In order to spread the gospel through interpersonal relationships founded on trust, the Young Life GOAL program began their leader training program for new leaders on Feb. 22.
“We are looking for people who have a deep love for God and a desire to make his name known, especially to kids locally who come from broken families and broken homes and desperately need to be shown his love,” said freshman Shelby Dorman, Young Life leader. “Very few people would discount the fact that they need to be shown that love, but people who would seriously enjoy doing that.”
Each week will emphasize a different aspect of Young Life ministry. From learning the mission and history of Young Life to learning various relational strategies to effectively share the gospel, Savannah Rothhaas, junior and Young Life Goal Program leader, said the noncommittal training is an “invaluable experience.”
“Training contributes to your personal development as a Christian and introspection,” Rothhaas said. “I ask the question, ‘Where am I with my faith right now?’ and then seeing how I can share this with others.”
Young Life seeks to share Christ with middle and high school students in the Jonesville and Hillsdale area. From cheering on middle schoolers at their basketball games to crashing their daily lunches, Young Life leaders foster intentional friendships with the kids in order to build trust. Stephen Whitney, freshman and new Young Life leader, said the gospel is meant to be shared in relationship.
“I’ll go up to a table and say, ‘Hey I’m Stephen can I sit with you guys?’ I ask them about their favorite movie, or game. That’s where it all starts,” Whitney said. “If we just went into the school and tried to share the gospel, people really wouldn’t listen to us. By sharing a relationship, you draw close to them. Then they want to trust you.”
Apart from building relationships with the kids, Whitney added that the contact work has “broadened his horizons.”
“Young Life gives you an exposure to the community,” Whitney said. “Going to school at Hillsdale, it’s a closed community and there’s not a lot of visibility for the outside. It helps me see that Hillsdale is not just a college, but it’s a community.”
Rothhaas said Young Life contact work has extended beyond the noon lunches at Davis Middle School. Growing alongside Tiffany since her seventh grade year, Rotthaas brings the now freshman to church.
“I bring her to College Baptist, she initiates it. She wants to go to church with me, and she asks me, ‘Are you going to be there? Can we go to church?’” Rothhaas said.
But Rothhaas said she’s humbled by the friendship.
“She told me that me and her sister and her mother are the only people that she talks to about personal things,” Rothhaas said. “It humbles me, because learning about these kids’ lives is never anything that I’ve experienced. These broken homes are completely out of my realm of knowledge. It’s humbling, and it’s really joyful, and they bring so much energy.”
For Dorman, Young Life has transformed her conception of the gospel. In a place like Hillsdale, where students frequently are “caught up in the complexities of theology,” Dorman said she has found new perspective of the good news.
I think there’s a very childlike love for Jesus that I see in all of the leaders,” Dorman said. “Being a part of Young Life has pressed the weightiness of the gospel and how the simple truths of it ought to sustain me through all of those hardships. I now focus my mind on the pure simplicity of Jesus and his love for me.”
Though Young Life may come across as intimidating to many, Dorman encourages anyone to drop in for a session.
“I’m still intimidated by it, because it’s a very daunting thing to be responsible for sharing the most important truth to people who would otherwise have a lot of misconceptions about it,” Dorman said. “But I think that if you talk to anybody who’s been a part of it, it’s one most joyful experiences.”
Training will be hosted in the Library Fishbowl from 5:45 to 8:00 p.m. beginning Friday.