Pekin Campus Life

This is not a Farewell

Leading up to my sabbatical last summer, there was a stirring indication that my time as the leader for Pekin Campus Life might be coming to an end. Coupled with a dream Ky and I have had of retreating to the mountains of Colorado when we retire, opportunities began to arise.

I guess our ‘later’ dreams were challenged as we began to investigate whether ‘later’ was actually sooner. And encouragingly enough some pieces began to fit. Since March, Ky has accepted a job in Colorado, we purchased a piece of land there for a fraction of asking price and our home here in Pekin sold without listing. Whew, all of those things were such a relief!

It has been an honor to call Campus Life work and Pekin home for the past 10 years. Along with serving on the team prior to employment, it’s been an incredible 15 years of ministry. It feels almost selfish of me to not pass this on so someone else can share in the joy of how God works through relational ministry in Pekin. The word ‘work’ doesn’t really describe it. Calling Youth for Christ my vocation has allowed me to take my ordinary life and live an everyday mission of helping teens discover a relationship with Jesus. 

But as the title states, this is not a farewell…

Sure, Ky, Norton and I are moving, and won’t be physically here but we’re still ‘here’ because relationships are not tied to proximity. We hope to make a home there soon and we’d love to have you stay over as our guest as soon as possible.

Pekin Campus Life isn’t going anywhere. Your Youth for Christ leadership is still committed to ministry in Pekin. We’re not ready to announce the who, what, or when’s of the transition but a plan is in place. Also, my employment with Youth for Christ is not over. I will transition into a remote role, supporting the Peoria team in marketing, communication and technology.  

So there it is, my attempt to wrap up 15 years of ministry in 400 words or less. Ky and I would covet your prayers in this transition. Lives were and will continue to be changed by God through this ministry!

Complacency

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We all like our conveniences and comforts. High school students aren’t any different. It’s easy for them to come to the same place every week, hang out with the same people and be generally comfortable. But Campus Life is most successful when people from different backgrounds get together and find community with people they normally wouldn’t spend time with. 

Over this long winter complacency set in. New faces became rarer and it’s something we needed to talk about. We did something we’d hadn’t done before. We pulled back the curtain to share with students the fundamentals of Campus Life. That our hope was to go where students are, build a rapport with them, earn the right to speak into their life, show them The Gospel in a real and tangible way pointing them both to Jesus and the local church. We explained the kind of students we want to see at Campus Life, often don’t quite fit in anywhere else.

The challenge was accepted and there was even more dialogue as the night was ending. 

The next week Evan shows up at the invitation of a fellow student. It didn’t take long to introduce him around. Evan was enthusiastic to make new friends and sit down for a snack. A couple of leaders made a really good connection and he returned the next week!

It’s a big win to have Evan be a part Campus Life with us as well as the others that friends are inviting. It’s also a win for students to hear a message and act on it for the benefit of their friends.

Please take a moment right now and pray for Evan and those like him and the leaders working to bring them a hope and life in Jesus.


Just a few spots left for meals!

Most of our dinners are provided by friends in the community. If you’d like to bring us a meal or send dinner to us, we’d love to eat whatever you send our way. We’re not picky and it would be great if you stayed to eat with us too. To bring us a meal pekincl.com/meal or call Jarrod!

Grounded

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Research shows 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. We find this to be true when it comes to high school ministry as well. When a new student shows up to Campus Life for the first time it’s typically because a friend gives a recommendation or extends an invitation.

Things were different for Sam, a sophomore at PCHS. He came to Campus Life because his mom made him. She told Sam he would be grounded if he didn’t at least try it. Sam’s a great student and a generally trouble free kid so his parents never really had a reason to ground him. However, he obliged his orders and showed up at Campus Life one week.

At first Sam appeared to be shy and introverted as he kept his interactions to a minimum. But over the course of his first semester he began to participate more and more. And by summertime Sam was ‘all in’ and went to YFC Camp with a group of his newfound friends.

Through YFC Camp his eyes were opened to faith in a different way than he ever experienced. The way he lived and acted began to change. He started to invite his friends to Campus Life so they could experience the same life change he did. The next summer he brought one of those friends along to YFC Camp and now their life is starting to change too!

It’s Sam’s senior year and Campus Life is still a big part of his life. Every week he and a ministry leader work out at the gym and then work through a Bible study together. 

As the only time I can recall a student being so strongly urged to try out Campus Life. I wouldn’t recommend it for most but in the case Sam’s life is forever marked by God because of it.

 

Woah

Whoa, << Test First Name >>

stole

cutting

jealously

unhappy

screwed

mistreated

pregnancy

unsure

worthless

empty

violence

drugs

loneliness

inadequacy 

broken

failure

depressed

crash

self-hatred

sadness

lost

anxiety

rejection

smoking

numb

death

lies

careless

hiding

abuse

drowning

overdose

hatred

anger

family

cutter

lonely

uneasy

lust

alcohol

confused

sex

hurtful

unloveable

deceit

mess

self-doubt

emotionless

dead

faker

pride

idolatry

suicide

bipolar

parents

darkness

pornhub

pills

unnoticed

liar

hypocritical

rape

sad

stuck

inconsistent

uncertainty

confused

shame

alone

unpredictable

fear

controlled

 

 

Woah, it’s right there in black and white. We gave students the chance to anonymously share their secrets in just one word. I also have some secrets up there. Maybe there are some words up there that could apply to you.  Can I go as far to say “our secrets”? Because haven't we all had secrets? Secrets and sins so big it felt like we couldn't bring them to God?

Here's the beautiful message we shared with these brave teens from Ephesians 2:4&5. But God… 

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead."

Understood in the context of God's gift of grace, those words can lose their powerful hold of guilt and shame.

So these are the very real secrets and painful issues students are facing on a daily basis. And because of you, we get to continue to lead them towards God, who is bigger than their secrets.

 

Thanks for your part in sharing Hope and Truth with young people.

Monday is the Day!

The Big Day!

The Big Day!

“Monday is the day! Can you bring a camera?” He texted out of the blue one night, after many weeks of waiting. We showed up at the courthouse a week later, not knowing what to expect but excited none the less. 

I haven’t attended many court hearings but I'd imagine very few go this well. Both sides were in agreement, full of anticipation and it almost seemed unnecessary to have a preceding.

The judge asked: "Young man, is this what you want?" 

Kevin answered: “Yes, it is.” 

The judge then asked: "And Mrs. Smith, do you agree to raise Kevin as you would your own son?" 

She quickly answered, “Of course, he's already been living as my son.”

A few quick signatures and the adoption proceedings were over.  After nearly a decade in the foster care system, Kevin had found a forever family with his aunt. Family can have many forms, such as an aunt caring for a nephew as her own son.

Kevin also knows the family of Christ through Youth for Christ. This is demonstrated to him week after week by our team of leaders and students in Pekin. And people like you who continue to pray and give to make all this possible. Thanks for being a part of the family.


As 2015 ended, we told all who would listen, “YFC finances are behind”. We prayed and we asked for a generous December. And Then … It Happened. People gave a bunch. We finished our 1/2-year budget of $485,000 ahead by 2%. Thank You Friends. Thank You Jesus! We hope you will continue generously, because Jan-March income is typically lower than the rest of the year. Wow. That was big. Happy New Year!!!

- Dan L

Where Everything Changes

Top of the mountain

Like a good neighbor, what’s in your wallet, I’m lovin’ it...catchy slogans and all memorable, but are they all true? We say YFC Camp; Where everything changes...

We pay a high price to take students to YFC Camp and I believe God uses it. But instead of me telling you that our slogan is more than words, I'd like you to hear from students who worked hard all summer to be able to go.

I’ve realized it’s not always about me and when I’m not always making it about me I can focus on helping and caring for my friends.

I’m not hanging around bad friends as much.

A change for me is that I just think about God more, I feel connected closer and that I actually have a relationship vs Him just existing! Things have kinda gotten worse just because family things but I've been trying to see the positives.

My relationship with Christ hasn't been growing like it should so I need to work on it and keep up with it.

Please take a moment to pray right now for these students and that the seeds God planted would grow. We know that change can be good, bad, difficult, easy...but we know God is faithful through it all. Pray these students begin to learn this and can point back to YFC Camp 2015 as when it all began to change...

15 Weeks of YFC Camp

From 2006...to 2015

From 2006...to 2015

There’s something very special about camp. I should know, this years will mark my 15th week of YFC Camp in my 9 years with Campus Life. I’m thankful to have seen God at work through different lenses serving on the leadership. In this I’ve seen many lives change through God’s work at camp over the last decade.

Life change isn’t limited to the high school students we take either. I’ve seen God work in my life and the adults we take too.  

I just realized I’m the age as leaders who were kind and patient with me when I was a camper. I guess it’s my turn.

I’ve sorted some things out with my family, I can move back closer to home now.

It feels like I’ve wasted the last 10 years of my life not being part of this ministry.

I came to camp to tell God I was done with Him but He wouldn’t let me go.

Please take a moment and pray wherever you are for the adults and the students who will attend YFC Camp in 2015. It’s a big deal to have you along for the ride.


We’re not done yet!

We have spent the summer raising money to help send students to camp who can’t afford it. We still have gaps that need filled to fully fund this trip. Would you consider giving a special gift to help us fill in some of those gaps. Your gift could mean a lifetime of difference for a student who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend YFC Camp.  Thanks!

Come Swing with Me

As the season warms and the sun stays out a little longer at night, we find ourselves spending more outside during Campus Life. Instead of racing towards the door, students show up and spend their time on the lawn. A few weeks ago, one student says to another: hey, come swing with me.

I took notice of this tiny gesture and weeks later it still has me thinking. It was kind, it was nice, it was love shown to a student who seldom feels like he fits in.  Usually I can tell stories about leaders reaching out students, but this is different.  This was an upperclassmen who noticed a student who spends a lot of time wonder why they don’t fit in.  This still has me welled up with pride.

It reminds of the way Jesus noticed Zacchues.  It reminds me of love shown to us from God, “even while we sinners.”  It reminds me of exactly why we dedicated our lives to this ministry, of raising up life long followers of Jesus.

Please take a moment to pray right now for these two students; for the one who noticed and the one who notices.  Pray they will continue to grow Jesus, and we as leaders will know how to encourage them along their way.