Some of you are very familiar with Young Life’s ministry. Windy and i have been involved for thirty-something years, and love the work. Tonight is the fund-raising banquet for YL in the Sandhills–Allen Levi will be with us. That’s always a treat for me; we go way back . . .
i pecked out the following last night for the banquet “program.”
It’s a simple strategy really—if you can call it a strategy. It happens like this…
You’re just a kid, hangin’ around school with your friends. One day you begin to hear some buzz around the halls about something called Young Life. You hear it might be something religious so you avoid it like the plague.
Then some friends start to nag you about going to “club” one night, and you figure they’ve lost their minds. So, you make some lame excuse.
After a few weeks of that nagging, you find out that SHE is involved in this Young Life Club thing. SHE is so cool, and beautiful, this thing must be OK. So, you hang a ride with your friends on a Monday night, and off you go. Your mom thinks it’s good ‘cause you kind of pumped up the religious part.
When you get there, you’re amazed at the crowd. Not only are there lots of people there, but all kinds of people are there. You bump around and talk to some folks over the noise, but when the whole thing starts you find a place to sit near the back. They break out guitars and sing some songs you heard on the radio before, and then they play some game where the girls beat the boys with foam baseball bats. You don’t really understand it but everybody is laughing and it IS kind of funny.
Then they sing some more songs and somebody mentions a weekend camp. You don’t really know what that’s about, either, but some people you know kinda get fired up about it. Including HER. Yep.
The last couple of songs are about Jesus or somethin’, and you’re a little uneasy—even though the singing sounds really good. The leader is a guy about nine feet tall. He’s kinda relaxed and cool, so you find it easy to like him. He tells some stories about his family and about when he was growing up, and that’s all kind of funny. He picks up this little book and starts to read from it. You are surprised that all your friends and these other people are listening to a guy read from the Bible! This tall leader makes it seem familiar, and you could almost listen to him read for hours. He talks about what he’s read for a few more minutes, and then he prays. Everybody is quiet for the whole thing! And then, it’s over…
A few days later some guys invite you to come with them to the ball field to play Frisbee with the tall fellow. Everybody runs their legs off, and then heads to Bojangle’s for some tea. From there you get invited to have breakfast with all of them on Thursday before school. The tall guy can give you a ride. It’s just a time when the bros get together and yack about life and God and what it all might mean. Sounds fine to you, so you tell them you’re in.
Two weeks later you’ve gotten to know Greg, the tall guy, fairly well. On the way to your third breakfast with the bros, Greg asks you if you want to go to camp. He says he’s got a spot in his cabin with your name on it. You ask your mom, again pumping up the religious part, and she writes the check.
Camp. That’s one word for it. The place is awesome is what it is. 300 high school folks are there, including HER. You actually get to sit near her on the bus, and you try to be cool.
They have all kinds of stuff to do at this camp, and it’s all crazy fun. Greg is right in the middle of it with you. The food is great, and they have Young Life Clubs, only on steroids! 300 kids singin’ awesome songs and there’s a full band and everything. A cool guy, not as cool as Greg but probably one of his friends, is the speaker at the clubs. He says it all in a way you’ve never heard it before. “It all,” you know, the stuff about Jesus.
Saturday night they give you some time to be by yourself and think about stuff the speaker has said. You find yourself saying thank you to Jesus, and wanting Him to be your friend forever.
On Sunday morning, the Young Life Club seems different somehow. It’s like you have stepped into another world you didn’t know about or understand before. Now you feel at home in it. And you realize what’s happened. You’ve watched Greg and his friends love something, or Someone, and they’ve shown you the way. It’s simple, really.
You were made for this.
Praying for you all, always…