Friday night we attended a fundraising banquet for our local Youth for Christ worker and his ministry. In our little corner of the world, YFC has four staff workers, an administrator and three field workers serving a county so large that, even under the old system used by the phone company, it included three different area codes.
We’ve known Jeff for twenty years now. He was a youth pastor in a local church who was being laid off, and found a way to continue to serve students in the same town. Switching from a church-based ministry model to a parachurch model was a challenge during the first year, but the end result was that he fused together the best of both ministry paradigms.
His ministry extends far beyond anything in the Youth for Christ staff handbook, I’m sure. Hosting a 3-hour radio show on two stations. Working with the town ministerial association on special events. Doing pulpit supply for a variety of local churches. Writing faith-centered articles for the local newspaper. Volunteering at the local high school and middle school. Studying for an MDiv degree nearly completed. That’s in addition to YFC events such as a drop-in center, special events and lots and lots of one-on-one counseling.
All those activities, and other things that I don’t know about. I would never accuse Jeff of playing his cards close to his chest, though he doesn’t seek recognition. Rather, I think his left hand truly doesn’t know what his right hand is doing. Bottom line: We think his supporters truly get a lot of bang for their donation buck, and while we originally said we were going to skip the banquet this year, we turned out to show our support.
At the end of the night Jeff — ever frugal — passed out copies of his quarterly newsletter that would normally be mailed. He told us ahead of time that he’d broken the rules of newsletters by including ten stories of kids he’s worked with — present, recent past, and distant past — sharing their personal testimony of what Jeff and the ministry of YFC in general has meant to them and what God is doing in their lives.
Wow! I just finished reading the stories. A vibrant student ministry in our small town is changing lives that are ultimately changing the world. This ministry is bearing fruit. People are finding Jesus.
And as I folded the newsletter back into the envelope so my wife could read it when she got home, I thought, “How can anyone read this and not want to reach for their checkbook or credit card?” That, and “How can anyone not want to pray, to volunteer or otherwise ‘come alongside’ what the Holy Spirit is doing through dedicated, vocational leadership like this?”
I’m so glad we didn’t opt to skip the banquet this year. It would pain me to get the newsletter by mail a week later, read the stories, and feel that I missed an opportunity to be a very tiny part of all this.
Right now, where you live, there are people making a difference who can’t do it without your active support. Pray about your involvement through serving, giving, praying or all three!
For contact information on Northumberland Youth For Christ, click here.