Tonight we rode up to Hickory, NC to attend their Young Life banquet to celebrate 30 years of ministry in the Catawba Valley. My husband had the chance to speak to the legacy that has been left by so many people over the years and how as a community we can keep it going for years to come! My heart was moved in looking back over the history of a YL national video reminding us of how Young Life started in the first place with one man’s prayer in the 1930’s, 75 years ago! Jim Rayburn asked the Lord to, “Give us the teenagers that we may lead them to Thee. ”
When Ben & I grew up in Greensboro, which is celebrating it’s 60th year of ministry in November, we were gracefully embedded into the fold of a rich legacy as well. I remember walking through my high school’s front doors encountering for the first time Jonathan & Ann Smith. They were standing and smiling and hugging every kind of person in my high school. I realized quickly they were not students or teachers, but yet were choosing to step into the world of my high school friends, and my life as well. Almost daily they showed up, along with Mary McLarty, and Matt Hannam, to spread the love of Jesus to our school. Sometimes it came in the form of Yum Yum’s hotdogs and lunch, standing in the student section at our football games, or playing guitar and leading us in chubby bunny marshmallow skits in an old white house downtown before they got up to speak about Jesus. This picture of people who could be choosing to do other things stepping into my messy world has stuck with my over the years. When I reached college I wanted to do what they did, so as I mentioned in a previous post, I became a Young Life leader in Raleigh, NC.
I remembered what it felt like to my friends and I to have consistent men and women show up in our lives. They were one of the few constants in an ever-changing world of emotions and social drama at my high school. My senior year I finally started to catch the vision that I could take a little focus off my self and begin to love people just like my leaders were, and so began a beautiful refreshed slant to my daily purpose. Not only was I growing as I began to pour out the love I had experienced, but people my age and younger started catching a deeper glimpse of unconditional love rooted in Jesus.
On spring break I went on a campaigners trip to Tijuana, Mexico were we slept in tents, ate every meal outside, and used bag showers & portable toilets. Little did I know while I was hugging the most dear children, mixing concrete, and building homes for those in need I would meet my future husband on the worksite next to mine. It took us 6 months to go on our first date, but the rest is history.
Ben & I would not be the same today without the legacy of Young Life over the past 75 years. It has taught us about the gospel of grace that we all are offered that brings full life. We cannot help but continue on that legacy here in the Lake Norman area for as long as we can!