By Bria Isaacson, Contributing Writer
“I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t met you,” a student impacted by Youth for Christ (YFC) said. This student’s parents were both in prison at the time, but YFC taught him that he does not have to live in their legacy of crime, but that he can accomplish anything through Christ. This is the kind of life-changing group Asbury students are involved with.
YFC is an organization that focuses on serving and delivering the message of Christ to young people everywhere. The Asbury students in the Lexington chapter, led by Chris Millard, serve the community by volunteering in two Lexington schools: Winburn Middle School and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy.
Junior Rebecca Bolinger has been involved with YFC for almost two years. “We meet the needs of the school in an effort to form relationships with students in whatever they do,” she said. “We go to ball games and concerts instead of just tutoring them. We’re mentors.”
This perspective of servant leadership and encouraging students has become a relational ministry that impacts lives. Sophomore Rachel McClain, who has been volunteering with YFC at Winburn Middle for almost two years now, told the story of how one student really opened up to her and invited her to her quinceañera party. Because of this, she was able to experience a piece of the student’s culture and further build that relationship with the student, as well as with her family.
Ultimately, though, YFC’s goal is to use these relationships to share the love of Jesus. Bolinger has been able to do just that. “A girl told me about her boy problems. She got rejected and was not knowing what to do,” Bolinger said. “I was able to tell her ‘God loves you and that’s all that matters.’ She got to hear it in her time of need.” This student replied that she had been praying about it. Bolinger liked that she could encourage the student in her Christian faith. “It’s hard in high school to make your [Christian] walk your own,” she said. “Everyone needs mentoring, advice and a guide.”
Another important aspect of YFC is time of fellowship for volunteers. Every Sunday, volunteers meet, have Bible Study, eat dinner and worship as a community. This is McClain’s favorite part of YFC because of the fun environment and the lessons on leadership she has learned from Millard. “He’s taught me my own personal style of ministry,” McClain said. “I’m usually not aggressive in taking leadership roles, but I have no trouble getting in front of ten inner-city kids and leading game time. This is something I never thought I would do before all this.”
This year, McClain started co-leading Winburn’s after-school program. Through this, she has seen growth in the kids, as well as in herself. Bolinger has also grown in leadership, Millard said. “Towards the end of the semester before summer, I challenge people to take on leadership roles. Rebecca is now leading the team into a new school [STEAM].”
Sophomore Seth Heinss, who joined YFC in the fall of 2015, said the biggest thing he has learned is “how much influence a person can have with kids… We can give them hope and a future,” he said. In doing this, though, the commitment is high. “We are investing in kids and building relationships with them. [These are kids who] have had most people in their lives walk out, so we have to stick with it and not flake out on them,” Heinss said.
The act of sticking with it changes the lives of both students and volunteers forever. Millard shared a story of two Asbury students who graduated and received a phone call from the mother of a student they had helped through YFC. She told them that her daughter was in trouble at school and asked them to meet with her. The two not only agreed to this, but also advocated for her at school and convinced administration to take a more merciful approach in disciplining her. Now, the two meet with this student on a weekly basis and are helping her to navigate a tough situation at school.
This is the epitome of the YFC mission statement: every kid, one at a time. To learn more about how you can serve with YFC, contact Rachel McClain or Rebecca Bolinger.