A few weeks ago, a former Campus Life student called me. I hadn’t seen or heard from her in a long time. I’d like to share our conversation with you because it increased my faith in the idea that even after our students graduate, many of them are still connected to the “Christ” in Youth for Christ. Our conversation started with a text message one Sunday afternoon.
“If this is the wrong number, I’m sorry. If this is Romel, please call me back. This is Shay and I need your help. I have a lot of questions that I need answered.”
As I finished reading that text message, I sat there for a minute trying to figure out exactly who Shay was. The phone number had a Georgia area code. I couldn’t recall anyone named Shay from Georgia. However, for some reason, I decided to text back. “This is Romel, but your number is not saved in my phone. Help me know who you are.” She replied, “This is Shay from Campus Life. I moved away after I graduated. That’s why I have an out of town area code. I’m back now and I’m really struggling. Could you please call me?” I called her and immediately she began telling me about her life after high school.
She told me that she had a plan for how her life was supposed to turn out. That she was supposed to accomplish certain things by a certain time. The fact that her plan didn’t pan out the way she desired it to left her depressed and hopeless. She admitted that she knew she should be turning to God. In a sense, turning to those who helped her begin her relationship with Him was her effort to do so. You see, for years, Shay wrestled with what she believed. She wasn’t even sure if there was a God. She said that even if she came to the conclusion that God was real, no one could make her believe in the “Jesus fairytale”. As adamant as she was, after years of coming to Campus Life club meetings and having individual appointments with staff, her thoughts began to change. Shay learned about the forgiveness that was afforded her by Jesus Christ, the person whose existence she had been denying. She eventually not only expressed a belief in God, but she became a Christian. We watched her life change as she met staff at a local restaurant for several weeks to go through our new Christian follow-up program. After graduation, we were not sure if she would continue walking with Jesus. I admit I had my doubts. This conversation gave me the answer. Her accountability system was not as strong in Georgia. She didn’t plug into a church and as a result, she began to struggle. This time it was different though. Rather than turning in the wrong direction, she turned to God!
Friends, I am so excited to be sharing this story with you. You reached Shay at a time when she was headed down a path to destruction. You introduced her to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Years later, you are still actively involved in giving life to her story. Campus Life is available to Shay and other graduates like her because of the generous partners who have joined the mission of Youth for Christ.
During our conversation, I asked Shay when she was going to visit Tuscaloosa. She answered, “I moved back. I’m here now. Tuscaloosa is better for me.” Then, she asked me to pray for her and lead her through the scriptures I read when I am trying to overcome feeling depressed. As we prayed and I shared some of those scriptures with her, I could literally hear her smiling as she said, “Thank you! That’s exactly what I needed. I’m feeling better already!”
Middle schools and high schools are our mission fields. They are places where we meet teenagers and begin building relationships. Our desire is that as many students as possible will come to know Jesus before they graduate high school. Many of them do—but for those who don’t, our mission doesn’t stop there. We are actively involved in the lives of graduates like Shay. They visit us every time they come back to Tuscaloosa, and they call us often when they are away. We still have a chance to introduce many of them to a relationship with Christ. We are fully committed to the difficult work of raising up life-long followers of Jesus and we need your partnership to do so.