How do you tell the story of an entire year of
ministry in a Young Life area?
This year our weekend camping was
record-breaking, we saw new ministries opened, older ministries revamped, and
some ministries struggled while leader teams stayed faithful. Main Stream kids.
Middle School kids. Teen Moms. Students with special needs. All had specific
Young Life ministry this year! On paper, it was another wonderful year. But the
story on paper is not the whole story.
highest highs were incredibly high the lowest lows were things we’ve never
experienced before — and I pray we will never experience again.
shootings in one year.
In October at
Butler High School, where we have had YL for almost 8 years, a freshmen boy
brought a gun to school to confront an older boy about a conflict that had
spilled over from the weekend. It is said that he never meant to use it…
however, in a crowded hallway before first period he did use it, shooting and
killing the older boy. A community was shattered, lives were changed, there was
leaders were there to pray and weep alongside kids.
Then, on the
last day of classes at UNC Charlotte this year an angry student walked into the
Kennedy Building, to a full classroom and opened fire with a pistol killing two
and wounding four others. A community was shattered, lives were changed,
there was another vigil.
staff and leaders were there to pray and weep alongside
For the second
time in a year we found ourselves saying the same thing that everyone says
after one of these school shootings: “I can’t believe it happened here.
I don’t point
to these tragic bookends to solicit pity or sorrow but rather to share how the
events reframed our mission and how we talk about it. My frequent temptation
when communicating with friends and donors is to overstate Young Life’s impact
in our community by pointing to secondary things.
show you pictures of crowds of kids as though that was the end goal. We tell
stories of important conversations where kids discover that they too “were made
for this” — a relationship with their creator and savior as though that is what
we spend all of our time doing. Crowds are cool and we hope for meaningful
conversations. But the truth is that our calling, is not to bring a crowd to us but to go to the crowd and to faithfully wade
through a hundred trivial, surface level encounters to see the moment where a
student encounters the one whom their soul was made for.
The truth is
that our main impact is simply in trying to be there on
the best days, the worst days, and the every-days. We want to be
there at football games cheering in the student section. To be
there at pre-prom pictures. To be there at
the before-school breakfast bible study. To be there in
the parking lot after school. To be there so much that
we are a part of the scenery. To be there for the after-school coffee shop meet-up with a kid who texts a leader and says “I’m in a
dark place, I need someone to talk to”.
In the midst of
trying to be there we also give the
invitation to come here — to clubs, to Campaigners, to
fall weekends, to summer camp trips. We commit to be there with
kids in their world in hopes that they might hear the good news.
eternity, they would be there.
Thank you all
for going to be there with kids.
Written by Cliff Wright.
Cliff Wright serves as the Metro Director for the Charlotte University Metro area in North Carolina. Cliff is married to Laura and they have three remarkable children: Keller, Asher, and Pryor. He has one poorly behaved dog, Levi.