As you may have heard, this last month H. Spees, former Executive Director of Youth For Christ from 1988-1998, passed away and went to be with Jesus. YFC has been blessed to have a number of godly, strong leaders steward the ministry and H. is a forerunner amongst them all. He was blessed with incredible vision and vigor for God’s kingdom, passion for the gospel message, and was driven by the love of God that breaks down walls and crosses barriers.
H. is specially credited with supercharging YFC’s commitment to every kid, in every part of town, with every background. His pastoral nature and spectacular giftedness in our community are missed.
H.’s vision for kingdom possibilities was unrivaled. H. thought about what the gospel meant for the poor, what it meant for leadership, what it meant for our city, for health care, for teens, and for the homeless. H. exemplified what Colossians 1:20 teaches – that through Jesus, God was reconciling all things to himself. That means people, institutions, relationships, and even the cracked pavement with weeds growing through it. The gospel lived out in its fullness was what I’ll remember H. for.
This last month at Youth For Christ we’ve seen even more growth in our programming and in kids’ lives. Not only have we seen God bring more kids into our midst than last year (we’re up 175%), but we’re also rivaling the highest year we’ve ever had over the last 15 years. Can we just pause and celebrate God about that?
One of the highlights from last month was a baptism at the Campus Life Center with three boys in our Group Life program. These boys have come to us from really tough pasts and family stories and have been full of questions as they brace for big life transitions.
Through a weekly bible study, the boys began to open up more and more and they even started going with staff to church. As Easter grew closer their YFC leader John asked if they had ever been baptized and if they felt led to. None of the boys had ever been baptized and with excitement they said that they wanted to as soon as possible.
In preparation for the day, John took each boy aside and asked why they wanted to get baptized. Each response was different but the commonality was that they wanted to move beyond the mistakes of the past and enter new seasons with confidence in their identity in Christ.
As John baptized the boys he could sense the nervousness and excitement bottled up inside. After the baptisms, the boys were filled with joy. The youngest gave him the biggest (man) hug he’s ever received from him before!
H.was proud that Youth For Christ has stayed tethered to the good news of Jesus. It is the primary need of every person. It influences every decision and aspect of life. Our mission at YFC will always be to proclaim Christ first and foremost, for “he is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28)
So now, because of the good news of Jesus our work with these boys continues on. They need a lot of support to walk out their new faith in every area of life. They need help with jobs, belief in their future, a host of new Christ-following habits, and the list goes on. But we believe God can do it. It is, in fact, what He does. He reconciles all things.
P.S. What a great Campus Life 5k! You can see photos on Facebook @CL5Krunwalk. Thank you sponsors and runners for fueling the ministry.