Reaching Teens Through Partnership
Young Life is an international, non-profit organization across middle schools, high schools, and college campuses. The mission is simple: reach and disciple teenagers for Christ and help them to grow in their faith. This may look differently across each of the 90 countries Young Life is established in, but it starts with going to where the kids are and building a personal relationship with them. First Baptist Church of Alexandria (FBCA) first became involved with Young Life in March of 2017, when Young Life Area Director (Alexandria) Carlos Dimas invited Wayne Jenkins, Missions Pastor at FBCA, to help kick off a Young Life Club at T.C. Williams High School. The school happens to be less than a mile from the church campus, making it a natural fit from the beginning.
Young Life Club is often described as a party with a purpose. It is a fun atmosphere for students with games, food, and raffle prizes. However, each time they gather, a message from the Bible is shared. After attending and volunteering with this newly formed Young Life Club for a few months, Eden Buba, a teacher in the International Academy at the high school, requested that an additional Club form to specifically minister to international students. FBCA volunteers shifted their focus to this new Club. Over the course of the past two years, attendance at the Young Life Club for internationals has grown drastically and many nationalities have been welcomed. At any given after school Club at the T.C. Williams campus, you can expect to hear multiple languages in the room. These are students who have recently immigrated to the U.S., are still learning the English language, and most have been surrounded by Muslim beliefs their entire lives. Yet, they are at Young Life Club to hear about Jesus. And they keep coming back, week after week, often bringing friends. This time of fun and fellowship is the perfect tool to build relationships with the students.
An offshoot of Club is Young Life Campaigners, a gathering for those students who wish to grow in their faith through Bible study, service, and leadership. This is a time for leaders to get to know the students better and dive deeper into studying God’s word. Discussions about who Jesus is and what it means to be a part of His church take place. FBCA has hosted Campaigners at the church campus for two years. With the close proximity to the school, the church’s youth garage was an ideal location for kids to gather. New friendships are formed and students experience a concentrated time of Bible study while enjoying a meal together. Volunteers like David Harsh, who makes this time with the kids a priority, play a vital role in the success of Campaigners.
Most recently, a handful of mission-minded members from FBCA spearheaded the formation of a Young Life Committee, solely designed to sustain the Club at T.C. Williams. The moral support that this newly-formed Alexandria Committee provides to the team of leaders is crucial. While the volunteer leaders are on the front lines sharing the gospel, committee members are working in the background to ensure that these leaders have the support they need to make Young Life fruitful.
In July, a group of 22 high schoolers from T.C. Williams traveled to Lake Champion, New York, to attend a week-long Young Life camp. Among this group, 10 nationalities and seven languages were represented. According to the students, one of the highlights from the trip was being able to spend a week with many diverse people from various backgrounds. Young Life Camp is known for outdoor adventures and the captivating way in which they share the gospel so that students from all walks of life are able to understand and feel God’s love. FBCA was fortunate to be able to sponsor several kids and help them attend camp this summer.
Young Life Club, Campaigners, and the Committee all work together to reach kids in the hopes of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them, all while partaking in fun adventures along the way. To become involved or to learn more about FBCA’s ministry with Young Life at T.C. Williams, contact Wayne Jenkins ( ) or Abbey Jack ( ).
Wayne Jenkins is the Pastor of Discipleship & Mission at First Baptist Church of Alexandria and Abbey Jack is the Missions Associate. Both serve in leading this ministry from the staff. Lily Dobson, who serves on staff with NorthStar as the Liaison to International Churches, also works closely with this ministry helping to connect the international students with international churches.