and wonder if making the most of our college career means passing the 8 am general geology final running on four hours of sleep. Or maybe the more stressful time is the second week of class, when people are already having interviews for camp jobs the next summer so they can have an internship the next and a job lined up for the summer after. Or maybe it’s the dreaded day of enrolling in classes for the following semester, hoping that everything we picked out in our shopping cart the night before makes the cut six hours later. Or maybe the most anxiety-filled time is just the random week halfway through semester that just so happens to hold four different tests, a quiz, and two papers.


             During college there seems to always be high-pressure to have things under control. To have things figured out, wrapped up, lined up for now and the rest of your life to make college worthwhile. We feel as though we have to perform well academically, socially, stay emotionally stable, and eat enough food while getting enough sleep so that by the end of it all we can look back on our college experience and agree with all the others that say these really were the best years of our lives.


This leads to the question of what really does make a good college career. Is it the grades on the research papers that are far too long? The internship at the company we’ll never understand? The amount of friends we have but maybe don’t really feel known by? Even further, the number of followers on Instagram we’re able to get by the end of our few years here? How many high school friends we kept or escaped?


For me, it’s always been about the people. Whether it is just our college experience or everything we do afterwards, the people we meet, learn from, allow into our lives, welcome us into their lives have always been the most important. We are created to need community, to build each other up, to not experience life alone – as a foundation, the Lord created us to have that community with himself, to have that intimate relationship; but he also created us to enjoy that support from those around us.


My attraction towards Young Life College at the University of Arkansas makes sense. It offers that community. Without having a base of friends, without having social skills, freshman Erin walked into a Young Life event three years ago and immediately felt cared for, felt interesting, felt like I was a part of something bigger because of the love that so many strangers had for me. All Young Life does is offer an avenue to make people feel cared for, because the Lord first loved us (1 John 4:19), and we want other students, no matter where they are at in life and how they know the Lord, to know that they are deeply, genuinely cared for. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a different way of doing ministry than being pushed to simply reach out to people to be their friend, in classes, in coffee shops, in day-to-day life.


While serving as a leader on the Young Life College, I’ve been pushed and challenged in the way I care for people, if I care for them for the Lord, if I care for them for myself, and the intentionality behind how I can interact with people. It is a bold ministry that cares for people better than anything I’ve seen. And my hope for anyone, whether they are a freshman still trying to find their groove or a senior who still feels disconnected, is that they’re willing to put themselves out there and find something to get involved in, something to invest time into that leads to experiences that are worthwhile. Young Life College showed me how to build relationships and step out of my comfort zone. It has shaped me and my college years and will continue to do so in years to come.


Erin O'Brien

Young Life College Team Leader

A Faithful Pursuit

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Hannah (left) at College Weekend

In 2012 I walked into high school with a dissolved friend group, little faith, and a hard shell covering my heart. I spent the first year searching for a group of people to call home in a clique-ridden school. My solution to getting friends quick was to pour my heart into people all too soon. I often didn’t receive the friendship I was looking for; all of it felt so surface level and I began to worry that this was as good as it gets.

            My older brother, Cory Spencer, was heavily involved with Young Life and consistently begged me to come with him. I didn’t see the point; I had tried to break through the walls of cliques and make friends, and I failed, why would this be any different? Nonetheless, I finally, hesitantly, agreed. I left that 80s themed club with teased bangs and a new understanding of friendship. People who didn’t even know me wanted to know how my day was. The people I was calling my best friends at the time had never asked me that before. I didn’t feel like I had to break down any walls or change myself to be a part of this thing called Young Life; people didn’t care about my reputation, they just wanted to get to know me. 

  I wish I could say Young Life flipped my life immediately, but I can’t. I continued to chase a negative lifestyle and people that didn’t pursue me like I pursued them. This caused me so much pain and loneliness. I was pursuing friendships that only drained me, and a lifestyle that hindered any potential positive relationships. 

However; without Young Life, it would have been much worse. I would make bad choices on the weekends but always make sure I made it to club on Monday. The love and laughter that radiated at every club kept pulling me back in. The little bit I got to hear about Jesus every week helped me hold on to the splinter of faith I still had. There was something tugging at my heart that I didn’t quite understand yet. My leaders knew about my bad habits, but continued to love and pursue me. They wanted to live life with me and pour love into me, completely disregarding my reputation. My leaders, Lauren Moore and Hannah Campbell, were the only consistent things in my life and for that I am forever thankful. 

  I am now a freshman in college and I accepted Jesus Christ this last summer. My bad habits were still lingering, but they began to be less and less appealing. I had exhausted all worldly options and was tired of trying to do it all on my own. I had come to the conclusion that I needed help, and that I was going to reach out to Him for that support. I had joined New Life Church here in Fayetteville and the community I gained there and through Young Life was so much more satisfying than the life I had been living. When college started, I decided to start my walk with Jesus. I spent three years going to Young Life club, camp, and campaigners in high school not actively following Jesus. My leaders didn’t see immediate fruit, but that did not change their ways. They were persistent with their love. If it weren’t for Jesus working in these ladies, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Young Life was the stepping-stone to my walk with God. I consistently fell off, but He and the volunteer leaders at Fayetteville High School did not.

   Young Life is a huge part of my family now, my older brother and older sister are both leaders, my parents regularly open their home to any Young Life event that they can, and I am currently in leadership training. The vision of Young Life is to pursue kids who don’t know Jesus and to show them what a relationship with Him can look like. That vision hits so close to home, and I am ecstatic to get to be a part of that journey with kids in the area.

 

Hannah Gage

Young Life College Student, Leader in Training


The Power of Prayer

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Hallie (second from right) with her girls at camp


A little over a year ago, we started Young Life in Springdale High School.  I was excited and nervous— starting ministry in a new school can be tough. Before coming on the Springdale Young Life team, I was a Young Life leader at HarBer High School and I had heard about how different Springdale is from their school. Springdale High School is extremely diverse with the school consisting of mostly Hispanic descent. Over half of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.  The Springdale Young Life team began doing contact work and I immediately started praying for the kids that God had in store for me to pursue.

 

 Towards the beginning of last fall, Alyssa Walden asked me if I could go to HarBer Young Life’s club since a few girls from Springdale High School were going to be there that night. I said yes and started praying for the girls even though I didn’t know their names yet. That night, the girls and I immediately started connecting. Over the course of the last year, I have watched these girls go from attempting suicide, getting arrested, dealing with the hardships of unstable family life to now having hope, a future, and most importantly a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have seen what a huge need the kids of Springdale High School have for someone being there consistently in their life and how they crave just to be loved, wanted, and cared for. It’s amazing that by just taking the time to pray for these kids, God has revealed Himself to not only them, but also to me. Through individual and team meeting prayer time, we have seen God answer our deepest prayers. He has blessed us by sending our kids who have no money to camp fully funded, by having our own Young Life club and a place to have it, and with an incredible school sponsor.

 

Over the last year, I have witnessed how powerful prayer truly is. I sometimes think to myself that God must laugh at my prayer requests as He always answers them and then some. A verse that I have held close this last year has been “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Matthew 21:22. I have learned to pray big as there is nothing that God isn’t capable of doing.

 

Hallie Schmoldt

Springdale Young Life Team Leader

Address

Young Life Northwest Arkansas | PO Box 1325 Fayetteville, AR 72702-1325

Phone: 4797894898

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