Dear Ministry Partner,
In 2013 I began volunteering for Wyldlife (Young Life for middle school students) in Joplin where I led at East Middle School. I had been to the lunchroom only a handful of times to visit students and was still learning how to be a good leader. At that point, I really thought the best way to reach students was to make sure they thought I was the coolest person in the room. At 18, I remember thinking that would be easy.
On my next trip to the lunchroom I began making my rounds to the students sitting at the tables, saying hi, convincing them of how cool I was. I began to finally feel like I was making progress, that they would respect me, that I would earn the right to be heard by my coolness and use it to tell them about Jesus. As I began my stroll across the lunchroom to my next table I hadn’t notice that someone had spilled some water on the floor directly in my path. Then I felt my shoe give way and begin to slide through the puddle. As I was sliding, I did my best to catch myself from falling on the ground because what could possibly be less cool than falling in front of a bunch of people? I answered that question as I caught myself with my hands flat on the ground, butt in the air and my legs spread apart in nearly the splits causing a huge tear on the backside of my pants.
That’s right. In front of that whole middle school lunchroom, my pants ripped right down the middle.
I hadn’t prepared for this; no bible verse or training I had been through covered ripped pants and what happens when your students don’t think your cool anymore. As I collected myself and listened to the cacophony of laughter on my way out of the middle school, I realized I would probably never recover from this and began to make plans to never return to that school. My ministry was over before it ever got started. Thankfully that wasn’t true. I learned how to laugh at myself, how to build genuine friendships, and how lean on the Lord through times of adversity. 8 years later I’m now on staff with Young Life teaching others to do the same.
Around March last year, I felt like I was back in that lunchroom again; unprepared, exposed, with no training to figure out how to completely adapt our mission in the midst of a pandemic, schools closed, and no way to get our leaders into the world of kids. But again, with guidance from God, an incredible team of volunteers, and your incredibly generous support we did it; Small groups with no more than 10 people, an online talk show, zoom hangs with our students, drive-by parades, driveway lunches, lots of 1 on 1 intentional conversations about Jesus, and, of course, students being introduced to Jesus Christ and growing deeper in their Faith.
As we head into March of 2021 and into a bit of normalcy, I can’t help but start to look over my shoulder and worry for what may be lurking around the corner. I’m certain something will come. But as we did last year I am choosing to hold onto James 1, “Consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” and I’m asking you to continue to join us in the mission of Young Life through your prayer and generosity. Here is where we are at and where we are going:
Currently our ministry is made up of:
– 3 high schools in Southwest Missouri (Carl Junction, Joplin, and Carthage).
– 16 volunteers including 12 college-aged leaders, a local youth pastor, a high school educator and coach, and 3 career-aged adults. These leaders give so selflessly of their time and effort.
– 3 staff who lead and guide our ministry.
– A faithful Young Life committee consisting of 19 adults passionate about our three communities we serve.
– On average around 60 student interactions per week and 200 students we know by name and are praying for.
Our goals for 2021:
– Start Young Life College at MSSU and Capernaum (our ministry for students with special needs).
– Grow our leader team to 25 volunteers to help fuel our ministry.
– Take 40+ students to summer camp.
– Establish a club at each school.
– Begin development of Young Life in Neosho.
Thank you for all you’ve done to support us to this point and we look forward to your partnership this upcoming year! Be checking your email monthly for our newsletter and some other opportunities we are planning to show you are our appreciation!
Lane Freeborn Area Director SWMO Young Life