Seventh grade Courtney was one of the quietest young people I had ever worked with. I met her in my church’s youth group where I served as her youth leader. Each week, I would watch as Courtney attentively listened to the lesson but never shared.
Once, after youth group, I had the opportunity to talk deeply with Courtney. She shared about her life, family, and gave ideas for games we could play as a group. Each week I would encourage Courtney to share her ideas with the other leaders. She finally found the courage to explain her game ideas, and they were well received by the other leaders. I could see her beaming with pride when they implemented her game! This confidence boost led her to apply for the Youth Group Student Leadership Team. Around this time, I was also applying to work for Youth for Christ. Each week when we would share prayer requests, I would ask for prayer for this new potential position. I’m happy to say I got the job and so did she!
Over the years, I had the honor of watching Courtney grow as she watched me bring new students to the church that I had met throughYouth for Christ Campus Life. These students were not like the other teens in the youth group. Most of them did not have the best home lives or go to church regularly. Many of them did not even believe in Jesus. Each week Courtney was the first to greet them at the door, ensuring each student felt seen, welcomed, and loved. She had grown from a quiet, attentive introvert to a social butterfly. Her confidence blossomed as she matured into one of the most Christ-centered humans I have had the privilege of knowing.
Just before Courtney’s junior year, as she was preparing to take over the school’s Bible Club, she asked me how to get Campus Life in her school. Courtney had watched the impact Campus Life had on non-believers, and she wanted the same opportunity for her peers to meet Jesus. We discussed this possibility and how closed her school’s administration had been to this idea for over 20 years. But Courtney was determined. She began praying and thinking of ways to bring YFC to her school.
Then – Covid hit. Like the rest of the world, ministry nearly halted as plans were rebuilt from scratch. Our youth group typically took 1-2 out-of-state/county mission trips per Summer and now was unable to travel. This led to the Youth Group Leadership Team brainstorming ways our youth group could serve locally. Courtney’s desire for Campus Life at her school rang in my head. I had also recently learned that Covid had halted national YFC camp for that year. I decided to ask if our church and youth team could host a day camp for the Youth for Christ Students. In less than five minutes the room was buzzing with unanimous excitement! Ideas streamed in and Courtney, knowing our church and, therefore, this camp would be in the same community as her high school, eagerly took charge. She was hopeful camp would springboard a Campus Life group for her school.
Day Camp was wildly successful! Courtney not only served as a leader, but also shared her testimony from the stage and shared that camp was an answer to her prayers. It became the springboard to launch a Campus Life group for her school. Youth for Christ then hired a director for the area. When the group started that school year, Courtney faithfully showed up to meet the students and share Jesus with them.
The following Summer, Courtney once again served at YFC Day Camp. Again, it was hosted by the same partner church. She also joined the church on a mission trip to serve YFC Puerto Rico. Over that summer, Courtney fell in love with missions and ministry.
Courtney graduated in May of 2022 and went on to attend Blufton University. As with most students who go off to college, I rarely saw her, but while she was gone, a reference form came across my desk for her. She was applying to serve as a volunteer for a Campus Life chapter by her college! A few months later, another reference form cleared my desk. This time, she was applying to be a Summer Intern for YFC Puerto Rico! This Summer (2023), Courtney will be back serving with us at YFC Day Camp. This time as a YFC Puerto Rico intern, approved YFC volunteer, and a youth group alumni!
Each time she is home, Courtney asks to get coffee, and we catch up on life. She shares the victories she is experiencing and the passion she has for Jesus and ministry. It is her dream and mine that Courtney will become a staff person with Youth For Christ, where she will share her story of transformation from a quiet 7th grade girl to a strong, Gospel-centered warrior for Christ and inspire the next generation of youth!