(YM360 Note: Networking posts are designed to highlight individuals and ministries who are doing youth ministry, and doing it well. Danny Ferguson and his team at Youth Unlimited are those kinds of folks. We love how Danny articulates his vision and strategy in this article. But, just so you know, youthministry360 isn't officially affiliated with Youth Unlimited/Youth For Christ, and vice versa. They're just a really good ministry doing some really good work. We thought you should know.)
Youth Unlimited is a division of Youth For Christ that has been serving teens for over 50 years. Youth Unlimited is active in the lives of teens in over 120 countries in the world. As director for the Langley Chapter in Langley, British Columbia, my team and I are deeply invested in the lives of the youth in our area.
We believe we have a God-given dream that the youth in our city would have the means to live a healthy life: physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. We accomplish this in a few different ways. We seek to achieve our dream by intersecting in the everyday life experiences of young people in our community. We volunteer at students' schools.
Sometimes we're just a friendly face to talk to on a hard day. Other times we're the people handing them a cup of hot chocolate. But as we begin to befriend youth, we make an effort to invest in their lives beyond school. Oftentimes we'll take them out for a meal or a cup of coffee. We'll sit in local coffee shops with them as friends and mentors. It's in these times that we are able to find out about their individual needs and concerns.
Many of these conversations turn into revelations of abuse, violence, and sexual exploitation, among other heart-wrenching issues that these teens face everyday. Armed with this information, we live out our dream by serving as advocates, interceding on behalf of our new friends with their parents, school officials, local and federal government leaders, and, of course, in prayer. Here is where it gets crazy.
As we pray for specific young people, we've seen things start to happen in their lives. Unbelievable, God-sized things. One girl was an avid atheist. As we prayed she started having dreams about God. Another student was miraculously healed. We've seen God move in powerful ways in the lives of these teenagers.
In an attempt to further help our students, we've opened up our home, inviting students over for meals, conversation, and prayer. Some kids just come for the food, but others come because they are curious about how God intersects with life. We don't force these topics on them, but we do create an environment where they can explore the spiritual side of life together with us. God does the hard work of changing them As a result, we've witnessed life-change.
Some of these youth have been inspired to work with God to change the world. We've watched as they take on causes that help others, be it their friends, family, or the homeless in the community . . . some have even helped get prostitutes off the streets of Honduras.
However, the work is far from finished. These young people are often confused about life, and sometimes the difficulties they face continue to make them feel very alone. Although it can be a dark road at times, our team is committed to walk with them toward help, toward hope, and toward Jesus. It's a call that all youth workers share, one that we daily live out through Youth Unlimited in Langley.
- Danny and his team have a pretty precise vision that guides how they do youth ministry. If you have a vision statement in writing, consider sharing it with the YM360 community. You may be helping someone out who has yet to flesh out their vision in writing.