Young Life, Relationships, and Finding Christ

She just started crying. She shared how frustrated she was feeling with life and how discontented she felt. She was eager to learn about Jesus and wanted to let Him inform who she was, not the reputation she had been given by everyone else.

This story begins with Young Life, a ministry that works to introduce young people to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. The ministry is led by adult leaders who build friendships and relationships with students where they are—at football practice, at the mall, or at school. The deep relationships that form in Young Life have the potential to change lives forever.

Lexi Wilson, a member here at City Church, has been a Young Life leader at Hanover High School for six years. During that time she has seen God work through the relationships that have been built.

She says, “It’s incredible to watch the Lord develop a hunger for himself in others. Sometimes it’s dramatic—something that happens so fast and in such an impossible way that you see God’s power move so fiercely through people's hearts, and other times it’s a slow growth—and you get to watch as kids chew more and more on the Gospel and what it means in their life.”

Lexi recalled one particularly amazing story of a group of young girls who she had worked with. She explains that they were “a bit wild, extremely misunderstood and loved to cause trouble.” Lexi patiently reached out to them only to be rebuffed until one of the girls (let’s call her Erin) came to her after the girls had a fight. She was tired and wanted something different and was beginning to understand that was Jesus. 

Lexi was thrilled and says, “She was constantly texting/calling me asking me questions about scripture and it was so cool to watch the ways that the Lord was transforming her heart. She was on fire!”

Erin’s friends were less enthusiastic, though. Lexi encouraged and supported her through being teased and hurt by her friends. She told her that they could see what Jesus had done in her life by the way she responded. That advice could not have been more providential.

Erin had been growing closer to Christ through the Campaigners group, a weekly gathering for youthwho wish to learn more or grow in their faith through study, service and leadership. The annual Campaigners Christmas party was coming up, and Erin’s friends had discussed attending. Erin struggled with this thought and shared her fears with Lexi, but with some encouragement she called the girls to invite them to the party to let them know they were welcome. To Lexi’s astonishment all of the girls came to the party.

The next part of the story speaks to the incredible work being done in these small groups. Lexi explains what happened at the party: 

“During the party we took time to go around and each share what the Lord was doing in our hearts. The girl who was sort of ring leader of the group—let’s call her Sarah—mentioned that she was at a crossroads and she wanted to learn more. While others started sharing, she just started crying. I approached her afterwards and we made plans to get dinner the next night. We talked, and she shared how frustrated she was feeling with life and how discontent she felt. Sarah was eager to learn about Jesus and wanted to let Him inform who she was, not the reputation she had been given by everyone else. That night we prayed together in the parking lot for her to start her relationship with Jesus. It was so humbling to watch how the Lord used every person in that story to draw these girls to himself—especially encouraging to watch how Erin pursued these girls despite the hurt she had felt from them and how it changed their lives eternally.”

God is truly using the relationships at Young Life to love the young students in the Richmond community. The Young Life team at Hanover High School has three leaders for the 1,200 students enrolled. The large group meeting is called Club and is held once a week for 10 weeks out of the semester for the 50 to 80 kids in attendance. Campaigners meets every Thursday morning with about 20 to 30 students in attendance. 

Regarding how City Church could be praying for Young Life, Lexi said, “We would love prayer for the Spirit to continue moving deeply in kids hearts and that they would show Jesus to their friends in response to His great love for them!”