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Young Life Changes Lives

By Linda CooperYoung Life 1 Young Life 3 Young Life 4 Young Life 5

Shelby-Tipton County Young Life is changing lives, according to high school students in the area involved with the group. The non-denominational Christian outreach ministry utilizes caring adult volunteers who work with high school students, building relationships through a range of activities to share the gospel of Christ.
Young Life volunteer and mom Tina Baltensberger noted, “Some of the young people involved in the program have never been to a church, but come to the club meetings.” The organization has been active in the Millington area for about six years, and for the first few years club meetings were held at Baltensberger’s home. .
As it has grown, the Young Life club at Millington Central High School now meets every Monday night at 7:02 p.m., at the banquet facility of the Commodore Village apartments at 4486 Babe Howard Blvd., the space donated by Smith Investments for the group’s use.
On a recent Monday evening, the atmosphere was loud, boisterous and full of energy as a diverse group of some 50-75 high school students gathered together to sing songs, see a humorous magic skit performed by Young Life volunteers, play a few team-oriented and competitive games, and hear a gospel message delivered by Luke Sadler. Sadler is the area director and sole paid staffer for Young Life in North Shelby and South Tipton County.
“I like to call it controlled chaos,” Sadler said. “I love the kids. Young Life transformed me in high school and college, and it’s a privilege to see other kids transformed.” This is Sadler’s fourth year working with Young Life in this area, and his seventh year with the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based nonprofit organization.
Nicholas Harris, 17, and a senior at MCHS who hopes to attend Morehouse College next fall noted, “Young Life is life changing. It’s relaxing and gets you away from whatever you’re going through. It’s my stress reliever.”
In addition to the club meetings, Young Life also hosts campaigners, or small group meetings dedicated to study, prayer and service.
Tuesday evening,  some 200 community residents were on hand to support the local Young Life organization at its annual fundraising banquet held at the NSA-Mid-South Pat Thompson Center.
Kadasha Allen began attending Young Life club meetings in 9th grade. Now 16, and a junior at MCHS, she told the crowd about attending a camp the organization hosts which offers fun and adventure, as well as opportunities for spiritual growth, work and service to others. “We woke up every morning talking to God and learning how to serve God,” Allen said.
As part of a Young Life work crew made up of teen Young Life Christians like Allen, she relayed her experience helping a group of young teen moms brought to the camp, who had yet to know Christ. “It changes the mom’s life, and their baby’s life, too. I learned how lucky and blessed I was. Many of the teen moms had no family to support them.”
Jeremy Calico, a 1997 MCHS graduate spoke of his experiences as a Young Life volunteer working with the Memphis Young Life organization, primarily with Manassas High School students. “Being a Young Life leader offers a snapshot of Christ, coming down in the flesh and into their neighborhoods.”
Sadler explained that Young Life often utilizes humor as a bridge to come across to teenagers. “We like to laugh, and value humor in Young Life. Laughter opens up the heart for love to come in. It is a sin to bore anyone with the gospel.”
That humor was  evident at Tuesday’s banquet, as Young Life volunteers performed two skits demonstrating yoga ballet and synchronized swimming, complete with tutus and shower caps.
Sadler added, “We meet the kids in school and where they work and live with their families. As leaders we bring our flaws and fears, and work to form authentic friendships so the kids may be more receptive to hearing the gospel.”
Justin Cole, a Young Life volunteer and teacher at Tipton-Rosemark Academy expressed Young Life’s need for prayers, time and money to fulfill its mission. He thanked local business sponsors in the community for their support including Patriot Bank, Reed Family Dentistry, AN-I.V. Home Infusion, Bethany K. Huffman CPA Accounting and Tax Services, Boatwright Pharmacy, Commodore Villages, the Peel Law Firm, First Citizens National Bank and Home Superior Products, Inc.
However, Young Life still needs to raise $50,000 to meet its annual operating budget, as well as needs volunteers as it works to expand into other area high schools including Tipton-Rosemark, Munford, Covington, Brighton and Bolton.
“If you love Jesus and have a heart to love kids, we need your time and money to change the lives of kids, so they can experience a community of love, and Jesus showing up in their world,” Sadler emphasized.
Shelby-Tipton County Young Life committee members Jesse and Carol Smith said they support Young Life to do “anything for the kids.” They added, “We heard it was a good organization. With all the challenges teens face growing up in today’s world, Young Life may be the only source of support for many of them.”
For more information about Young Life call 215-4481 or visit their website at www.shelby-tiptoncounty.younglife.org. The website includes links to their blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as several ways to donate, including through the Kroger Community Rewards program. Using a Kroger Shoppers Card, persons can designate Young Life as their charity of choice, and Kroger will donate five percent of all purchases to Shelby-Tipton County Young Life.

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