Many teenagers in Ahwatukee, Arizona, join Young Life club because they feel the message of Christ is able to come into their hearts more deeply through the fun and youth-tailored environment provided by the interdenominational Christian organization. Many of the club’s members go on to become Young Life club leaders and dedicate their lives in following the club’s legacy of serving.
"We as leaders just try to love them and show them God," Cody Alley, a senior leader of the Ahwatukee Foothills Young Life club, told to Ahwatukee Foothill News. Alley, 24, has been involved with the youth club since he was attending Mountain Pointe High School.
He plays guitar during every the club’s meeting every Monday evening when teenagers come to experience a youth community centered on the Word. A typical meeting inside the house donated to Young Life as a place for its weekly meetings would include music, skits, socializing and a message about God.
The organization’s mission is to create a safe and fun environment where teenagers can congregate and learn about Jesus Christ. Although the club is not only limited to Christians, many teenagers who join the club wanted to a place that could help them understand the Word.
Jeff Thibault said he heard about God in church but the messages didn’t hit him, according to Ahwatukee Foothill News. However, he was able to see a spirituality he could relate to as he heard messages about God’s love when he came to Young Life.
Now, Thibault is still involved in the club, serving as the Young Life East Valley metro director. His goal is to share what he experienced through Young Life with the teenagers, who come in numbers of ten or 30 to the weekly meetings, showing them how the club can also affect their lives.
The same trend of Young Life members continuing on as Young life members can be seen on a short-term scale in the lives of the teenagers who participate in the group.
"It's really fun and tells you a lot about Christianity," said Todd Babinec, 15, a freshman at Mountain Pointe High School, who said he will continue to be a member throughout high school. Babinec, who doesn’t miss a Monday meeting, has chosen to stay involved because he feels the messages hit home for him and because the ones who introduced him to the club, his mother and sisters, also are sticking with the club.
Alley mentioned that what Young Life offers is appealing to teenagers in Ahwatukee because “many teens come from homes where they're neglected,” but “they've found Young Life to be an open and accepting environment."
Founded in 1941, Young Life has flourished in 800 communities in the United States and Canada and 50 countries worldwide. On average, there are 100,000 children who participate in the weekly meetings and an estimated 1 million people who are involved in the club’s activities throughout the year.
The next big event planned for Young Life is the summer camp where 90,000 children was able immerse themselves in a positive-filled environment at 24 Young Life camping properties in the United States and Canada.
The Ahwatukee Foothills Young Life chapter will join the Tempe and Chandler clubs in Woodleaf, a Young Life camp in northern California. Alley and Thibault will also be leading the teenagers this summer.
What is it about Young Life that has Alley participating in the ministry for so long?
"It's just a passion of mine," said Alley.