A Thank You Note to My High School YoungLife Experience

     Last night I attended my final Campaigners before leaving for Baylor next Wednesday.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Campaigners, Campaigners is a Bible study affiliated with YoungLife that is held in areas all over and allows high school students to sit down with their leaders and open up the Bible.  This Bible study taught me how to read the Bible thoughtfully and has taught me more than I’ll ever be able to explain about who Jesus is and how we’re made to live.  That’s the very mission of YoungLife – to present the Gospel to teenagers in a way that is understandable and exciting.  Today I’m sharing an open letter to my area’s YoungLife, a thank you note to my high school YoungLife experience if you will.  I wouldn’t be who I am today without the way God has used the YoungLife ministry in my life and I will always be thankful for that.

Dear SHS YoungLife,

     Thank you for giving me leaders that met me where I was when I was quiet and hurting.  These leaders accepted me for who I was and listened to my struggles without judgment and without allowing what I said to alter their opinions of me.  Thank you, leaders, for being such a beautiful illustration of what it means to follow Christ and be obedient to the Lord.  I live my life differently because of the way I’ve watched you live.

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     Thank you for the Emory Road House, a place where I could go and leave my worries at the door as I entered club and Campaigners.  A place where I could forget about all my homework for a few hours.  A place where I was loved and accepted.  A place where I could scream lyrics to “Best Love Song” and jump around like a little kid.  A place where I could grow spiritually with lots of support and without any judgment.  I would have gone insane in high school without this place and I’m really grateful that I could go to the Emory Road House and be reminded of who I am in the Lord and how much greater His plans are for me than what I was dreaming up.

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     Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead middle schoolers.  Even when the middle school boys were frustrating and loud and even when I had to start awkward conversations to connect with the quiet girls, I appreciated every moment I had at Wyldlife club.  I know not all areas allow high schoolers to lead Wyldlife and I’m really thankful ours does because I grew so much in my faith watching those middle schoolers learn about who God is.  The middle school girls I got to lead brought so much joy into my life and reminded me how much fun it is to be a kid and for that, I will always feel so beyond blessed.

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     Thank you for taking me on trips across the country to go to camp, lead, or serve while learning more about who I am in Him.  Thank you for Windy Gap in Weaverville NC, Carolina Point in Brevard NC, Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista CO, Southwind in Ocklawaha FL, Saranac Village in Saranac Lake NY, and Lake Champion in Glen Spey NY.  These beautiful places showcase the glory of God’s creation as well as the glory of the incredible gift of salvation.  The time I’ve spent at these camps have given me an idea of what heaven looks like, and it blows my mind to think that heaven will be even better.

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     Thank you for giving me the privilege of serving on Work Crew twice, at Saranac Village and Lake Champion.  In these heavenly places, I learned what it means to be a servant, what it means to be an encouraging and Christ-like friend, and what it means to find your strength in the Lord.  The four weeks I spent at Saranac and three weeks I spent at Lake Champion were without a doubt among the best of my life and I know it was an incredible act of God’s grace that brought me into both of them.  The friendships I made will last forever, and I can’t wait for us all to be reunited in heaven.

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     Finally, thank you for showing me what community looks like.  While the ministry at my high school is mostly outreach, which introduces those who don’t follow the Lord to who He really is, YoungLife provided me with quite a few incredible friendships that gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to follow the Lord together.  I’m so grateful for the Bible study groups, long chats and Cookout after Campaigners, dinners at Kyle’s house for Wyldlife leaders, and Taco Dog quesadillas that stemmed from this ministry.  I am who I am because of these people.

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You will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m forever grateful for you, SHS YoungLife.  Eternity looks different because of the way God uses this ministry.

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