Vulnerability Unlocked and Unleashed

by DanWolgemuth on July 29, 2016

It’s a bit of a tradition for Mary and me. We travel the 70 miles from our house to Quaker Ridge Camp in Woodland Park, Colorado. It’s a refreshing, inspiring and humbling glimpse into the impact of our YFC Camp strategy and the relational investment made by so many leaders across to country into the lives of broken, confused and hopeless young people.

This year we brought five kids with us. Grandkids. Malia, Graham, Davey, Desmond and Tess, ages 8 to 5, walked onto the property and into an experience that rocked all of us.

The camp was designed for high school students, and it included Youth For Christ chapters from Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Colorado. Shortly after I arrived, Jon Christensen, our Camp Director for the week, shared stories of the brokenness, pain, abuse, self-destruction, and sin that characterized the population of students that walked the mountainous terrain within eyeshot of Pike’s Peak.

The stories have become frighteningly common.

As I stood and listened, I watched an unexpected and beautiful picture take shape. In a matter of minutes, the five grandchildren that had accompanied us to camp were being “absorbed” into the activities that marked the afternoon. First it was soccer with a few teenagers, then it was as “ball girls and boys” as part of the conclusion of a volleyball tournament. These activities birthed conversation with perfect strangers that flourished into high-fives and shout-outs over the PA system. It was spontaneous combustion. It was overwhelming to watch.

Over and over during our return trip to Denver, our “kids” talked about how fun and kind and welcoming these YFC kids had been.

I watched as the vulnerability of children broke down barriers. Instantly. Consistently. Powerfully.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35b)

I watched teenagers, perfect strangers, unfamiliar faces engage in the noble calling that Jesus outlined.

Marginalized high school students reached beyond their margin. Disconnected and isolated young people stepped out, and stepped in.

Children unlocked something in bigger children that created an opening to the message and love of Jesus… for everyone involved… and everyone who watched.

Hours later, as the message of the Gospel of Jesus filled a Club Room, I watched 200 students and five grandchildren engage with the compelling reality that “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

Vulnerability engaged with vulnerability. Children unlocked the hearts of children. Unexpected love burst light into the darkness. And light provided a spotlight on Jesus. On hope. On forgiveness. On repentance. On rescue.

Unscripted. Unexpected. Undeniable.

When the love of Jesus is unleashed, lives change. Forever.

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The Test Doesn’t Qualify Us – It Exposes Us

by DanWolgemuth on July 22, 2016

For the next several weeks, I will be utilizing the chapters of a book called Give Life that was published by Youth For Christ USA several years ago. It chronicles a bit of our journey in this incredible and wonderful 72-year-old mission…

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  ~ Ezekiel 36:26

I saw Shelby’s face for the first time at the end of a lunch table. There were twenty other people in the room, but there was something noteworthy about Shelby.

Our YFC introduction to her had been in a juvenile detention center a couple of years before.  Unlike many of the young people that we work with, Shelby’s sin and rejection of God were out in the open.

Our team believed in the power of relationship.

A Godly and committed mentor came alongside Shelby and Jesus broke through.

Now Shelby’s eyes are electric.  Her smile is that of a soul set free.  She radiates the love of Jesus.

This shapes her identity.  It redeems the waste.

From an inmate to a daughter, she has been given life.

Sweet contagious love.  Sweet redemptive hope.  Jesus.  Shelby.

I was…

Jesus describes the final judgment in one of the last teaching moments of His earthly life.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was…

hungry and you gave me food
thirsty and you gave me drink
a stranger and you welcomed me
naked and you clothed me
sick and you visited me
in prison and you came to me.’

Jesus gives us a glimpse at life’s final exam. It’s a test of the fruit we produce in light of His grace.

The test doesn’t qualify us – it exposes us.

It shows whether or not we live in the light of faith in Jesus.

I was…

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Welcome to the Road of Life With No Exits

July 15, 2016

For the next several weeks, I will be utilizing the chapters of a book called Give Life that was published by Youth For Christ USA several years ago. It chronicles a bit of our journey in this incredible and wonderful 72-year-old mission… “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; […]

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Obedience Escorts Us to Venues God Ordains

July 8, 2016

For the next several weeks, I will be utilizing the chapters of a book called Give Life that was published by Youth For Christ USA several years ago. It chronicles a bit of our journey in this incredible and wonderful 72-year-old mission… It was an honor to speak at the Kansas Prayer Breakfast. The event […]

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God Didn’t Want Space on Our Refrigerator

July 1, 2016

For the next several weeks, I will be utilizing the chapters of a book that got published by Youth For Christ USA several years ago. It chronicles a bit of our journey in this incredible and wonderful journey… Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my […]

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Confessions of a College Knitter

June 24, 2016

I’m not sure precisely when I learned to knit, or why… but early in my college life, on one of my visits back to Wheaton, Illinois, I got enough training to be dangerous. It happened at a local knitting shop, which propelled me. I was armed with two very large plastic needles and a connection […]

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“Ask what I shall give you”

June 17, 2016

Who wouldn’t love an invitation like this… “Ask what I shall give you.” Most especially when these words come from the lips of God. Wisdom was Solomon’s choice, and God both commended and rewarded his selection. Fast forward to the twelve disciples, living and learning in the shadow of their rabbi. From Jesus. Only once […]

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Lessons from Detention

June 10, 2016

There are a lot of reasons why one of our staff members who works with incarcerated young people might get a call from the local Detention Center. The competence and confidence that years of faithful engagement brings engenders a level of trust that makes our Youth For Christ staff member a part of the team. […]

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A Verb or a Noun

June 6, 2016

This week I made a trip to Eugene, Oregon to visit several wonderful friends and partners of our ministry. While I was driving through this college town I drove past the Universal Unitarian Church of Eugene. It was a large and distinctive building and it caused me to think through the general premise and promise […]

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A Low T Church

May 31, 2016

I must admit some trepidation in the title and inference of this Fragment, yet I feel compelled and convicted to press the keys… to push into the subject. Low Testosterone. Our society and culture are consumed with messages and advertisements and remedies for this condition. Quite honestly, my point isn’t to minimize or undermine the […]

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