YFC Determined to ‘Address the Basic Need That Young People Struggle With—the Need to be Understood, Appreciated, and Loved’
November 29, 2021
Minot-bismarck-dickinson, N.D.— Parents, guardians, and teacher all across America are growing concerned with the state of the mental health of the nations’ youth. Recent studies indicate that many officials are calling for a national state of emergency over the dramatic spike of childhood mental health concerns. Young people of all ages report struggling with depression, isolation, and thoughts of suicide due to the current pandemic, leaving many wondering how to respond to this troubling trend.
For Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net), a fixture in the youth ministry community in America for the past 77 years, these startling numbers reinforce the importance of their mission to reach young people at pivotal moments in their lives and come alongside them, living life together while sharing the Gospel of Christ. One chapter, YFC Minot, is determined to address this national mental health crisis impacting America’s youth.
David Pellenwessel, executive director at YFC Minot, commented on their reach and mission in the community.
Pellenwessel commented, “Here at YFC Minot, we have a Campus Life program that started about 40 years ago, a Core ministry that mobilizes students to reach other young people in their schools, communities, and in other spheres of life, a Juvenile Justice Ministry (JJM), a YFC Nations ministry that reaches the Native American reservations, and a new Military Life program. All of these ministries all address the basic need that these young people are struggling with—the need to be understood, appreciated, and loved.”
Regarding the mental health issues affecting local youth, Pellenwessel stated, “One big issue that’s been hitting our community right now is the mental health epidemic for youth—suicide, depression, and drug use are at an all time high. This was a problem before Covid but the pandemic has only magnified it. We have been ministering directly to students after suicides and in the mental health unit to combat this issue. Hopefully we can get some of the students who are recovering from some of their hurt and their pain and whatever else that led them to a drug problem and get them plugged in with some YFC volunteers.”
In addition to this new outreach, YFC Minot is finding other ways to connect with youth. Pellenwessel shared, “Our Campus Life ministry spends a lot of time trying to reach local youth at a skate park nearby, and we met a kid there once that we shared some food with and told him the Gospel. He was very skeptical at first, and continually asked us if he was signing up to go to a church. We assured him that we were just there to love on him and show him that we cared. The next year, we went with our JJM to a local detention center and that same kid was there and remembered us all by name! He said that something stuck out to him and he accepted Christ right there in that jail cell. We were actually with him every step of the way out of incarceration, through his time on house arrest, and now he is a greeter at a local church and his life is completely changed.”
Pellenwessel concluded, “We try to be present and available to teachers, students, and parents, and just be a light in the community.”
YFC chapters impact thousands of communities across the nation, seeking out and serving youth from all walks of life. Young people are silently struggling through a wide variety of challenging issues—and through the YFC ministry God empowers, they see the living power of a loving God. YFC trains its leaders in a proven, relational ministry model called 3Story®, which encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while also sharing the stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of everyday life to lead people to Christ.
YFC 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 it is 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 137 chapters that impact communities across America.
To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.