Young Life at work in Abbotsford
by Debbie Cazander
Having had its’ start in New Westminster in 1954, and presently at work in more than 50 communities across Canada, there is now a Young Life ministry in Abbotsford working actively with youth at a local high school.
With the premise of the organization “living in the everyday world of teens,” Rick Ball, a staff associate in his second year, is doing just that with students at Yale secondary. He coaches volleyball every day and is a visible and helpful presence around the school. Ball, and others within Young Life, seek to be a positive influence for the youth they meet and Ball says “I see the impact an older person can have on a young person.”
He believes for a young boy or girl to even have just one person who is a positive influence can be of great significance in his or her life. The organization is relationally focused and the leaders share their time with the youth of a school in a variety of activities, including music, art or sports and will also help around the school as needed.
They try to meet students where they are at and encourage the attendees to “come as you are.” Ball says “We want to enter into their world.”
The outreach, although having a Christian foundation, does not encourage proselytizing but rather encourages leaders to become a ‘safe person’ for the youth. The emphasis is on building relationships and even friendships.
During the course of their time together a young person may ask the Young Life leader about his or her faith. It is hoped youth will see that faith demonstrated in thelives of the Young Life leaders.
The leader will briefly share about the love of Jesus Christ and invite the young person to meet together in a group setting with other youth, perhaps to play sports and to listen to a short talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Young people who express a desire to learn even more are welcomed to attend a Bible study.
For some young people this is the first time they have heard some of the basics of the Christian faith and as Ball says, “we want to reach out to kids who haven’t heard the gospel.”
Many of the youth Ball and other Young Life leaders meet have questions about faith and despite being very “sociable” on their electronic mediums are often feeling very down and lonely.
Young Life has a National Board of Directors and an office in Langley. As a non profit organization, donations are always very welcome and more information can be found at younglife.ca.