Bringing the hope of Jesus to youth in need
March 15, 2022
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— For over 75 years,Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) has built lasting relationships with youth by coming alongside them during pivotal moments and pointing them towards Christ. Executive Director of YFC San Joaquin Valley Jill Denton recently spoke about their vision to partner with other organizations in the area in order to better reach youth with the Gospel.
Denton commented, “God did not create Youth For Christ as a stand-alone entity. The original founders all saw the value in working together to reach lost youth. Here in the San Joaquin Valley, we continue to affirm that position and belief. Together we are better. Together we are what God always intended. As I assumed the role of Executive Director, the connections between ministries like Youth For Christ, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), YL (Young Life), and area youth groups was mostly non-existent. I felt like God was asking me to reunite the youth pastors in my area and renew our cohesiveness by bringing them back to together on a regular basis. Be it fellowship, transparency, mutual accountability, or joined resources and events, every youth leader in the area has something to gain and something to offer this kind of Kingdom minded collaboration.”
Denton described the movement as the call to bring local support together for the cause of bringing the gospel to youth who are desperate for the hope of Jesus. In San Joaquin County, secondary schools average 1500 students, and roughly 75% are not in an active relationship with Christ, according to Denton. The partnership between like-minded organizations coming together and uniting under the banner of Christ is vital to bringing the gospel to the youth who so desperately need it.
Within the widespread movement, the emphasis is still on relationships. YFC San Joaquin Valley has been building relationships with youth in the area for over six decades. Denton reflected on the long-standing programs of Youth For Christ, each one focused on a different youth segment and seeking to build and grow strong relationships which lead young people to consider a relationship with Jesus.
Recently Denton joined efforts with Alex Edfort, Youth Director at Bear Creek Community Church, to launch Vision 209. “We are bringing together youth leaders from San Joaquin County to share ideas, learn from each other and create community. The informal meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at The Well, a new gathering place in Stockton that inspires connection, collaboration, and creativity through coffee, music, and the arts. Alex and I are super excited because attendance doubled after our first meeting. We are all starving for personal connection and can’t wait to see how God is going to use us to inspire change in the hearts of our young people.”
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 over 130 chapters that impact communities across America.