Have you seen cars around town with ‘YL 7:27’ painted on the back windows and wondered what it meant?
That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.
“People see YL 7:27 and ask questions about it, and that’s what we want,” explained Traci Lawson. “It’s supposed to create a buzz, and it does.”
The 24-year-old Corona del Mar resident explained that 7:27 is when the Monday night Young Life Club meetings start, and the time was chosen because it’s catchy and memorable.
“Young Life isn’t a church group, “ Traci explained. “It’s a club, a program, a relational ministry and it’s a Christian organization, but it’s also so much more. We do life together. It’s tough to describe, kids just need to come and find out.”
Once teens experience the fun, friendship, acceptance and the love of God shown through Young Life’s volunteers, they want to stay. And thanks to Young Life Clubs for students at Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools, and WyldLife Clubs for junior high students at Ensign and CdM intermediate schools and Mariners Christian School, there are plenty of opportunities.
“I went to CdM, and I want to pour back into it,” Traci said. “We Young Life volunteer leaders work full-time, but we spend a lot of time with the kids, because we care so much about them. We’re extremely passionate about this; we want kids to hear about Jesus and His unconditional love in a fun, non-threatening way. All the kids feel accepted here, which is so important.”
Cassie Carpenter’s appreciation for Young Life while she attended CdM moved her to volunteer during college and, for the past two years, she too has been volunteer leader at CdM.
“When I was in high school, it helped to have Young Life leaders to look up to as great role models, as well as being able to bring friends who didn’t go to church to a fun place to hear about God,” Cassie said. “We do things in a creative way to get high schoolers to ask questions. We speak their lingo and go where they are, investing in them and building relationships with them. I love that it brings faith to high school.”
Delaney Owen, a senior at CdM, is one of many attracted to the accepting and exciting atmosphere of Young Life.
“I came a year ago and it was great! Its always fun and everybody feels welcome, even if they’re new,” Owen, said. “There aren’t any cliques, and we do tons of fun games. The music is really great; even the guys sing! You don’t have to be religious to come. If you aren’t sure you want to be a Christian or not, you can get a taste. It’s a perfect place to come.”
Ryan Adams, area director for Young Life Newport/Costa Mesa, is committed to providing the same kind of relational ministry that affected his life so profoundly many years ago.
“When I was in high school, there was a Young Life volunteer leader who showed up at my practices and spent a lot of time with me,” Ryan said. “I grew up without a dad, and that leader had a profound impact on me. He was influential in helping me come to Christ. I don’t think there’s a more effective ministry than a relational one, where you really earn the right to be heard.”
“It may seem like kids around here have everything, but what they really want and need are real, authentic relationships,” Ryan continued. “They find that with their Young Life Leaders, who are people they can spend time with and trust. We’re seeing that it’s making a difference in the kids lives; we’re seeing a lot more kids interested in God.”
The origins of Young Life date back to 1938 when Jim Rayburn, a young Presbyterian youth leader and seminary student in Gainesville, Texas, was challenged by a local minister to view the neighborhood high school as his parish and to inspire students who weren’t interested in church. Jim began a weekly club for the kids with singing, skits and a simple message about Jesus. Club attendance grew and after graduating from seminary, Jim and four other seminarians launched Young Life on Oct. 16, 1941.
Young Life moved to Colorado Springs in 1946 and has ministries for multi-ethnic areas, rural areas, students with disabilities, middle school students, pregnant teens, college students, and kids on military bases, totaling more than 700 ministries in more than 70 countries. Their mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith.
For more information, go to www.newportmesa.younglife.org.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].