Youth For Christ Holbrook Shares the Love of Jesus with an Incredibly Diverse Youth Population Amidst Difficult Circumstances
‘We Wouldn’t Be Here Today if it Weren’t for YFC’
PHOENIX —American teens have at least one thing in common: they cannot live without their cell phones. Imagine the surprise felt by the leaders at Youth For Christ Holbrook, Arizona (YFC, www.yfc.net), when they discovered that teens who protested surrendering their cell phones during special YFC events are now among the top advocates for the local YFC ministry.
Gretchen Madison, who serves as the campus life director for high school students and also directs the student-named Crosswalk Team club at YFC Holbrook, recalls, “I remember once during a service that a female teen excused herself three or four times to use the restroom – but was actually using her phone. When we reminded her that she couldn’t have her phone, she was so upset at the idea of being without it. But she begrudgingly handed it over and continued her participation in the service. These days, this same teen girl engages other teens to participate in YFC programs and can be found praising God with her friends. The YFC program changed her whole outlook.”
Handing over a cell phone is one thing for teens but handing over their lives to Jesus is something else entirely. The leaders of YFC Holbrook diligently work to reach students through Christ to share His love and hope. They recognize that teens in their area face extreme hardship especially during these troubling times.
Jared and Carrie Burgess are the co-affiliate directors for YFC Holbrook, and like Madison, work closely with the youth in their area. The student demographic is comprised mainly of Native Americans, with the rest of the population having Hispanic, Caucasian, Black and Asian backgrounds.
“These teens are dealing with alcoholism, a lot of drug abuse, broken families, sexual abuse and transgender issues,” explained Jared Burgess. “YFC Holbrook provides them with a place to go, someone to talk to about their problems.”
“The pandemic has affected how we connect with the students,” said Carrie Burgess. “But our message is always the same: Jesus. We’ve had teens participate in the program and then return as young adult volunteers at YFC Holbrook … and tell us that they wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the ministry. They are an inspiration!”
Having such a positive organization like YFC Holbrook in the area is a blessing for the teens – and the adults. Adult members of the Holbrook community often ask the Burgesses how they can help. “We always need prayers,” said Jared Burgess. “And if people can volunteer their time, or provide food/snack donations, that would be so helpful.”
Carrie Burgess added, “Our program runs completely on donations. We are developing a parent life ministry to assist teen mothers and fathers, led by Gretchen Madison – but we need funding to make it a success.”
YFC has chapters impacting thousands of communities across the nation that seek out and serve youth from all walks of life. Many teens are silently struggling through a variety of challenging issues—and now they see the living power of a loving God.
Youth For Christ staff and volunteers are encouraged by the YFC 3Story concept, which is based on the belief that kids will be reached for Christ when met at their point of need—and as workers connect their stories with Jesus’s story. The ministry efforts of Youth For Christ are changing lives, one young person at a time.
Youth For Christ encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while also sharing the stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of everyday life in order to lead people to Christ. For more information, visit yfc.net.
Youth For Christ has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and it is always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has more than 160 chapters that impact communities across America.