Teens Tempted to Despair Find Hope as YFC Programs Share ‘Non-Judgmental Love of God’

‘It Was in the YFC Chapel in Detention Center. That’s When I Really Started to Feel the Lord, His Presence. I Found a Sense of Peace.’

September 28, 2020

KANSAS CITY — Long known for a myriad of ministries that reaches teens with the love of Jesus, Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) is changing an entire generation — from teen parents to juvenile offenders — one relationship at a time.

Youth For Christ — through ministry arms such as Campus Life, Deaf Teen Quest, Campus Life Military, City Life, Parent Life, and Juvenile Justice Ministry — extends non-judgmental love and support to teens whose choices and circumstances might tempt them to despair. YFC helps teens overcome that temptation by sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with them.

“I was totally lost, really hopeless and ashamed of what I was doing with my life,” one teen served by YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry said. “I was in a really hopeless spot at a time where I didn’t really care what happened with me. It was in the YFC chapel and detention center. That’s when I really started to feel the Lord, his presence. I found a sense of peace.”

Helping such teens find peace in Christ, by introducing them to the open arms of the God of the Bible, is the motive behind YFC’s ministries.

“Our job is to come into that area and to just love them and be present with them, to let them know that this is not the end of the road,” said Alex Mathew, YFC Kansas City Executive Director.

“Those moments are the moments that we live for, because it’s God showing up,” said Curtis Wright, YFCKC Director of Juvenile Justice Ministries.

Over 160 YFC chapters seek out and serve youths from all walks of life, exposing YFC workers to the hard life circumstances that many teens silently struggle through across America — and exposing those teens to the supernatural power of a loving God.

The relationships YFC is building with teens is proof that YFC’s mission and vision are God-sized.

“It’s not a man. It’s not a Ted talk. It’s the Holy spirit actually impacting the hearts of kids,” Wright said. “Only God can do that. Now we know that we were planting seeds and we see them grow.”

“It has been so encouraging to know that the church is God’s plan A and there is no plan B,” Mathew said.

Another ministry is YFC Parent Life, which reaches out to teen moms and dads who are pregnant or already parenting and offers food, childcare, diapers, parenting resources and training in an effort to provide mentoring and a sense of Christ-centered community amongst teen parents.

YFC Kansas City Executive Director Alex Mathew believes that the real challenge for teens today rests not in substance abuse or criminal activity, but in the erosion of family.

“We realized we don’t have a crime problem,” Mathew said. “We don’t have a drug problem. We don’t have a prison problem. We have a father problem in this country. We have a family problem in this country. And so we just want to model that in Youth For Christ.

“Parent Life started when we saw so many different prayer requests of young people needing help with parenting, and when we saw that, we had to do something about it,” he continued.

YFC Parent Life was launched in Kansas City because of the relationships staff and volunteers made with the kids they met in the Juvenile Justice Ministry. YFC has the non-judgmental love of Jesus in its DNA, says Stephanie Magee, Superintendent of Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center.

“Everybody needs that sense of no matter how much I mess up, I got somebody that will continue to love me and continue to just embrace me without judgment,” Magee said. “And I think YFC brings that non-judgmental love of God.”

Youth For Christ staff and volunteers like Mathew are encouraged by the YFC 3Story concept, which grows out of the belief that kids will be reached for Christ when they are met at their point of need, and as workers connect their stories with Jesus’s story. Mathew knows that the ministry efforts of Youth For Christ are changing lives, and being involved in meaningful ministry is worth getting out of bed for every day.

Youth For Christ’s 3Story encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while telling stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of day-to-day life in order to lead people to Christ. For more information, visit 3Story.org.

To watch the YFC Parent Life story, click here.

Nationally, Youth For Christ is telling inspiring stories like these through#YFCBeTheStory, an initiative to help spread the word across the nation about how YFC chapters are making a difference in their communities.

Youth For Christ has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has more than 160 chapters impacting communities across America.

Visit the Youth For Christ media page here. Learn more about Youth For Christ at its website, www.yfc.net, Facebook and Instagram pages, Twitter feed @yfcusa or on Vimeo.

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To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.