Note: The following article was contributed by Tommi Meyer, Young Life committee member.
If you have ever been to a senior night at a Batesville High School sporting event, you may have heard Young Life listed as something that community teens are involved in. Maybe you were wondering, ‘What is Young Life and why are kids in our community involved?’
Or maybe you are a parent, and your teenager disappears on Wednesday nights for a few hours, asking for a couple bucks for McDonalds after something called Young Life. And you are thinking, ‘Young who?’ And, ‘Why does my kid suddenly talk about impacting other kids and have a new affinity for Big Macs?’
Fear not, you do not have to nail that slippery teen down for an explanation, the mystery can be explained!
First, what Young Life is not: Young Life is not an event. It is not an after school social club and most importantly it is not a government program created to suddenly change your teen into an agreeable and polite young being.
Young Life is about relationships. The adults behind Young Life recognize that the last thing our teens need or want is another event for their to-do list. While families are struggling to find time for the basics and may not always seem to “be there” for their kids, there are responsible adults who are willing and able to meet these kids where they are and help them navigate life - And navigate in the direction of Christ.
Young Life leaders focus on loving kids where they are, unconditionally and relentlessly. And they teach those kids to do the same for their friends.
When your teenager realizes that you are the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to them, and believe me, someday they will, it could be a Young Life leader who is there, quietly reinforcing the same values you have been praying your child adopts from your teaching. They are “another voice” - when yours doesn’t seem to be getting through.
Young Life leaders are adults of all ages that volunteer their time to “hang out” with our kids - being there at the football games, eating lunch with them at school, sitting with them at McDonalds, leading them in discussions about God and what that means for their lives or simply by praying with them when they need it most.
And just in case you didn’t know it, our kids are hungry for it. Hungry to be known, to be recognized as valuable for who they are, no matter what they do or don’t do. They are hungry to be around people who care for them, other than their parents or teachers. They want to know they really matter.
Young Life volunteers fill a critical gap that is created when parents have to let children grow into young adults. A time when we must watch those tender souls walk out into the big scary world just when those head strong teenagers are 100 percent certain that they, not their parents, know what’s best.
And just as parents cannot single handedly keep up with teenagers when their resources of time and stamina seem limited, Young Life cannot keep up with the need in the youth community here in southeast Indiana without help.
While we are running to keep up with our jobs, ours kids and all the other chaos that is everyday life, Young Life is running to keep up with a growing need that can only be met when the community partners with them.
And our community is doing it!
More than 100 people from Batesville, Lawrenceburg, Sunman, Greensburg, and surrounding areas decided that they wanted to know more and took action by attending Southeast Indiana’s Young Life Annual Fundraising Banquet. Twenty business owners joined the fight for our young people’s hearts and donated time and money for sponsorships. Those partnerships will go a long way toward growing the impact that Young Life has in our communities. With help, we can grow from impacting the lives of approximately 400 kids to even more!
As a parent of teenagers, I cannot tell you how grateful I am that there are adult volunteers who genuinely care for my kids by name. But as a member of the Young Life committee, I can tell you that we and all the Young Life volunteers are overjoyed that individual families and business owners want to impact youth in southeast Indiana as much as we do.
On behalf of Young Life volunteers, thank you. We are grateful you decided to run alongside us in the fight for the hearts of teenagers in our community.
If you are reading this and want to know how you can help, it’s simple. Start by visiting www.southeastindianayounglife.org. For those who are “technologically challenged” or don’t have a teenager to do the clicking for you, call 812-209-9075 and talk to one of our Young Life staff members.