Jeroen had no prior knowledge of Youth for Christ before he came to Chile, yet during his first weekend in Santiago he was encouraged by a friend through a friend to visit their youth centre, and that was the beginning of his experience with Youth for Christ.
He admits that after his first visit, he had reservations: “I was slightly apprehensive about getting involved and giving up part of my weekends to volunteer with the charity.”
Up until then he had never really seen himself as a great a person with youth. However, as the weeks went by and he continued to get involved, he found an amazing sense of happiness and peace through his work with the young people and the other passionate volunteers, especially as he got to know them better.
The mission of Youth for Christ and what it sets out to achieve were what Jeroen really began to appreciate. Giving hope, love, joy and guidance to young people, many of whom are in such need of it, really spoke to him. “Teaching them the values that Jesus taught, and encouraging them to live those values is so important, especially when they can so easily be led the wrong way.”
Jeroen recalled one Saturday in particular, when there was the opportunity for those in attendance to tell of any difficult experiences they had had, where they were thankful for the help of someone else or of God. Some of the older ones gave vivid testimonies, and then one of the youngest girls came forward. Before she could say a word, she burst into tears. Immediately she was comforted by the others. She hadn’t said a single word, yet she had felt the need to share such deep emotions with everyone. The little community at Youth for Christ had become her family.
Jeroen writes, “I feel Youth for Christ has become my family as well. Over the past few months I have realised how much I have needed Youth for Christ, just as the young people have needed it. It has become my sanctuary away from life’s stress and worries, and the simple Bible teachings we share with the young people never cease to teach me something new.”
Recently, Jeroen got involved with a basketball club for guys around his age, many of whom attended Youth for Christ when they were younger. Again, he was apprehensive about getting involved yet he was immediately accepted by them, “even though I was a ‘gringo’ outsider!”
And that sums up Youth for Christ for Jeroen and many of the other young people and leaders involved: It’s a family where everyone is accepted for who they are, through love for God and love for others.
Jeroen Bromilow, 21 (England)