If you saw them at night drinking under the bridges and smoking on the streets what would you do? Avoid them, walk the other way, call the cops, complain to the neighbours? I might. But not Gary, James and Mykala, Youth for Christ’s (YFC) staff in Comber, Northern Ireland. No, they are on the streets, carrying a backpack of hot chocolate and meeting them right where they are at.
Throwing open the doors of their YFC youth centre on weekend nights the same young people coming spilling in. They are not coming for the high-tech, cutting edge, fancy facility—because it is not. It is small, had its better days, and could use an infusion of cash to repair and remake it. There are a few video games, a few old couches, but not even free food. So what are they really coming for?
Jill and I got to visit the YFC center in Comber recently when we visited our daughter, Mykala, and were very impressed. There had to be 40-50 young people in this tiny space. Young people who we were told don’t have a lot of hopes or dreams. Young people who have a sense there is something better out there, but who have no real hope of escaping their often sad experiences. Young people who have little or no understanding of the Jesus we celebrate this Easter.
And yet they come. Why? They come because they are accepted there. They come because of the relationships. They come because they feel loved and cared about. They come because Jesus is meeting them there through Gary, James and Mykala.
“I wouldn’t mind knowing more about what it means to be Christian,” one young man said to one of the volunteers earlier. That is worth celebrating! But it is a long path to get there with many of these kids, who are unchurched, post-modern, post-Christian. And yet….they are looking and seeking and God is pursuing and loving them through YFC and the staff there.
The same thing is happening in all sorts of different ways all over this world of ours through YFC. In over 130 nations YFC staff and volunteers are going out to young people, inviting them in, loving them and sharing the life-changing message of Jesus with them.
You are there too—when you pray, when you give, when you partner in reaching young people around the world.