Building Deep Relationships Opens Door for Sharing the Gospel
October 12, 2020
FORT MEADE, Md. — School closures related to COVID-19 have pushed marginalized students closer to the brink of failure, but Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) is standing in the gap through its tutoring program in the communities feeding into the Anne Arundel Public School System feeding into Fort Meade, a U.S. Army installation in Maryland.
YFC Campus Life Military Director Chris Martin works part time as a substitute teacher in two public schools operated at Fort Meade. Immediately after he started subbing, he observed extra challenges the schools face. In an article published in the Capital Gazette (Sep. 05, 2019) Students at Meade High, with an 83% minority student population, were 3 times as likely to face arrest in school than the rest of Anne Arundel County. New leadership in the schools is working hard to effectively turn the tide for all students. YFC hopes to come alongside as a partner to facilitate those changes beginning with after school one-on-one tutoring.
Martin says the challenges are a golden opportunity for YFC to demonstrate God’s love in practical ways, because solving practical crises can lead to sharing the gospel to solve spiritual crises.
“I don’t think these kids will come to YFC for Jesus,” Martin said. “I think they’ll come to YFC because we help meet specific needs they have in their own lives — that is what drew me to Christ.”
The depth of the academic problem became evident when Martin discovered that one seventh grader didn’t know her 3 times tables in math.
“I said, ‘Do you know what four times two is?’” Martin said. “She said ‘Six.’ I said, ‘Yeah, four plus two is six, but if we multiply…’ — she desperately wanted to learn, was not disruptive at all but totally disengaged. I believe with direction from the schools we can help facilitate students like her get back on track.”
Stories like this are why YFC is helping students learn the skills and make the grades necessary to advance successfully through the school system.
“That is a real need,” Martin continued. “I know this isn’t a secret to anybody, but students are being promoted without the skills to manage at the next grade level. YFC is not here to curse the darkness. We are here to light a candle in a student’s life…one at a time.”
Martin is recruiting Fort Meade’s service members and dependents, along with like-minded civilians who are Christ-followers to help pour into the lives of students through the tutoring ministry.
“We’re getting the soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors from Fort Meade. Their units encourage them to go out and do something productive in the community,” Martin said. “Whether someone is able to commit 1 hour per week or 8, the need is real. While there are few to no extrinsic rewards the intrinsic rewards never seize. The joy in knowing one has made a significant difference is mind-blowing!”
Youth For Christ staff and volunteers like Martin 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. Martin recognizes that because struggling students have been pushed to Zoom-based education instead of in-person instruction, the deeper connection will come through relationship building centered on the felt need of an education.
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 day-to-day life in order to lead people to Christ. For more information, visit 3Story.org.
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.
To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.